Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Feeling a little blue...

Actually, I'm not feeling blue at all... but my bedroom sure is! =) Yesterday I officially finished my first "project" at the Brian's new house - painting my bedroom! Yaaaaaaaayyyyy!!!

The house has 3 bedrooms upstairs... a master bedroom and 2 smaller spare bedrooms. When Brian first bought the house, we agreed that we would dedicate one of the spare bedrooms as a "sleeping room" for me. The bedroom originally belonged to a 4 year old little boy so it was a light powder-blue color with white clouds painted on the tops of the walls and a Winnie-the-Pooh border positioned in the middle of the wall all the way around the room. Now, I don't have anything against Winnie but he's not exactly my first choice in bedroom decor either... and Brian hates borders so we knew the border was going to be the first thing to go! We also thought the room would look nice with some fresh paint... but there are so many colors to choose from! During our brainstorming, Brian & I decided that the room would most suit my sleeping needs if it was painted a darker blue color... we planned to put up some room darkening shades and black-out curtains to help make the room as dark and cave-like as possible for maximum snoozing potential! LoL We looked at paint samples in stores and online and finally came up with a few that we liked... we were all set, or so we thought! That was until Saturday, when we went to the store to buy the paint! One of the colors we'd picked looked too dark and one of them looked too light... it was like Goldilocks meets painting! So we looked around some more and finally found a color that we both liked... it's called "Bluer Than Blue" by Valspar. So we bought a gallon of the paint and various other supplies we would need for the project.

One day last week, I had worked for a couple hours to take down the border... when I was finished, I wiped down the walls to get rid of the leftover adhesive residue. On Sunday morning, Brian was busy taking care of a friend in need so I decided to take that opportunity to go over to the new house and tape the walls so that the room would be ready for painting. After I finished all the taping, I was really curious about how the new paint was going to look on the walls... I decided to paint a small portion of one of the walls to see how the new color would look. Once I got started, it was hard to stop! I decided I wanted to surprise Brian by painting the WHOLE room without any help from him... I managed to get most of the room covered in the first coat before he got there to see it. When he got there, he was very surprised! They don't call me Tricky Nikki for nothing... =)

This morning, I went back over and put a second coat of paint on. Then I worked on the corners and the edges of the walls. (yes, I know... a little backwards! but I did learn a few valuable painting lessons that will be put to good use next time around!) A few hours later and the next thing I knew, I was standing back taking in the view of my masterpiece! LoL I can't wait to go over tomorrow and peel away the tape to see the finished product... of course I've got a few little boo-boo's to fix too... a couple slips of the wrist resulted in a blue splotch on the ceiling, the baseboard, and 3 little drops of paint on the carpet (YIKES!) but it's nothing that I can't fix! I've also got a little boo-boo on the palm of right hand, from all that rolling... but you know what they say, no pain no gain!

All in all, I think I did pretty well... now I'm getting more excited about painting the sunroom - an even BIGGER project! Check out my before, during & after pictures of the bedroom... what do you think?

before picture #1

before picture #2

before picture #3... bye-bye Winnie! =)

trying out the new paint!

not too sure what to think about the color just yet?

after picture #1... the corner and part of the closet door

after picture #2... the bedroom door and part of the wall

after picture #3... another corner and part of the window
(don't mind the glare on the wall!)

after picture #4... the closet doors

after picture #5... the bedroom and closet doors

all finished!!

oops #1 - the ceiling!

oops #2 - the baseboard

oops #3 - the carpet! =(

oops #3a - more carpet! =(

the red marks on my hand from all that rolling! LoL

Monday, April 19, 2010

I'm leaving on a jet plane...

Well, technically I LEFT on a jet plane... this time last week, I was halfway across the country! Brian & I went to Chicago, Illinois for 5 days to visit his family and to attend the wedding of one of his friends from college. We left BWI on Wednesday evening, around 8:30pm (EST) and arrived at Chicago Midway around 10:30 (EST). Brian's mom (Serita) and the oldest of his younger sisters (Kelly) picked us up from the airport. After dropping Kelly off at home but before heading to Brian's parents' house for the night, we had a very important stop to make... the drive-thru at White Castle! I'd been hearing alot about these little burgers that White Castle is famous for and since we don't have them in Maryland, I was excited to try them! Brian ordered a "Crave Case" which is a 30-pack box of mini-cheeseburgers that are steam grilled on a bed of onions. The burgers were good... I definitely didn't think they were worth the 170 calories and 9 grams of fat for EACH burger (that's 4 WW points for EACH burger!) but atleast now I can say I tried them! We hung out with Brian's mom, another of his sisters (Erin) and the dogs (Rocky & Maggie) for a little while before we headed to bed.

Thursday: Brian's mom drove us back to Chicago Midway to meet Brian's best friend Padma and her boyfriend Ravi who were flying in from Los Angeles, California to attend the wedding as well. Padma had pre-arranged for a Hertz rental car so after we picked that up, the 4 of us headed downtown to experience a little bit of Chicago! We ate at an authentic mexican restaurant called "Taco Erendira" - yummy!! We drove past the college that Brian & Padma went to, so Ravi & I could see the campus. Then we headed to Chicago's Historic Navy Pier... Navy Pier is the place where all of Chicagoland and tourists from around the world have come together since 1995 to enjoy the beauty and the thrills of a day on Lake Michigan. From rides to restaurants, exhibitions to entertainment, shopping to dining cruises and tour boats, Navy Pier has it all! Unfortunately, the weather was pretty yucky so we only went outside for a quick photo op... I can't wait to go back another time when, hopefully, the weather is a little more cooperative! Later that afternoon, Brian & I went to his old high school to watch his little sister Natalie's water polo game... sadly, the Bulldogs lost! =( After the game, we (me, Brian, Padma, Ravi, and Brian's sisters Kelly & Natalie) went to a local pizza joint called Palermos's for dinner. I was disappointed that we didn't order any of the deep dish (a.k.a. "stuffed pizza") that Chicago is famous for, but Brian assured me that we would try it before our visit was over! That night, we had a gathering at Brian's parents' house... joining Brian, his parents, his sisters & I, were: Padma & Ravi, Jith & Christine, Caranto & Jessica, Sara Zamatala, and Chris (the groom!)... I think that's all! We hung out until the wee hours of the morning before we finally crashed!

Friday: For lunch, Brian & I went to a restaurant called "Al's #1 Italian Beef" that I had seen featured on Food Wars and Man vs. Food. Italian Beef is to Chicago what cheesesteaks are to Philadelphia, so I was very excited to give it a try! Brian & I each ordered a "Big Al" and we shared an order of french fries. In the words of Rachael Ray... Yum-O!!! After lunch, we parked Padma's rental car in the commuter lot at Chicago Midway and Brian drove us back downtown in his mom's car for day #2 of sightseeing. We had to drive separately because Brian was going to the rehearsal dinner for his friend's wedding later that afternoon but Padma, Ravi & I were not going so we'd need a way to get back after he left. We walked along Michigan Ave on The Magnificent Mile and saw lots of neat stores... we went to the Hershey's Chocolate Store and to the Ghiradelli Chocolate Company, where Brian & I and Padma & Ravi each shared a delicious ice cream sundae. Afterwards, Brian had to leave for the wedding rehearsal so Padma, Ravi & I took the subway back to the commuter lot to pick up the rental car. Padma & Ravi had dinner plans with some old friends of Padma's and I wanted to hang out with Brian's mom and his sisters, so Padma & Ravi dropped me off at Brian's sister Kelly's house and I got to hang out with her, her fiance (Stan), their dog (Charlie), and their cats (Peppi, Lucy & Rambo) for a little while. Kelly drove me over to her parents house and I had a most delicious dinner with Brian's whole family... minus Brian, of course. Several hours later, Brian's friends Kathy & Sagris came to pick me up and drive me downtown where we would be meeting up with Brian, Padma, Ravi, and some of Padma's friends at The Signature Lounge, which is a cocktail bar on the 96th floor of the John Hancock building (next to the Sears tower) and has floor-to-ceiling windows that exhibit the stunning Chicago skyline and 360° degree views of the entire city. It was SO neat!

Saturday: Padma & Ravi were meeting some friends for breakfast, so Brian & I had breakfast at home with his parents. Then it was time to get ready for the wedding! The wedding was in a town called Highland Park, which is about an hour away from Brian's parents' house. Since Brian was in the wedding party, he needed to be at the church about an hour before the wedding was scheduled to start at 3pm, so we needed to leave around 1pm. After some quick pictures in front of his parents house, we were on our way! The wedding was not too short and not too long... it was just right! The only bad thing was the 3 hour period between the wedding and the reception! Since Brian was busy taking wedding pictures, I hung out with Padma & Ravi and Jith & Christine. We went to a microbrewery called RAM to have some drinks and appetizers while we killed some time. The wedding reception was at a place called the Chevy Chase Country Club. There was a cocktail hour starting at 6:30 and the reception followed. I had a pretty good time but I really missed Brian while he was busy doing wedding stuff. I was glad when the formal part of the reception was over and the dancing began... Brian & I were some dancing fools! One pretty exciting thing that happened during the reception was that I caught the bride's bouquet!!! The reception lasted until almost 1am and by the time we got back to Brian's parents' house, I was pooped!

Sunday: Padma & Ravi left early that morning to fly back to Los Angeles. Brian & I slept in and then had breakfast with his parents' and his sister Natalie. Brian's dad (Dennis) made a delicious breakfast of bacon, sausage, eggs, toast and english muffins... yum!!! Later that morning, Brian & I took all three of his sisters (Kelly, Erin & Natalie) to lunch at Giordano's for some of that Chicago style pizza I'd been wanting to try. Mmm... it was SO good! After lunch, we headed back to Brian's parents' house to see some more friends and family. Brian's Aunt Mary came over and brought his cousin Brenna, who was visiting from Montana. Brian's dad made some steaks on the grill and we hung out in the garage for awhile... Brian's friends Rick & Angela, Sammy & Sagris also came over to visit.

Monday: After Brian & I organized our luggage and took showers, his mom took us out to look for some souveniers for my family. We went to the Chicago Ridge Mall and picked up some t-shirts and keychains for my mom, grandma, sister, nieces & nephew. We hung out for awhile before it was time to go to the airport. Brian's sister Erin drove us to the airport because his mom had to go to work. It was sad to say goodbye to everyone but I'm glad we'll be seeing them soon... we're going back again in a few months when Kelly & Stan get married!

What a busy week!! I loved my first visit to Chicago! I really enjoyed seeing where Brian grew up and meeting the people who mean so much to him. I got to hear lots of stories about Brian when he was a little boy and thanks to his mom, I got to see lots of adorable baby pictures! Brian's friends and family are wonderful and seeing how much they love him made me realize just how lucky I really am to have him around all the time, instead of the once-in-awhile that they get to see him. I can't wait to go back again this summer! Here are some pictures I snapped during my trip!

Welcome to Chicago!

White Castle... what you crave!

Navy Pier

Brian & I at the end of Navy Pier

Brian's little sister Natalie

me, Brian's dad & Brian =)

Kelly, Sara, Padma, me & Jith

Al's #1 Italian Beef... mmm!!!

Brian and his ginormous chocolate bar!

Ghiradelli Chocolate Company!!

The Signature Lounge... 96th floor

Brian & I at Chris & Karen's wedding

Padma + Ravi and Nikki + Brian = couples pic =)

Friday, April 2, 2010

It is finished...

Well, it's official... Brian is a homeowner!! We had the final walk-through at 9 am on Tuesday 3/30 and went to settlement 10 am... less than an hour later, Brian had the keys to his first house! WOO HOO!!! The sellers had asked to be allowed to stay a few extra days because of their moving situation, and it was written into the contract for them to be able to do that... it wasn't really a big deal because Brian's lease isn't up at his apartment until June anyway, but it was a little disappointing that we couldn't leave settlement and go straight over to the house to see it! But as of 5pm yesterday the sellers are gone and the house is EMPTY! I'm going over to the house as soon as I get out of work in the morning and I can't wait! Now we've got alot of painting ahead of us... and we've still got to buy some furniture, but otherwise things are moving along nicely!

After settlement, Brian & I decided to take a mini-road trip to Wegmans' in Hunt Valley, Maryland. Wegmans' is a GINORMOUS grocery store with tons and tons of neat stuff! I could seriously walk around that store for hours and probably never get bored! I might run out of money pretty quickly though... LoL After we did some shopping, Brian and I took our bags out to the car and went back inside to have lunch at the cafe. It was yummy! They're in the process of building a Wegmans' here in Harford County but it won't be open until Spring of 2011... I'm so excited! It feels like forever away but I'm sure it'll fly by...

I haven't really mentioned it before but for the next several months, my Tuesday evenings are going to be dedicated to attending classes for the 16th Annual Harford County Sheriff's Office Citizens' Police Academy - a 15 week program designed to provide residents with a better understanding of the Sheriff’s Office and its operations and to foster a partnership between the Sheriff’s Office and the communities it serves. I've wanted to participate in the Citizens' Police Academy for as long as I've been working at my job, but shift work made it difficult to commit to something with a rigid schedule. This year my schedule was alot more flexible and now here I am...

Weekly classroom instruction will include overviews of nearly every aspect of Sheriff’s Office operations, from patrol services and criminal investigation to the agency’s K-9 Unit, Dive Team, and Crisis Negotiation Team. Deputies will provide presentations on topics such as personal safety, drug identification, and gang activity. Students will supplement their classroom training with field trips to the Harford County Detention Center, the Harford County Emergency Operations Center, the Sheriff’s Office Evidence Collection Unit, and both the Northern and Southern Precincts.

As part of the Academy, students will have the opportunity to use the agency’s Firearms Training System. This state-of-the-art video training system lets students experience, in as realistic a setting as possible, the milliseconds in which police officers are sometimes forced to make life and death decisions.

This weeks class was at the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) and we discussed class 1 crimes (rapes, serious assaults, murders, suicides, etc.) - very interesting stuff!! We got to see some gory pictures, which everyone loves... and we also got to tour the Evidence Collection Unit (ECU) and learn how evidence is collected and preserved. I was chosen as an "assistant" to the detective who was showing us how they fingerprint items. I got to use a magnetic wand that is similar to an Etch-a-Sketch and I dusted a piece of paper for fingerprints. It was very cool! All this has got me thinking about taking some criminal justice classes, just to see what I think of them... I've thought about that before, but I've never actually taken steps to DO it. Maybe this Fall...

I can't believe how fast time is FLYING by... we're 1/4 of the way through 2010 already! Is it really April now?! April is my birthday month... in a few weeks I'll be turning the big 29... my last year in my 20's! Next year is the big 30! *GASP* I've been trying to be healthier for a few weeks now. This is my 3rd week on plan with Weight Watchers and this lazy girl has even gone to the gym a few times! Get outta town!! I know that undoing the damage I've done to my body over the past few years isn't going to happen overnight... it's going to take some time, but I've adopted the "No pain, no gain!" philosophy and I'm trying my best to take things one day at a time... so far, so good!

That's all for now... until next time! =)

~ me