A Quick Upcycle

As we begin Project Lighten Up the Living Room, I was on the hunt for a clear or white lamp base to change up this green one we had on the sofa table. 

  
I love the style of this lamp but it just doesn’t fit the new decor.  As we hunted for new lamps, hubs and I couldn’t agree on anything.  Rule number one in our projects is that no piece is bought or redone unless we BOTH agree on it, so no lamp…

But then while we walked around The craft store the other night, I fell in love with this:

  
Hubs proceeds to say, “Hey, why don’t I just turn this into a light?”  I followed that with a, “Yeah right!”   I mean I know my hubby is good…but that good???

We bought the lantern, took a pit stop by the hardware store, hubs spent a few minutes in the garage…

  
Well well well….I was wrong to ever second guess the mad scientist!

   

    
 
I mean, what!?  You can’t even see the wires!!  Yeah, I am one lucky girl to be married to such a talented guy!  One project down and we are well on our way to lightening up the living room!!

Review of Chattanooga Tennessee

A dear friend recently said to me that “People don’t seem to really enjoy and appreciate the season of life that they are currently in.  Always wishing for their babies to grow up, or their teens to be babies.  Wasn’t it nice when we could travel on the spur of the moment because we didn’t have kids, or man I wish I had kids!”  I really took what she said that day to heart.  As much as I want to have babies, and have a family right now, I need to remember that I do have a husband that loves me very much.  I need to work on appreciating and enjoying what I have…because you know what…I have a really special life!

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So in order to try and stop “grown-up life” and truly enjoy this beautiful life we have, Hubs and I have made a commitment to try and travel to a small local town once a quarter.  Just to explore this beautiful part of the country we live in.  Each summer we want to take a bigger trip, like this summer we are heading to Jamaica, but why not enjoy what’s close by too….because there is some really beautiful stuff to see and explore right in our own backyard!

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A while ago, I shared my thoughts on a close-by city that I really fell in love with…Ashville, NC.  I could live there people!!!  So today I thought I would give you our run-down on Chattanooga, TN.  Take it for what it’s worth, just one person’s opinion, but maybe it will help you make some decisions if you decide to try Chattanooga out for yourself!

1. Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel StarStar

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Of course, while we were visiting Chattanooga we had to stay in the Historic Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel.  The location of the hotel was perfect, and within walking distance of everything in downtown.  The lobby had been renovated and had beautiful architecture.  But unfortunately, I am sad to say that this wasn’t my favorite part of the trip.  The hotel had a cool vibe because it was located in the old train station, and you could stay in the train cars that had been turned into guest rooms…but, everything was VERY outdated – 80’s style.  I will say that hotel was undergoing a 8 million dollar renovation, so maybe you don’t want to count it out just yet, but overall it (as it stands today) it definitely makes the top 5 list of yuckiest hotels I have ever stayed in.   

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2.  Rock CityStarStarStarStar

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One of the many places we explored while in Chattanooga was Rock City.  I really enjoyed walking the trails and seeing the beauty of the mountains.  The overall feel of Rock City is slightly too touristy for me, and I wouldn’t go back on my own (one of those “been there done that” kind of things), but I would totally go back with my kids.  It really was fun for the day, and because we went in the winter there weren’t too many people on the trails.  The best part of Rock City is the top…where you can see 7 states at the same time!  Pretty cool!

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3.  Raccoon Mountain CavernsStarStarStarStarStar

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My absolute FAVORITE thing we did on our trip was explore the Raccoon Mountain Caverns!  We almost didn’t go to the Caverns because it wasn’t on our list of things to do, but we had time so we headed over to check it out…and wow!  It was totally worth the time!  Raccoon Caverns is a little “hole-in-the-wall” kind of place on the side of Raccoon Mountain.  I was a little nervous until the young tour guide opened the door and led us into a world of underground beauty!  I haven’t seen many things as beautiful as the underground caverns!  This was not touristy at all, and I think that was why I loved it even more.  It was really just a bunch of guys that love the beauty that nature provided us and want to preserve it and share it! We only explored about a mile of the caves, and there are 4 1/2 more miles we didn’t get to see yet!! I HIGLY recommend checking out Raccoon Mountain Caverns if you are in Chattanooga!  I would drive the 1.5 hours up there, just to see them again and come right back home!

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4.  The Hot ChocolatierStarStarStarStar

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Directly across the street from the Chattanooga Choo Choo was The Hot Chocolatier.  Um…Yummo!  It was Valentines day so we stopped in for a special treat.  This place had specialty hot chocolates and cakes and candy.  We picked up a piece of red velvet cake and a chocolate peanut butter cake.  It was delicious!  If you are looking for a special sweet treat, and willing to pay a little more than normal for it, then check out The Hot Chocolatier while you are in Chattanooga.

5.  Walking DowntownStarStarStarStar

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One of my favorite things to do in a new city is to walk the streets of downtown, looking for specialty shops, local book stores, and of course specialty pet stores.  Chattanooga was no different.  The city itself is actually fairly small, and the walk was beautiful.  As you walk around downtown you can tell that the city is trying really hard to revitalize itself.  There are a lot of cool, swanky restaurants in town, but not really a lot of good shopping.  And no pet stores…boo.  You would walk past a beautiful refurbished building and then three really run-down joints, repeating that pattern over and over.  The walking bridge over the river was gorgeous, and the small art district was really beautiful!  I give downtown 4 stars because I think in about 5-10 years, this would be a city that will be a lot of fun!  Right now it is still a little early in their revitalization process for me to consider it as a city I would like to come back to.  I think we saw everything there was to see in our 6 mile walk of the city.  I may come back in a few years to see how far they have come, and hopefully someone will open a cute bookstore or pet store before we return!

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6.  Ruby FallsStarStarStar

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Okay – so a hidden underground water fall is pretty amazing.  I loved the story of how Ruby Falls was started, but the love of this place stops right there.  They have really pushed the tourism here and you have literally 1 min and 30 seconds to see the falls, get your picture, and get moving.  Our guide was super funny, but he definitely had to do his job of herding us like cattle through the caverns and out again.  The falls were absolutely gorgeous, but I didn’t get the time to truly enjoy the beauty.  Honestly, I felt like the mission of Ruby Falls was to push through as many tourists as possible in one day…not my kind of fun.   I will return when I have kids so that they can enjoy the beauty and learn the history, but won’t ever go back on my own.  Been there – done that.

7.  Terminal Brew HouseStarStarStarStarStar

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My other favorite thing to do when I am in a new city is to try out restaurants that are only local, that I can’t eat at anywhere else.  The Terminal Brew House fit this to a T!  The food was local, organic, and delicious!  Joe’s bison burger and my fresh-made hummus were top notch!  The 3-story brew house had a super cool vibe, and I would eat there EVERY time I visit that city. 

8.  DeBarge WineryStarStarStarStarStar

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Of course if you know us at all, or keep up with our blog at all, you know that we added a wine cellar to our home a while back.  One of my goals was to stock this wine cellar with wine from tons of local wineries that I toured myself!  So when I noticed we had a little extra time I hit Google to find somewhere local.  I didn’t have high hopes, because where in the world would you have a winery in the middle of a city?  But we did find one, and it was AMAZING!  DeBarge Winery has a local vineyard right outside of town, but they also have the winery right in the middle of downtown.  Their tasting room was beautiful, the staff was sweet and super knowledgeable, and we LOVED our 12-flavor tasting!  Of course we came home with three bottles, and I would visit again in a heartbeat!

9.  Natural Body Spa StarStarStarStarStar

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Our last stop on the way out of town was the Natural Body Spa.  We treated ourselves to a couple’s massage that was world class!  The facilities were beautiful and calming, the staff was friendly, and our massages were just what we needed for the long ride home.  I would totally visit the Natural Body Spa again, without hesitation!

Overall, we really enjoyed Chattanooga.  It was a great weekend away from our everyday life.  We would give Chattanooga an overall StarStarStarStar rating.  If you are looking for a quick weekend getaway, and you love the outdoors, this may be a city you would like to check in to!

ALS #icebucketchallenge Drama

So when this whole ALS #icebucketchallenge started I was extremely skeptical.  I was sitting around saying “I will never do that – it doesn’t help anyone for me to make a fool of myself.” Boy was I wrong!  Upon further research, I learned the following:

As of Thursday, August 21, The ALS Association has received $41.8 million in donations compared to $2.1 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 21). These donations have come from existing donors and 739,275 new donors to The Association.

Next, I was reminded that my best friend in the world has a close family member that suffers from ALS.  They watch her body deteriorate while her world continues on around her.  They spend so much time hoping and praying for a cure so others won’t have to suffer from this disease.

Wow – I mean – Wow!  Then I watched this heart wrenching video:  **the first part is his super silly #icebucketchallenge, please hang in there and watch his message he shares after he completes his #icebucketchallenge!!  **

This young man says it perfectly – yes we are ticking a few people off – but at least the message is getting out there!  It means that the #icebucketchallenge is working people!!!  I am so sad to think of the fear this young man lives in everyday as he feels his body give up on him.  I don’t want anyone else to suffer like this.

And to top it all off, my sweet nephew challenged my husband and I (yesterday – yes, we met our 24 hour requirement).

Like many others I had heard the term ALS, but didn’t really know what that meant.  It didn’t effect me directly, so I didn’t bother to worry about it.  Since this whole #icebucketchallenge drama, I have spent more time researching about ALS than I have spent watching cute dog videos on Facebook – it is making an impact on me, and hopefully on many others!

I finally caved.  Realizing that if my little video gets even one more person to spend some time researching ALS, or spends time spreading the word about the need for support for ALS, or spends a few of their hard earned dollars donating to research to find a cure….then it is totally worth it!

So here it is:

Yeah – so now that you saw us act  a little silly, please take a minute to learn more about ALS and how you can help!

To Learn about the research that your donation is funding – http://alsa.pub30.convio.net/research/

For some Quick Facts about ALS – http://www.alsa.org/news/media/quick-facts.html

To find a “Walk to Defeat ALS” Walk near you – http://web.alsa.org/site/PageServer?pagename=WLK_landing#.U_Z4EfldUxM

To Advocate – http://www.alsa.org/advocacy/

To Get Involved – http://www.alsa.org/fight-als/

And finally – every little bit helps – To Donate – https://secure2.convio.net/alsa/site/Donation2;jsessionid=74EE0799DB4B0D1FB9ED45CB21ED4734.app214a?df_id=27420&27420.donation=form1

Help #StrikeOutALS!

A New Challenge

I hope you are ready for this one!  I have a LOT to say about this project that has been in the works for a while.  To keep myself on track, let me tell you the big ideas:

1.  We get ideas for projects in the strangest places.

2.  We love UGA Football (no, neither of us went to UGA).

3.  This project was a much bigger challenge than expected!

OK – so where to start.  Let’s start with where we got this idea for the latest project…

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Yes, that is the inside of a Chili’s restaurant.  If you look to the far left of the picture, you see plexiglass signage hanging as a room divider.  See it?  It’s green and frosted…  Well Hubs saw that and just loved it.  He kept talking about it for months and saying he wanted to do something like that in our house.  I couldn’t picture it…but sometimes I just go with it.

So he finally decided how we would take that idea and make it work for us.  We started in the basement.  Here is what our basement looked like.

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Yes, it is kind of a man-cave.  It does look a little different since we have finally upgraded our furniture from those red couches we had in college….about time…I know!

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Above one part of the couch we have these beautiful prints that we bought from the artist during Mule Camp 3 years ago.

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Above the other part of the couch, we have this super cool antique football photo.  Yes…you see a theme coming together now?

We must interrupt here to mention that we make no apologies for not attending UGA, but being super-huge UGA Football fans.  We both graduated from North Georgia and they don’t have a football team, so we cheer on the next closest team.  And…just so you know….I WILL have a degree from there one day!  Then, I guess we will be official.

Now above the TV, we have this….

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Yep – that’s right – a HUGE open wall.  Ugh…what in the world could we do with this space?  It is sooooo BIG!  Well, hubs had an idea!  So we took a trip to Lowes and picked up some plexiglass and we were on our way!

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I started by spending HOURS creating personalized subway art on my Silhouette.  I cut the subway art out of black vinyl, pulled the extra off, covered with transfer paper, and then….handed it over to the OCD husband to put it on the plexiglass straight!  That plexiglass is expensive and I wasn’t about to mess it up!

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Hubs used a little trick of putting my quilting cutting mat under the glass to make sure the vinyl went on straight.  He also taped off the edges where he planned for the other pieces to overlap.

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I was pretty proud of how the subway art turned out!  I LOVE my silhouette machine!  Oh, and I musn’t forget that I had supervisors to help me…

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Next we waited…for our very special wall mounts to come in.  We went to Lowes, Home Depot, Ace, and Michael’s and Hobby Lobby looking specifically for these wall mount spacers and ended up having to order them online.

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So let me explain how they work…  First, Hubs marked and drilled holes in the plexiglass.

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Before I forget, let me tell you the very valuable lesson we learned while drilling holes in the plexiglass.  Don’t use drill bits like this…

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Yep, that is one whole ruined piece of plexiglass there in the background.  The drill just snapped it!  Instead, use a drill bit like this…

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Yeah…this was made for the job! So back to the wall mount spacers.  After you drill your holes, you make sure the art is level and pre-drill holes in the wall.

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Then you put in the base piece by drilling a screw into the wall through the bottom hole of the spacer.

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Then you place the art work over the spacer and screw in the top piece of the spacer to the bottom through the holes you drilled in the plexiglass.

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It ends up with a great finished look when you are done!  We ordered 1/4 inch spacers for the middle piece and 1/2 inch spacers for the side pieces since they would be overlapping a little.  Hubs made a few more exact measurements, checked in with the supervisors, and finished hanging the side pieces with the same steps as the middle piece.

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Now we have a beautiful, unique, one-of-a-kind piece of artwork over our TV.  No more big empty spaces!  I can’t believe my hubby saw that hanging plexiglass at Chili’s and envisioned this!?

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The only thing I don’t like about this picture is that it doesn’t really do the finished piece any justice.  You can’t really tell how super cool it looks coming out from the wall unless you see it in person.  Oh, and I had to add this one more picture of my Willow being a supervisor….just because I love it!

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Moving INto the 21st Century

Yeah….soooo….in our living room, we have this…

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It is the biggest, ugliest, piece of 80’s-ugly furniture that we own.  I mean look at that TV stand!  Black lacquer with silver embellishments…ugh…nasty.  Don’t get me wrong, it has served it purpose…for a long time, but it was past time to see this bad boy go.

The problem is that, as you see, this ginormous TV (that my hubs insisted we have) must sit in the corner of our living room.  We looked at some corner TV cabinets, but our corner is not even (much longer on one side than the other), and the corner cabinets we liked cost a fortune!  We are two teachers over here…with two dogs…and a TEENAGER….we are on a tight budget. 

So guess who came to the rescue!?  You guessed it, my amazing hubby!  He said “hey, I have an idea…” and the rest of the story goes smoothly from 80’s monstrosity to….

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I know!!!!  Isn’t it just PERFECT!?  And guess how much we spent on it…guess….$26!  I mean you can’t beat that for a solid real wood – perfect fit for your house – TV stand! 

Hubs had spent some time staring at that old TV stand (after I mentioned how I hated it, and it doesn’t match anything else in our house), and about 3 days later started building.  He started with scrap wood left over from making the wooden chest for our bedroom.

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He measured, cut, measured, cut, and cut some more.  I can’t believe he didn’t even write down ANY measurements!  He kept all the knowledge in his head!!  Crazy smart I tell you!

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(sorry about the shirtless teenager….it is REALLY HOT in Hotlanta these days!)

They nailed a few things together, took my suggestions for how to create the top piece, and did a little more nailing and finally some sanding.

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Of course all of this was done with our supervisor on site.

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Isn’t she just precious!? I just love that chocolate girl!  Anyways….back to the TV stand.

Hubs added some castors to the bottom, and stained it for a beautifully perfect finish!

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I can’t tell you how happy I am!  This TV stand looks beautiful in our living room, matches the rest of our décor, and was made by the hands of my amazingly talented hubby…all in ONE day!  We only paid $26 for the caster wheels and stain!  You can’t beat that deal!

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Hubs New Toy

Almost two years ago, we bought our first home.  This beautiful home fit all of our must-haves:  a front porch, a shop for Hubs’ cars, in a neighborhood, a basement, and most importantly a big fenced-in yard.

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Here is a better shot of the shop, and of course my brown girl who is always helping me take pictures.

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What Hubs loves the most about our house is getting to work in the yard.  He loves making our yard beautiful, lush, and green…and I love having a yard I can actually walk around in barefoot (it’s like carpet folks!).  Now, for the front yard, we are only allowed to push-mow (per hubs).  Why?….Because we MUST have those perfect lines!

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The back yard is a whole different story.  When we said we wanted a big yard, we got one!  It was already fenced all the way in and was really a big blank slate.  We planted a couple of trees that will mature to give us some shade, but otherwise all we do back here is cut a whole bunch of grass and throw the ball for the pups.

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These pictures don’t even do justice for how big this yard it.  I tried to get the shop in both images so you can see how big the yard is….plus it still goes around on the other side of the shop!  We were blessed that my in-laws let us use their old riding mower for the first year and a half that we were here.

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(This is my sweet nephew on the old mower.)

So, when the old Cub Cadet started to struggle with our enormous yard, we knew we were either going to have to get ready for a LOT of push-mowing, or bite the bullet and get a new mower….and I am NOT push mowing that back yard!

So, for those of you that know my hubs, you know he spent a TON of time researching and comparing until he left with his dad and finally came home with this…

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He couldn’t wait to see how this big boy worked on the back yard….so without changing from his work clothes, and going in the dark, our grass got a little trim!  Do you think it is dangerous to ride with the gas can on the front like that?!

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I even think I won’t mind cutting the grass on this bad boy!

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I know that grass cutting is going to be a fun chore for a while….so if you don’t hear from  us…check the back yard! Smile

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Cheap Sweetness ~ You Float My Boat

It has been a while since I have shared a “Cheap Sweetness” idea with you all, and to be honest, it has been a while since I have actually done anything like this.  These 2Teachers are wrapping up the school year and have been super duper busy, but after I sat here and watched my husband spend his Saturday helping one neighbor fix his air conditioner, then help another neighbor fix his lawn mower, and finally do a job for a third neighbor to fix his son’s car, I figured he deserved a little something to let him know I love and appreciate him.

I jumped on the computer and went to my favorite place for these kind of ideas, www.thedatingdivas.com.  I found this super cute idea and went to work creating my own version.

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I thought this little “You Float My Boat” basket was so cute, and a perfect cool treat after Hubs’ long day of work.  I started by creating my tags and labels on my Silhouette.

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I used my Gold Sketch Pen to let the Silhouette draw out the designs on a piece of cardboard so the tags would be stiff.

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I know I am a craft-dork, but I get so excited watching the Silhouette work.  It just amazes me!  After the design was finished, I cut them out and used my colored pencils and markers to add a little more color.

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Of course, I had tons of help while I worked.  The girls LOVE when I craft, because they get to chill out in the cool basement.

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So here are my dorky notes that I added to the bottles for the ice cream floats.  (PS – Dorky is how we show our love around here 🙂

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Aren’t they super cute?  I added the overall gift tag, the bottles, some mason jars (because what else do southerner’s use for ice cream floats??), straws, spoons, and of course some yummy vanilla ice cream to a basket I had around the house.

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Hubs was super surprised when he came in the door, and couldn’t wait to have a float for dessert!  Here we are with our Dorky selves enjoying our floats…

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Hubs really did enjoy his little surprise!  I hope I can give him more days of appreciation now that I have more time to spare.

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