We have a gas fireplace in our house, and when we moved in it wasn't really working. So, a repairman came out and fixed it for us, but in doing so, he said the wooden mantle surrounding it was out of code as well as the floor directly underneath it. The (very flammable) wood mantle and floor were too close to the fireplace and were a major fire hazard. He ripped the wood mantle off, which was actually very pretty and ornate, and said we should have it fixed. And, so it sat like this for a couple years:
When we redid our kitchen, our contractor did a great job. There were a couple things that went wrong and were the fault of the installers, and so she offered to do the tile on the fireplace for us. Since we were doing it anyway, we decided to add a few things to make the whole room look better, especially since it is the first room you see when you walk in the front door. Should we ever sell this house, I think having this area look nice will be important. The finished when we were on vacation, so it was great to come home to the finished product! Anyway, this is after, with which we are extraordinarily pleased! The rest of the room is currently a play area for the kids, so at least we have a pleasant area to sit while the kids play!
We also now have a mantle on which to hang our Christmas stockings! We didn't have anything before and we hung them on the stair railings. Now, Santa doesn't have to be so confused when he enters the house through our chimney-less gas fireplace . . .
We just returned last night from our longest, craziest road trip yet! We left June 30th, all packaged up in our Odyssey (greatest car ever!!!), and had a great time. We always forget to make note of our mileage when we leave, so I did some calculating of destination to destination, which does not include any of the daily driving around and some small side trips. The total was 3,667 miles, but I'm sure it was probably closer 4500? Not sure. At any rate, here's what we did:
-Left TX and headed for a drive through of Roswell, NM where the husband spent a year working in the oil services industry.
-From Roswell we headed to Flagstaff, AZ, stopping at Petrified Forest National Park and The Grand Canyon. We visited with friends in Flagstaff.
-From Flag, we headed to my brother's in Mesa, AZ, stopping for a few hours in Sedona and driving through Oak Creek Canyon in AZ (LOVE the drive!).
-From Mesa, we headed to San Diego to spend a week with some friends - we rented a place (8 kids, 6 adults) and visited Sea World, Legoland and Balboa Park.
-From SD, we went to my Grandmother's outside Stockton, CA. We stayed and played on the farm (my bro and neices came, too), visited a cousin in Santa Cruz, and also visited some friends in Mountain View, CA.
-From there we went back to my in-laws' in LA, where we took a short day trip to California adventure to see Cars Land, hung out with family and had a small party for the Mars Science Lab Curiosity Rover landing, which was a huge success (the husband is a scientist working on the mission, so it was a nail-biter for us!!
-After the landing we went back to my brother's for a couple days in Mesa, then finally headed home!
My husband did a fair amount of work on the trip (he's lucky to be able to work remotely), but also used up all of his vacation days! We so rarely get to see the friends we went to San Diego with that we couldn't pass that trip up. And, since both our Grandmothers are still alive (mine is 97 1/2, his is 98 1/2), it is really important that the kids get to visit them.
I love road trips because of the endless possibilities! If you want to stop somewhere, you can, and we did just that when we decided to go through NM and hit petrified forest and the Canyon. And, it is such a great opportunity to see parts of the country that you might not otherwise. This is the fourth time we have done this road trip to CA (yep, we did it when the baby was just 4 months old!), and the kids are total troopers and do a great job (many thanks to the TV in the car).
In the end, it was a GREAT trip, but there's nothing quite like being home and sleeping in your own bed :-)