Framing the House: Part 2

In an attempt to “catch up” with our design selections we have been scheduling appointments like mad and I’ve been super busy trying to make sure that our change orders are finalized and signed. Even though we made the selections for our kitchen appliances, kitchen cabinets, and plumbing fixtures ages ago, we just signed off on the appliances and cabinets today. We had a bit of sticker shock when we saw how much we went over budget on our plumbing fixtures. It was a little outrageous. But I’ll get to that in a minute. I know everyone wants to see pictures pictures and more pictures….so that’s what you’re going to get first!

Last time I posted pictures the first floor was mostly framed but there wasn’t a ceiling on it yet. Since then we got a first floor ceiling, the second floor was framed, we got stairs up to the second floor, and we just got a roof! The roof was being assembled in pieces in our front yard, so we didn’t a ton of progress for a day or so, but then it all went up at once, which was very exciting. 

This picture shows the half bar and the theater area.
This picture shows the half bar and the theater area.

Framing - Basement-Spare-Room Framing---Great-Room Framing - Loft


Framing - Master-Bedroom

Framing---Master-Bedroom-Closet Framing---The-Roof

Yesterday we had our meeting at the Stone Center to pick out the stone that will be used on the exterior of the house. We have a stone Wainscot all around the house, one big stone wall on the front of the house, and the lanai fireplace will also be made out of our exterior stone. Originally I liked a stone called “White to Gray” and Dave liked a stone called “Indiana Brownstone.” 

White to Gray
White to Gray
Indiana Brownstone
Indiana Brownstone

THEN we found a house in our neighborhood that used a blend of 60% Indiana Brownstone and 40% White to Gray. I have pictures of the house but I won’t be a complete creep and post it given that I’ve never even met the owners, but the zoom in on the stone blend looks like this: 

Indiana Brownstone with White to Gray

So we went to the meeting fully expecting to tell them exactly what we wanted, and then we walked outside to see all the displays….and everything changed. Part of it had to do with paint colors. Our favorite paint scheme at the moment includes:

Paint Colors

We’re getting pretty close to saying this is going to be our paint scheme, especially now that we’ve picked out our stone. Our issue was that we weren’t wild and crazy about how these paint colors went with the Indiana Brownstone / White to Gray mix. So we looked around and considered some other options. I had progressively fallen in love with a river rock option called Granite Cobble. There’s one house in our neighborhood that used it, and I happened to see their back patio one day when we were walking Katie. When you see the stone used to make up full walls it looks AMAZING. The Granite Cobble looks like this: Granite Cobble


Dave wasn’t as crazy about doing the river rock as our ONLY stone, but then we saw one more option. It’s called Marquis Mix and it contains 25% Indiana Brownstone, 25% White to Gray, 25% Granite Cobble and 25% of a stone called Castle Rock. It looks like this:

Marquis Blend 2 Marquis Blend

There were two problems with the Marquis Mix:
1) It was not one of our included options which means tat we would have to pay to make the upgrade. There are literally TONS of stone on the house (I think they said over 50 tons in total), so any upgrade can mean spending A LOT more money. 
2) I wasn’t in love with the fourth stone option, Castle Rock, that was added into the mix. It seemed to have a lot more red tinges in it, which I didn’t think looked very good with our paint scheme. 

That’s when we found out some great news: the Castle Rock in the mix is what put it out of our price range. If we made a mix that didn’t include the Castle Rock, it would no longer be an upgrade. SO we could eliminate the part of the mix I didn’t like AND cut the cost. That’s what I call win-win!

So that’s what we’re going to do….the mix will be made up of equal proportions of each type of rock (1/3rd Indiana Brownstone, 1/3rd Gray to White, 1/3rd Granite Cobble). It’s a little scary, because for almost everything we’ve picked out so far we’ve been able to see the final product or something very similar to the final product in advance. There are no pictures of houses with our exact mix, and there are no samples of our exact mix because we’re the first ones to use these stones in these proportions. We’re crossing our fingers and hoping it turns out well! That said, I think the Granite Cobble ties in our siding color a lot better, which makes me very happy. 

Our other house meeting yesterday was to start planning everything A/V in the house…TVs, sound systems, alarm systems, phones…you name it, they do it. I would be completely daunted by the A/V options, but this was the meeting that Dave has been waiting for since we started planning out this house. From what I understand we wired for a television in just about every room in the house excluding my loft (that was intentional), the pantry, and the bathrooms. Even the garage will be wired for a TV. My husband can’t even type and watch television, so the thought of him using power tools while watching television is scary. Personally, I think it’s a recipe for accidental limb amputations. My concerns have been expressed and pooh-poohed, so I will have no qualms saying “I told you so” when my husband is laying in the ER missing a couple of fingers. We’re also wiring for speakers all over the house (which will need to be purchased not long after move-in so I can get rid of all the big ugly speaker plates that will cover my ceilings and so I can blast Christmas carols throughout the house during the Yuletide season. There is also conduit being run all throughout the house so my geek of a husband can mess around with whatever he wants as technologies change. and he won’t have to rip out drywall. 

Next up…picking out our granite, and scheduling an appointment to go over the design of our closets, built-ins, pantry, and my office!

Until later, Ashlen

My 10 Favorite Books

About a week ago my mom was challenged on Facebook to come up with a list of her 10 favorite books of all time, and then challenge 10 people to do the same. Of course I was one of the people she challenges, given that I’m her only child and I spent the vast majority of my childhood with my nose in a book. Instead of challenging 10 people on Facebook to list their 10 favorite books, I’m challenging all of my blog readers to come up with a list and share it in the comments sections! I’m always looking for a good new book to read, and I would love to hear your suggestions. 

I’ll start off with sharing my mom’s list with you:

Mom's Favorite Books  Continue reading

Friday Five

Dave and I kind of have our little weekend routines, but this weekend is going to be a bit different. Dave is heading up to Chicago for a “guys weekend” with some old friends. From what I’ve gathered it’s going to involve a lot of golf and chilling out in a hot tub in the evening. Whatever floats your boat, guys. I also suspect that there are going to be a lot of inside jokes about goats and penguins. If you read this blog with any frequency you know that Dave loves goats, so goat jokes shouldn’t be a surprise. Apparently his other friend has a thing for penguins. Go figure. This trip used to be an annual event, but life gets crazy, people have kids, other people (Dave) spend every other weekend driving out to Kansas for a year…so this weekend’s trip is re-starting an old tradition. I’m just hoping I get my husband back in one piece

Every day there is more and more progress on the construction of our house. We’ve figured out that if we head out there around 6:30pm, they’ve wrapped up work and it’s still light enough to take pictures. Watch out for another update filled with pictures next week. When we explored the house last night, we found that the interior walls in the basement are now complete, the main floor is complete, and they’ve started working on the second floor. Unfortunately they haven’t built stairs to the second floor yet so we can’t explore it in detail. They’ve put up the three dormers on the front of the house, and it appears like our master bedroom / bathroom / closet is close to being finished. There was a new delivery of lumber yesterday, and we noticed that the pieces of our roof appear to be sitting in our front yard. Hopefully today they’ll actually be put into place. I’m also hoping they build that last staircase this weekend so I can head up there to explore the second story this weekend! 


The Wolf of Wall StreetFall Film Challenge Update

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out this post. Essentially I’m trying to watch 25 new movies throughout the autumn season. This past week I knocked one more movie off the list: The Wolf of Wall Street. Overall I think the movie was really well done, and it was certainly entertaining. My only problem was that it left me with a sour taste in my mouth about humanity. I mean, how is it that people can knowingly swindle other people for their own personal greed!?

Next up: Up in the Air. It just arrived from Netflix a couple days ago! Continue reading

Reflections on 9/11

I was only 14. Old enough to comprehend the events of the day, young enough not to realize how they would change the world I lived in forever. I was still living at home with my parents, and though I didn’t know it at the time, I would move to America four months later. The attacks occurred while I was on the 40 minute bus ride to school. I didn’t hear the news until I sat down in homeroom. Even though I had been to New York City once, for a day trip, I actually had never heard of The World Trade Center. At the time, I didn’t understand the enormity of the situation. I understood the enormity of crashing planes into two buildings in Manhattan, but it was the enormity of those two buildings that I did not yet comprehend. At the time we also didn’t know the size of the planes that had hit the towers….we didn’t realize that large commercial airlines had been hijacked to cause the devastation. What I did understand was the seriousness of flying a plane, any plane, into the Pentagon. Who would do such a thing? What nation could possibly be stupid enough to attack the United States? The thought of the attackers being from a religious extremist group didn’t even cross my mind. Oh, how the world has changed since thenContinue reading

Framing the House

Framing on our house began last week, and we’ve been really excited to watch the progress as everything finally starts to take shape! There has been one little caveat to the framing process, and it’s that we’re having a hard time getting pictures of the progress. Apparently the framers like to work really long hours. I certainly can’t give them any grief over trying to get things done faster, or trying to work later into the evening when the temperature dips down just a little bit, but we’re used to the concrete guys who were always gone by 5pm. After Dave got home from work, we would drive over and check everything out without getting in the way of any of the work….and it was still in daylight hours! We headed out to see the progress on Friday afternoon around 5:30pm, and they were still working, so we hung around for about 45 minutes at the neighborhood’s annual kickball tournament (no, we didn’t play). We drove by again and they weren’t showing any signs of stopping, so we decided to wait until the weekend to grab some pictures. It was actually nice to go on the weekend, because we got to walk around and see the progress up close. It was the first time we had the opportunity to check out the main floor. Unfortunately there weren’t any stairs at that point, so even though a lot of the basement walls were framed, we couldn’t really get down there to check it out. We went by on Monday evening while they were still working and noticed that they had put in the stairs and started framing the garage. Dave wasn’t home until later on Tuesday, so by the time we got there it was pretty dark but there weren’t any workers….which meant that we got to check out the basement! Yes, we are crazy future homeowners who are so excited that we’ll use moonlight and flashlights to check out the progress! Thankfully no one called the cops on us. 

Here’s the progress to date:

  • The exterior walls for the basement and the main floor are all up
  • There is a roof for the basement / floor for the main floor
  • Most of the interior walls in the basement are complete, although it looks like there might need to be one more wall put up to separate a hallway closet from the guest bath, another closet space created at the end of a different hallway and the wall separating our unfinished space from our finished space needs to be created (that sounds like a lot, but the major hallway separating the guest bedroom area from the “man cave” space has been created, and the bedroom, walk-in closet, and bathroom walls have all up)
  • There are stairs between the basement and the main floor
  • The interior walls of the main floor appear to be completely framed, including Dave’s study, the powder room, my office nook, the pantry, and the fire place in the great room
  • The roof of the main floor / floor of the second floor is partially complete
  • The exterior walls of the garage are complete, although there is no roof at this point
  • Framing of the lanai is partially complete

There is supposed to be some significant rainfall in the forecast today, which might delay some progress, but I’m hoping they can use that time to still make progress on the remaining interior walls in the basement!

Enough of all this talk….let’s get to the pictures!

Framing Basement Continue reading

If You Knew Me in High School…

High school seems like a lifetime ago, and yet it seems like it ended just yesterday. I graduated in 2005, so it really was no where near yesterday. My high school experience was unique, to say the least. In the middle of my freshman year (which was actually my last year of Middle School in Canada) I picked up and moved away from home. No, my parents didn’t move, just me. Welcome to boarding school. It was a gigantic transition for me, but it was a great decision in the end. I had gone to school with the same kids my entire life. I was a smart kid, but not the smartest. I was a decent athlete but not a superstar. I had friends, but I certainly wasn’t popular. I didn’t really fit in anywhere. Moving to a completely new school in a new country let me “remake” myself. No one knew anything about me, so I got to be the person I wanted to be without all the history and the baggage. The main purpose of the move to boarding school in South Carolina was so that I could focus on being a competitive golfer. I lived in dorms with about 100 other golfers. In the morning we went to school and in the afternoon we golfed. The school was specially set up for the golfers and another academy that was for tennis players. There were also local kids that attended the school, but everyone who went there had to have a “passion” that they worked on in the afternoons. There were dancers, equestrians, artists, and actresses, just to name a few. If you’re thinking “that sounds great” you’re right, it was great. “Great” is a word that can pretty much sum up time in high school. 

If you knew me in high school you would know that golf was a huge part of my life…

Goilfing Continue reading

Why I Love Norwex


My Canadian family and friends are probably thinking “well, yeah, of course you love Norwex” when they read the title of this post. When I’ve mentioned Norwex to my American family and friends most of them have being saying “Nor-what!?” Norwex products are really popular at home, but that might be because Norwex was introduced in Canada before it was introduced in the US. So my American friends, this is the deal with Norwex: it’s a line of cleaning products that is environmentally friendly by reducing the amount of disposable products that you need to use by reducing the use of products like sponges and paper towels, and by reducing or eliminating the use of caustic chemicals. The kicker? Norwex microfiber cloths are actually more effective at removing bacteria from surfaces than using chemicals on paper towels.

I’m always a little skeptical when I hear about products that sound too good to be true. So if you don’t believe me right now, I wouldn’t blame you for two seconds. But there’s a reason why Norwex microfiber cloths are so amazing. In general, microfiber is superior to materials like cotton because its structure allows it to pick up dust and dirt and keep it in the fiber (and away from the surface being cleaned). In contrast, cotton can only pick up some of the dirt and dust, then spreads the rest of it around. Microfiber uses static electricity to remove dust and dirt when dry, and when a microfiber cloth is wet with just water it can clean almost every washable surface in your home.  Continue reading

Friday Favorites

I have to admit, this Friday isn’t getting off to the best start. I was rudely awakened by a loud horn notifying all the residents in the nearby apartments that we better get our butts out of bed and move our cars before they were towed because today is the day they are re-sealing our section of the parking lot. Dave and I had to run down and find a new parking space about a mile away. I have no idea if it was literally a mile, and it probably wasn’t, but it sure felt like it when I had to walk back with my bed-head hair, sleeping t-shirt, and yoga pants. After that came the horrible discovery that we are out of coffee. Dave told me he had stored some away in the pantry, so I didn’t think too much of it when I used up my regular stash yesterday. Turns out he had actually moved the pantry stash into my regular stash so….no coffee for me. 

Things aren’t all bad. I got a fun little package in the mail yesterday and I’m expecting another fun package in the next day or two. I’ll be sharing my excitement about that topic with you in the next few days. Framing on our house finally started this week. I’ll have pictures up once they make a little more progress. As of yesterday evening, it looked like they had completed the interior and exterior walls for the basement and put a “roof” on it (aka we have a main floor). I’m assuming that means that we will finally get to see some above-ground progress today. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but we have fantastic neighbors. Our neighbors behind us and beside us always make an effort to come say “hi” when they see us out at the lot. Tonight is the neighborhood kickball party, and while we aren’t planning on participating, we will probably be out there to mingle and meet a few more of the neighbors. 

Without further ado, let’s move on to five of my favorite things from around the web this week!


UndefeatedFall Film Challenge – Quirky Pickings

Jenn is hosting this awesome movie challenge that I wrote about last Friday. The challenge started September 1st and ends November 30th (not November 13th as I had originally stated…thanks to Jenn for pointing out that little mistake to me). I posted my movie list last week, and I’ve already watched two of them: “A River Runs Through It” and “Undefeated”. I think my expectations for “A River Runs Through It” were a little too high because so many people told me it was their “favorite movie ever.” I liked the movie, but I didn’t love it. I found the plot development to be a bit slow. Still, it was a nice story. I actually ended up liking “Undefeated” more than I though I would. Think of it as a documentary version of “The Blind Side” combined with “Meet the Titans.” 


#Blogtober 14 – The Daily Tay and Helene in Between

The Daily Tay


You have almost a month to prepare for this little challenge…blog every single day in the month of October, and then link-up with the lovely ladies above every single day. Honestly, sometimes I feel like I have soooo much to blog about that a new day can’t come fast enough so I can get a new post up. Other days….there’s nothing there. I’ve never blogged every single day in a month (usually I take the weekends off, but right now I’m bursting at the seams with content so you might see me posting a bit over the next couple weekends). Given that I have a ton of content in my mind right now means that I’ll probably hit a big lull right when this little challenge gets started. That said, I’m always up for a challenge and the girls have provided some Blogtober 14 prompts if you need some inspiration. 


If You Knew Me in High School – Believe in the Sparks and Health, Love & Fire

Believe in the Sparks

This was such a cute link-up idea. I might just have to participate in the next couple of days. In addition to the hosts’ posts, I also really enjoyed reading Amanda’s post on Notes from a Newlywed.


The Two Sides of Andrew Luck – The Indianapolis Star

It’s the first week of the football season, so I couldn’t not share this article about my favorite quarterback with you!


I was facing death, and then He saved me – Kicking Cancer with the Smiths

Andrew Smith played basketball for my alma matter, Butler, from 2009 to 2013 (I graduated in 2011, so he was a player while I was still a student). He was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in early 2014 and has been battling it ever since. Unfortunately Andrew was admitted to the ICU in late July and spent almost two weeks in the hospital. This blog post by him and his wife is the first update that Butler fans have had from them since that scare. I know I’m not alone in my happiness that Andrew is now doing well and praying for his continued recovery!

Until later, Ashlen

All The Joys Friday Favorites

The Grits Blog - Little Friday Linkup

Chasing Beavers and other Canadian Adventures

It had been over a year since I had been back to Canada. We were planning on visiting last Christmas, but neither my Green Card nor my request to travel outside the country while waiting for my Green Card were approved before the holiday. After that it was a matter of finding the time. It’s a two day drive to visit my family (well, a day and a half at least) and that’s only one way. Essentially we need to block off four days of travel time in addition to our visit. “Why don’t you fly?” you ask? Take a look at prices of flights to Winnipeg, Manitoba from your nearest airport, my American friends, and you’ll start to understand why. We would be looking at ticket prices of at least $500 per person. Ummm…no thank you. Plus flying with Katie-dog is difficult because she’s juuuust over that 20 lb cut-off that most airlines use as a weight limit for dogs in the cabin. So yeah, 4 days of driving. You can do the entire drive in one day, but it’s difficult. Even if you only eat at drive-thrus and can hold your bladder really well, you’re still looking at about 16 hours, at least….more depending on the traffic when you hit the big cities like Chicago. 

Dave’s work load had slowed down a bit and he had a long weekend coming up for Labor Day so at the last minute we decided to make the trek up to Canada to visit my family. We left on a Friday evening after Dave was done with work, and after packing up the car (don’t even get me started on that stressful process) we hit the highway. Thankfully Dave’s parents live just off the interstate, about 11/hours from us, which made it a great stopping point for dinner that night. When we were in town for the Independence Day celebrations we stopped in at a new restaurant called The Brass Buckle Bar & Grill. Let me tell you, for a small town this is a spectacular restaurant! So if you ever happen to be driving on I-65 between Chicago and Indianapolis, I highly recommend stopping there for a bite to eat. It’s in Wolcott, Indiana, just north of Lafayette. The first time I was there they had a limited menu because they had just opened at it was a really busy long weekend. I had some fried pickles (which I try at just about every restaurant that serves them) and a burger. All in all it was pretty good. But this last time I was there….I could barely pick off the menu because there were so many delicious-sounding options! I ordered the fried pickles again, then had a grilled cheese with tomato soup. Let me tell you, I am picky about my grilled cheese so I practically never eat them. That said, this grilled cheese was fantastic. The tomato soup was also great, but I ended up being so full that I could only eat about half of it! I would have asked for a to-go container, but we were hitting the road. My point is…we will be returning customers!

After dinner we headed back to my in-laws’ house to pick up Katie-dog (another reason why we stopped to eat dinner with them was so that we could keep Katie in a nice air conditioned place!), then we hit the road to Madison, Wisconsin. We didn’t end up hitting Chicago until way after rush hour, which was great. My parents and I have driven through Chicago so many times over the years that we actually have an IPass to get through all the Illinois tolls quicker (and cheaper!). It’s perfect for times like this when we’re trying to get through the city as quick as possible. We stayed overnight in Madison, then hit the road again the next morning. We were on the interstate until Eau Claire, then headed up to Duluth, Minnesota, and then over to International Falls, Minnesota where we crossed the border into Canada. After that it was only three more hours until we reached my parents’ cabin!

The cabin is located on Lake of the Woods, which spans the provinces of Ontario and Manitoba and goes into the state of Minnesota. Despite the fact that my parents live in Winnipeg, which is in Manitoba, the cabin is actually in Ontario. It’s a large lake, and the northern (Canadian) part of the lake is really rocky. It’s full of lots of islands, big and small. Lake of the Woods is a very popular destination for Winnipeggers in the summer, and a ton of Manitobans have cottages on the Ontario part of the lake. Winnipeg experiences somewhat of a mass exodus to cottage country on the summer weekends. There are other nearby lakes as well…my aunt and uncle have a place at Victoria Beach, which is on Lake Winnipeg. The cottage experience is really different between Lake of the Woods and Victoria Beach. Most of the cottages, including my parents’ cottage, on Lake of the Woods are right on the water. Fishing, swimming, and boating (including waterskiing, tubing, wakeboarding, etc.) are all really popular activities. Victoria Beach is set up kind of like an old English town. Most of the cottages aren’t right on the lake, they’re on sandy streets throughout the town. There are several beaches that all of the cottagers get to go down and enjoy, and there are also little shops like a bakery and a general store where you can pick up supplies (whereas people on Lake of the Woods usually have to run into the closest town….usually Kenora, but Sioux Narrows and Nestor Falls are also options for some cottagers. We’re closest to Kenora, but it’s still a 30 minute drive from the cabin). Lake Winnipeg is actually larger than Lake of the Woods (it’s one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world outside the Great Lakes). It’s sandy (hence the beaches) and shallower than Lake of the Woods. It can get really wavy because it’s pretty open, whereas the wind and waves are often blocked by islands in Lake of the Woods. Cars are banned from Victoria Beach in the summer, so everyone walks or bikes everywhere. The cottages tend to be much closer together than on Lake of the Woods, so there’s more of a sense of community whereas Lake of the Woods is all about the solitude.   Any Winnipegger will tell you that we’re lucky to have a large variety of cabin country nearby!

The first few days were filled with a whole lot of relaxation. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t perfect the first couple of days, but it’s always hit or miss this time of the year. By Tuesday my dad got my Dave out fishing, and he had a lot of fun catching a nice big smallmouth bass (any oxymoron, I know) and a walleye for his dinner that night. They also went out again for most of the day on Wednesday, when the weather was a lot nicer, but didn’t have nearly as much luck catching fish as the previous day. 

Dave with his 16.5'' smallmouth bass.
Dave with his 16.5” smallmouth bass.

Continue reading

Labor Day Weekend Camp Out

Labor Day Weekend

I hope everyone had a wonderful Labor Day (or Labour Day for my Canadian friends and family) weekend. We actually extended the long weekend back out a week and took a trip up to Canada to see my family. It was the first time that I had been back in over a year. I’ll post more about that trip later in the week, but we actually spent the first part of the weekend driving from northwest Ontario back to Indiana. On Friday we drove about 12 hours to Madison, Wisconsin and spent the night there. Dave happens to have a friend that lives right by the hotel where we were staying that night, and she happened to be having people over to watch the Wisconsin-LSU game on the night we were in town, so we headed over and managed to catch the last half of the game. Well, we chatted through most of the third quarter and then saw Wisconsin lose their lead in the fourth quarter. We took off from Madison on Saturday morning and headed for Dave’s parents’ land near Remington, Indiana (aka “The Pond”). We only made one quick stop at a Costco in Illinois to pick up some alcohol for the camp out before crossing back into Indiana where all alcohol sales are illegal on Sundays. 

Because of the traffic in Chicago we didn’t arrive at The Pond until 4pm, but everyone else got there around 3pm. After saying “hi” to everyone and relaxing for a bit we decided to set up our new tent. As I mentioned last week, we bought a new tent for this camp out because our friend had borrowed our tent and we were already considering upgrading to something a little larger than our old tent. I was really happy with our decision to buy the Coleman Montana 8. It did take us a little longer than our old smaller tent, but I think part of that was just because we were trying to figure out how everything went together for the very first time. I was really happy about the size of the tent, especially that we can stand up inside and that it is has much better ventilation. The “door” feature (versus a flap) is also a really nice touch. 

Coleman Montana 8 Tent Continue reading