Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Day 4, Put a Cork in it!

This morning we had to check out of our beautiful B&B in Kilkenny. I cried a little tear. Seriously. Here's a picture from the grounds. Our room was the second story room in the first tower.

Here's the lovely bathroom

We headed out towards Ardmore to visit where Grandpa Smythe was born. We had lunch in a little town along the way, and met up with Francis, Father Dick's younger sister. She showed us around the town and we did a little shopping (unfortunately, no buying) and had lunch. Francis is a retired teacher, and she had a lot of good info about the history of Ireland and the area where we were visiting. She also helped us navigate our way over to Ardo.

First we visited a little church yard, which featured another round tower. Now we've seen two!

This statue, inside the ruins of the church, is written on with the old Celtic language, which predated Christian times.

From there it was off to Grandpa Smythe's house. It's been turned into a rental cottage, and unfortunately was being rented this week, so we weren't able to get inside. Instead, we peered in the window and took pictures in the backyard. It certainly has a beautiful view, but is a bit off of the beaten path, in terms of vacationing.

Here is Eileen, letting herself into the yard.

I was telling everyone, it's interesting to me because my great-great-grandparents lived in cities which I have often visited. Even though Tim and I's great-great-grandparents and great-grandparents were roughly the same age, this is such a world away from La Crosse or Rochester. It's such a different experience, and such an interesting history to learn.

We're staying tonight in Cork, which is on our way to Dingle (hahahaha... DINGLE) tomorrow. Tim and I had a date night tonight, and walked around town a little, and then had Indian food for dinner. Our room here is also super cute, and also had a giant bathtub. It's a nice way to relax at night. Most of the shopping nearby was sort of chain store, so I didn't get any souveniers, but we did see a very pretty church along our walk.

We couldn't go inside, but apparently St. Fin de Barre is on a site that has been occupied for a church for over 1,000 years.

And is has a gargoyle shaped like a howler monkey.

We also saw Don's side business. It was right next to the Forde pub, and the Forde funeral home.

Oh, and I did stop in at Penney's and try on this sequin vest and jacket.

Tomorrow, we kiss the Blarney stone. At least, those of us who aren't afraid of germies!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Day 3, AKA, the countryside is beautiful!

I am writing this from our out of this world beautiful hotel room in Kilkenny. We are staying at a B&B in what was some old manor house. Tim and I's room is in one of the turrets, and has big windows that overlook the gardens, and a gigantic bathtub - even bigger than my mom's. I had a bubble bath before dinner and am quite the happy camper.

We had kind of a rough morning this morning - I woke up at 4am last night with the pukes, and from the violence of it, and the fact that I wasn't very tipsy when we went to bed at 12, and I certainly wasn't drunk at 4, I am leaning more towards food poisoning. But basically, I was slow on my feet and it took us awhile to get out of Dublin. We also ended up taking sort of the long way to Glendalough, because Harriet the British Garmon took us through some pretty narrow countryside roads. Up and down the only mountain nearby! The countryside was really gorgeous. I joked that it looked like something out of Lord of the Rings.

Glendalough is located near two lakes, and was a medieval monastery. It was occupied for over a century, and some of the buildings remain. The cathedral on site is what I consider tiny, but for many years was the largest cathedral in all of Ireland. It was a really beautiful place - all sorts of ancient headstones and old buildings. We also walked down to the two lakes and did a little nature hike.

We left there around 3, and got to Kilkenny around 5. Unfortunately, it didn't give us a lot of time to see the city, but the castle is visible from our bedrooms. Jake went for a run (sicko) and he said the grounds are really pretty. We had a really nice dinner tonight, and will be on the road tomorrow to see where Grandpa Smith was born all those many years ago. From here on out, it's a lot of traveling and staying in different little towns. The driving seems to be going okay - Don is accident free, but today I tried to sleep when possible, since I hardly slept at night, and so that I wouldn't have to see the moment when my life was in danger. Tim is responsible for running the Garmon, and Eileen double checks the map constantly. It's all directions, all the time!

The entry gates

Most of the headstones were from the 1800s, and there were a surprising number of people who lived into their 80s and 90s!

The window you see is actually the door to the tower.

Tim and I down by the second lake.

The beautiful countryside

Monday, September 28, 2009

Dublin, Day 2.

Today we got a lot more accomplished, despite sleeping in quite a bit.

We started off by going to Trinity College and seeing the book of Kells. Their Long Room is filled with old manuscripts, and smelled like love to me. Oh, old decaying paper. Let's hang out! From there, we walked to Dublin Castle and took their tour. It's not as old or historic as Edinburgh, but we did get to see some of the old walls of the city. Afterwards, we started walking towards the Guinness Factory, but were picked up by a man with a horse drawn carriage, who clearly knew a tourist mark when he saw one.

The factory was really well put together, and full of delicious booze drinks. By the time we got to the rooftop pub the skies had cleared, so we had gorgeous views of all of Dublin. Afterwards it was back to the Temple Bar area for dinner and our musical pub crawl. They took us through three pubs, and at the last one I got up and sang "I'll Tell Me Ma" because they were looking for people to sing, and no one else had volunteered. I disgraced Tommy Makem's memory with my terrible pitch, but dammit, I participated! We went to one more pub afterwards to talk to the natives, and then staggered home. Tomorrow we are off to Killkenny!

Breakfast this morning. Jake went back and changed so they wouldn't look quite as dumb.

Trinity College

Dublin castle. That courtyard was once the site of a pool of water, from which Dublin got its name.

Main dining room at Dublin castle. The mirrors were so the viceroy could spy on his guests.

Tim fits in so well in Europe.

Our pony ride.


It's time for free booze!

From the Gravity Bar

Me, singing like a dope on our pub crawl.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Top of the Morning To Ya!

We are safe and sound at our hotel in Dublin, after a long day of traveling. We landed around 9am, and then picked up the rental car, after a little negotiation. They tried to put us into something a bit bigger than the Fit, which would have meant that us "kids" were sitting three across the back. After all of the fun driving to Door County, I am sure that I never want to have to sit three across the back for more than twenty minutes ever again. Thankfully, they found us a mini-van type car that fit all of our luggage, and allows everyone a little breathing room.

We got to our hotel but couldn't check in. Did our best to clean up in the hotel bathroom, and then we went out for some breakfast. Had a good meal, and wandered around, and then stopped into a pub. Tim became besties with an 82 year old American guy who has lived in Ireland since 1955. They talked about his favorite subject - World War II! We got our bearings, but otherwise, were pretty lost on the day. Those of us back in coach hadn't really slept during our flights, so we were kind of loopy, and incredibly happy when we could take a nap. We went to a pub for dinner and I had a delicious Guinness pie, and now we're back and ready to go to bed. So ready to go to bed. But here are a couple of quick pictures from the day.

Our suitcase when we pulled it out from under the bed. Oh, Lulu. When we picked the bag up in Dublin, we noticed that it's ripping. It might be a full time cat toy from here on out. The canvas has seen better days.

Rainbow in the parking lot, waiting for the car.

Our first meal in Ireland. We are fresh as skunk flowers.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Hey, Guess What!

OUR CONTINGENCIES ARE REMOVED. As of this afternoon, all we have to do is finish securing our loan, and we are getting a house! It's funny - Rita sent over the paperwork to sign today, and I emailed her back "this is the final thing, right? Now, if we were to find out something bad, like that the roof is filled with rats, we'd lose our deposit." Not that I want to back out on the deal - all I want to do in life is buy this house and move in! - but it's good to know that the money that was taken out of our checking account on Tuesday is gone for good (and for a good cause!) I feel so lucky that it's gone as smoothly as it has. There's still a little back and forth about whether we close on the 20th or the 30th, but either way we'll work it out, and be able to wake up on Thanksgiving morning and be thankful for our first home.

We also got a great quote on having the joint painted. Now we just need to figure out the carpet. And figure out exactly where our meager furniture is going to go. Jan said we can have the Cat Couch back, which I am thrilled about. What's better than a 100 year old sofa bed with wooden arms carved into cat shapes? I was trying to explain the couch to Tim, and said "the arms are like Princess Lola in the backyard." He was like, "Princess Lola?" Yes Tim, Princess Lola, the statue of a cat that hangs out in my parents' backyard. Okay... maybe my family is a little weird. I come from a long line of cat ladies.

IN OTHER NEWS WE ARE LEAVING FOR IRELAND IN LESS THAN 12 HOURS. And yes, we finally packed. We usually travel with one big duffel bag that Tim got sometime during his youth. In the off season, we slide it under the bed, where kitties live (during their off season.) When I pulled the bag out tonight, it was just coated in orange cat fur. I scraped off the top layer, but if Don goes near our suitcase, he will probably have a full out allergy attack. But it makes our bag more recognizable - screw just tying a ribbon around the handle!

So, we'll have internet access in Ireland and I'm bringing my laptop. Please check back for photos, and submit your souvenir requests.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Almost on Vacation!

Oh what a week! I had work events both Monday and Tuesday - by Tuesday night my powers of friendliness were fried. But everything came together, and I got a key proposal out this morning, so my professional life is grand. Plus I did get to spend Monday out at beautiful Trump National Golf Course, and Sunday night I stayed for cheap at Terranea Resort and had a wonderful dinner with my coworkers.

On the homefront, we are checking more checks off the checklist. The sellers got the termite inspection and scheduled the tenting (my house is going to be the CIRCUS!) We signed off on all of the disclosures; we are getting a quote from a painter to get the interiors painted; we signed off on another handful of random forms; we got quotes on homeowners insurance and earthquake coverage; the house was appraised and the bank is working on giving us a bunch of money. It's all going well, and it seems like we have a great team working with us (not to mention a ton of support from our parents, who have each bought a home or two in their time.) It all still boggles my mind a little - I definitely feel like I am working two jobs.

Tim came up on Tuesday night, which was nice. We got to sign all of our paperwork together (how romantic!) and then went out to dinner and talked about how we'd like to decorate our first home. It's very exciting stuff.

Also exciting and amazing - after 15 months of planning (on Eileen's part) WE LEAVE FOR IRELAND ON SATURDAY MORNING! Am I packed? Not even close (but in truth, I like to do all of the packing all at once - it makes me feel less likely to forget something.) Am I jazzed? ABSOLUTELY! I cannot wait. I hope we have a great vacation, and then come home and just move into our house!

That's pretty much all of the news for now. I'm taking the laptop to Ireland, because we should have wireless access. Expect lots of pictures, and lots of stories about how Jake and Tim got so drunk on Guinness that the rest of us had to carry them home.

I like cats because you can stack them. Also, please notice Lulu's delightful fat roll.

Now she is sulking, and Thor is giving me the "don't look at me!" look.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Football Weekend.

Oh, this is how I like to spend my weekends - staying in my pajamas until late on Sunday, and flipping between football games. I am rooting heavily for the Packers (of course) and my second choice team for the weekend is the Lions (one can hope, right?)

Friday night I got to leave work early, as my department went to a special showing of "The September Issue." And by "special showing," I mean we snuck out and went to see the movie since we'll have to be working tonight, and early Monday morning on an event. It was such a fun treat, and the movie was great. Man, I love Vogue magazine, and cutting out pictures for my look book. Friday night then I hung out with my boyfiend and watched Project Runway.

Yesterday, we were lucky enough to get to accompany Fluff and Jasmin to the Bruins game. It was actually sort of funny - on Tuesday he texted me to see if I wanted to go, and as I was texting back that I didn't know, we might have to go down to the OC and househunt, I got the call from Rita saying that our offer was accepted. I'm glad we were able to take him up on his offer - glad on many levels!

I made cupcakes for our tailgate with Pari and James, and I have to say, they were the best cupcakes I've ever made. Very moist and delicious carrot cake (dad would have been proud) with ginger cream cheese frosting. Check out these babies:

Of course, about five minutes after we got into the car, the tray tipped off my legs and ALL OF THE CUPCAKES ENDED UP ON FLUFFY'S FLOORMAT. Thank goodness, the floormat was clean, so the cupcakes were salvagable. The frosting wasn't as pretty though. Still, people devoured them, and other tailgaters coveted them, and even better - I was able to get the frosting out of the floormat this morning with just a wet rag. Pari made kabobs and salads, and I drank a few Miller Chillers, and it was a lovely evening.

We had seats in the GA area of the end zone, so it didn't make for the best game viewing, but it was a fun game. More importantly, WE WON AND USC LOST. I know the season is long, and Kevin Craft will find a way to throw a gagillion interceptions, but as we go into next week, UCLA has a better record than USC, and it's all I can do not to send obnoxious emails to the obnoxious USC fans in my office.

Always remember, a Bruin is forever, and a Trojan is only good once.

This morning I had another culinary breakthrough - I made pancakes with some lemon zest in the batter, and then instead of syrup, we poured sugary lemon juice on top. It was absolutely delish! Plus my pancakes turned out less screwed up than usual. Someday maybe I will get a flat pan instead of trying to use a deep sauce pan while flipping.

And now, it's time to be as lazy as possible before I have to head in to work.

Also, just as a quick housekeeping note - love the comments, but if you don't leave your name, I don't know who "anonymous" is. Take credit for your thoughts! Or I will steal them and copyright them.

Friday, September 18, 2009

More Pictures of the House!

(which is all anyone cares about, anyways!)

Another shot of the kitchen, and another great slider. I love all of the light in the house. Bonus - all of the doors and windows were redone recently, so they're all fancy glass and nice frames. Not stuff that I notice while walking through a house (unlike Tim) but something for which I will doubtless be thankful in a year or two.

But let's not get out of order, shall we?
Hello, this is our front door. Feel free to just walk in and visit. I'm from the Midwest, I welcome that (unless you are going to steal anything... then please knock first so I can give you the stink eye.)

Here is the foyer. So, you look straight into the family room (or is it living room? I never understand the difference, except that one room you hang out in a lot, and the other room has furniture that no one ever sits on.) The living room (or is it family room?) is to your left, the bedrooms are to the right.

This is the way to the bedrooms and the guest bath.

The first door on your right is the smaller bedroom, currently configured as an office. When they move the desk out, we will put our breakfast nook in this room. Someday down the line, when we have two childrenses, we will have to convert that shelving back into a closet. Or hope we have a short kid, whose clothes can hang in the file cabinets.

The second bedroom. We will configure this to be Wolfie's room, and will also move our queen mattress in when we get a king. So this will be guest room/nursery/cat palace (actually though, can I just say how excited I am to have a second room for people to sleep in? When people sleep over here, they have to take the couch, and put up with the cats stepping on them and staring at them all night. Or, the couple of times that I have had girlfriends in town, whoever shares the bed with me - because of course we boot Tim and his boyness out - has to deal with Lulu sleeping on my pillow.)

Guest bath. Nothing fancy, but nothing to sneer at either.

Master bath. Love the red accents.

Tim didn't take any pictures of the master bedroom.

Here is another shot of whatever you call this room. I am hoping they will sell us those chairs at a nominal cost. Seriously though, SoCal folks, we own a couch and a chair. If you know anyone getting rid of a nice, neutral living room set, let me know. We are ready to wheel and deal. Or buy off craigslist - it's how we got the chair in the first place!

Another shot of the dining area. The door there leads into the kitchen.

LOOK AT HOW CUTE THE LITTLE DOORS ARE? That way, I can close them and the help can keep themselves busy in the kitchen. Or, as I have suggested, I can close the doors while cooking and no one can hear me swear as I repeatedly screw things up. There are also little doors that close the family room off from the foyer.

For the Thiel men - HERE IS THE GARAGE!!! I am going to put so many tools in here. Like my hammer. And my... scissors?

This is the laundry area in the garage, which is very nice! I can't wait to wash my clothes in my own home! I am going to wash one sock at a time, for the novelty factor.

More for the Thiel men - here's the whatever this thing is called. Oh, people who used to live in our house, you are funny.

Those are all of the pictures I have - feel free to show yourself out!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Inspector Gadget!

Go, go Gadget House!

We had our inspection today, and we passed with flying colors! The house has no major problems, other than that it needs to be tented for termites, but the sellers were aware of that issue and in the counter offer, agreed to pay for the tenting, so that's already out of the way. All of the rest of the fixes are things that we can do over time. It's nice because it leaves us money for the cosmetic stuff - we will get the interior painted and recarpet before we move in.

Tim and Rita were there to supervise, as was the seller's agent. Dad and Don also stopped by to dispense their fatherly wisdom. I missed out!

Tim took a lot of pictures today, but since we are not living together at the present, I won't be able to upload them until this weekend (sob!) But here are the photos from the listing site.

Excellent curb appeal! The house is on a corner lot, and the street curves off to the right.

Front yard. The windows are for the two front bedrooms. For the present time, we will set one up as an office, with our breakfast nook as the computer table, and the other room will be for the future Wolfie Von Focker. In the meanwhile, once we get a king sized bed, we'll move our queen into the room as a guest room.

When you walk into the house, the family room is to your left. It has paquet floors and that cute little picture window. There are little folding doors with frosted glass that you can close to shut it off from the hallway.

This is the family room, which you walk straight into from the front door. The slider leads to the backdoor, and that window treatment has already been removed. To the right is the hallway to the bedrooms and bathrooms.

This is the kitchen. The cabinets are new and very nice (though not oak or anything fancy) and the floor is white tile.

Dining area! Finally, we'll be able to move the table out of mom and dad's garage and take all of the chairs out of my bedroom!

The backyard is great, except for all of the ivy (which as mom is quick to remind me, is probably harboring a rat colony. Ripping it out and replanting will be her fun project!) The master bedroom also has a sliding glass door out to the yard.

So, we're continuing to move forward! The sellers are going to submit their disclosures, which we will sign, and then they'll have the termite guy tent the place. Tim and I are off to Ireland next Saturday, and we can just sit back and relax while the paper pushers push paper. When we get back, we have about two weeks until we close (October 20th), and then we'll probably move our stuff in the weekend after. Depending on the painting/recarpeting schedule, we may just move everything into the garage and camp out at our parents, but we hope to be in and settled and living together by November 1 (suck it, renting!)

I cannot tell you how much lighter I feel today, knowing that this could *really* be our house. My biggest fear in undertaking this new adventure in life (other than having to live behind the Orange Curtain) was that it would take Tim and I six months to find a home, and in the meanwhile, we'd be living apart, and spending every weekend house hunting. Considering I don't enjoy househunting, I hate driving back and forth to the OC, and I really hate living apart from my boyfiend, it was sort of a nightmare proposition. But there seems to be an end in sight, and the end is a beautiful first home for the two of us, and our cat children. And that is truly a blessing.

In the meanwhile, Tim is loving his new job, and I am very excited about the idea that they have a frogurt dispenser in the cafeteria! We got a chance to have a date last night and did super exciting things like watch Top Chef and go to the drugstore! It's hard to plan a date that starts at 8pm. But the kitties were certainly happy to see their daddy - Thor was so thrilled that he threw up a hairball (which I think made Tim clean up, because I don't want him to forget how awesome our cats are.) More pictures as we get them! (of the house, not of cat vom.)