Saturday, September 29, 2012

the pit is gone.

To the right of our front door, was this dirt pit:

We've affectionately referred to it as the "neighborhood litter box." I don't think further explanation is needed here.

So, it was time for us to finally do something to this space. We quickly ruled out any foliage as the area had no drainage, no sun light, and we kill all vegetation.

Ideally we wanted to have this area be a concrete slab- to match our steps and small entry porch. But after a free estimate from a local concrete company, we ruled that out too.

The next best thing to a huge concrete slab? Concrete colored pavers. Back when we were putting in our french drain, we were out in the garden area at Home Depot, and stumbled upon the concrete colored, brick shaped pavers. While not identical to our current concrete, we thought they would blend far better than any alternative, or other type of paver we had seen. So we catalogued the product for when we were ready to tackle the job.

And that time was the minute our house was painted. It looked so chic and clean (post to come soon), and we were itching to make this area match.

We followed these two Lowe's videos about the process, although of course adjusting to our specific situation. We hit up the hardware store on Friday a few weeks back and bought our supplies (tamper, paver base, sand) and purchased the pavers to pick up the next day.

Saturday morning Ryan hit the road for his bike training, and I started excavating. We needed about 6 inches deep cleared for the job. So I dug out the nasty dirt, and tried my darndest to make it level and even.

We then brought in about 2-3 inches of paver base. You have to wet the mixture, and tamp this too. We quickly realized making the whole area 100% level was going to be pretty hard at this point. So we decided the best route was to try and lay down the paver base and sand as best as we could, but then level it off in sections with the brick. That way we'd have something to base our work off of.

We first had to pick a pattern. As always, so many options.


We were leaning towards the Running Bond, or Basket Weave. After laying out a few rows as a sample, we decided on Running Bond. We thought it was a more classic look.

And so we went to town. Paver base, sand, brick, level. tamp. Our best friend for this project was our rubber mallet. And level. Oh, and that green sit/kneel garden stool I picked up on sale at Osh.

And let's not forget our borrowed tile saw. That sucker was able to cut through the brick. And Ryan looked oh-so-stylish wearing my kissy-lip dish gloves.

It took us about two days, and about 20 bags each of paver base and sand to complete. And it was hard. But once we were done, we were so happy with the results.

To top it off, we used Polymeric sand as our grout. This hardens and stays, vs normal sand which would blow away. It was kinda pricey, so we used some regular sand first, and then then special sand on top.

And then we were done- ain't she pretty?

Freshly wet here, so reads much more darker than it is.

Right now it is still empty. I've toyed with a bench, or chairs- but I don't think we'd ever use them, and I don't want it to look cluttered. So we shall see, if I find a good deal on either one, I might try it out. But for now, we just wander around on it from time-to-time, enjoying the cat-free outdoor space.

Lastly, I leave you with Elliot and Riley waiting for me while I was in the garage. Oh-so-stinking cute.

Monday, September 17, 2012

day 3 | münchen (zugspitze)

I was so super-nervous before our trip because I had kept checking the weather report, and it kept coming up cloudy and RAINY. Expected for the whole trip. It originally put a damper on things a bit because we had plans outside of museums and palaces to tour. And we usually leave for trips with a general idea of what we are doing each day of the trip, so we can purchase tickets and such ahead of time. One of our must-do's on our list was to visit the mountain Zugspitze- the highest peak in Germany. And we wanted to try our best to visit on the clearest day, so we could see while up on top. (Not to mention access was 45 euros each- so we didn't want that to go to waste!)

So we checked out the weather on the night before, and it looked like the next day was going to be our best bet. So we woke up that morning, got in the car, and hit the road.

And we were smiles the whole way because the sun was shining, there was not a cloud in the sky, and the views were amazing! You can't beat road tripping in Bavaria!

Our travel book had said that you drive to the town Eibsee, and then catch the train which takes you to the gondola. We didn't have an exact address, but we assumed there would be a sign to show where the train station was.

But, once we got to Eibsee, we couldn't see any signs or evidence of the said train. So we kept driving straight, and then realized we were on the road that took you to the gondola itself. It was only a 15 minute drive or so, and then we found ourselves at the Zugspitze gondola parking lot. Worked in our favor for getting lost!

In true Christina fashion, we arrived right around when the place opened, so there was no line. We paid for our tickets and waited a few minutes for the gondola to come get us.

Once the gondola was back, we loaded up, and in a few short minutes we were at the top. The views were stunning. I don't like heights, but did totally fine on the car dangling from a string. It was questionable when we went over the tower (holy swinging) and I was pretty sure we weren't going to fit in the little hole that the car was going towards at the top (we did)- but it was a quick way to get to the top to get our vista on!

Once we got off, we did what we do best, wandering and taking photos. It was so amazingly beautiful up there. A little nippy (I wore an odd assortment of clothes that day) and a lot of wind. But man, oh man. Stunning.

We decided to enjoy the view over some coffees, so went inside and parked it by the window.

Once we downed our coffee's we went back out, and took in the views. This time stopping at all of the fun sights and taking pictures. One great part of Zugspitze is it is on the border of Austria and Germany. So you can walk back and forth. Sort of crazy to be straddling two countries at once!


After a few hours, the place started to fill up, and clouds started to roll in, so we thought it might be time to go. We again opted for the gondola down because it was so darn quick! (I believe there is a cog train to take- but we realized that as we were on the gondola back down.)

When we hopped off the gondola we were amazed at the long line that had formed throughout the building. We again were thrilled we beat the crowds (here's to hoping when we travel with kiddos some day, they cooperate with the early rising!)

We decided before we would leave, we'd wander around the area for a bit. Right by the gondola is a lake, so we took a stroll over there. It was so peaceful. We both thought it would be fun to stay here for a week and just chill on a paddle boat with a book and a margarita.

After a leisurely stroll, it was time to eat, so we got back in the car. Oh, and I forgot to mention- we learned how to reverse! It was a tricky little bugger, and you had to pull up on this button while moving the stick shift to the left. Of course it was documented.

We drove back to Eibsee and circled the town a bit before settling on Italian. We scarfed down a yummy pizza and caprese salad- then wandered the town a bit. Eibsee is super cute- but oh so closed on Sunday. So we did a lot of window shopping.

elephant alert. 

After our tour of the town, we hopped back in the car and went back to our hotel. We still had a decent amount of time left, so we decided to explore the area near our hotel. Our hotel was very close to the Oktoberfest grounds. During non-beer drinking times the Theresienwiese area is basically a big dirt field. But fun to see nonetheless.

From there we wandered west, into a more residential area.

staircase to nowhere.
COOLEST park ever. 

Then we hoped on the Bahn, and went to get thai food near downtown Munich.

Then walked back to our hotel, finding a McDonald's right next to a Burger King.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

day 2 | münchen.

We were supposed to arrive in Munich around 8:30am in the morning, but with the thunder delays we were delayed too. This wouldn't have been a big deal, except for the fact that our dear fried Brie was in Munich waiting for us. Yes, that's right, we had a friend from over in our neck of the woods, over in Munich when we were too. It was crazy awesome, and we were so excited to hang out.  She was on the last days of her trip, so it was the only day we'd get to spend together.

So I was anxious to get-a-moving.

After landing, baggage, passport controls and so forth, we went to pick up our rental car. This was exciting for us because we had never had a rental car outside of the US. We found a pretty great deal at this site- and just purchased our insurance through the site. The daily rate wasn't too bad- especially for the added convenience and exploring opportunity.

The car rental counters at the Munich airport were pretty fantastic.

As were the restrooms. I know, odd to take this photo, but check out this contraption on the left. It's cleaner, so you spray some on a tissue, scrub, scrub, scrub, and then go about your business. I thought it was great. Clearly.

Anywho, we got our car, the Megane Renault. It was a bit larger than we thought we were getting, but it was fun nonetheless. We actually ended up loving this car, and would most certainly buy it if this brand was sold in the US.

So once we were in the car, we punched in our address in our 100% necessary GPS, and left the garage. Until we realized our turning radius was larger than anticipated, so Ryan went to go back up- and we realized we had NO CLUE HOW TO. We tried hard to the left, as marked on the stick shifter, then tried a press-and-left option, but no go. Deciding to press our luck, Ryan just went forward and luckily we cleared the corner. We'd learn how to reverse later...

It was so fun driving around (Ryan probably has a different perspective since he was the one driving) but as a passenger I loved it. You're able to get a much better perspective of the surroundings in the car.

We loved the signs for exit- cause in English it comes across as something else. Ha.

Since we were delayed, this allowed us to be able to check in to our hotel. We had a great hotel- called Hotel St. Paul. We picked it because it was right by a U-Bahn stop, had free parking, and was close to the autobahn- all of the worlds that we needed. The street we were on was so quiet and peaceful and the area was definitely outside the tourist areas, which was nice.

We were on the top floor, so trekking the stairs everyday got to be a lot- but the place was great. Breakfast included, nice staff, clean. They didn't have AC (which was common for all of our Germany hotels) and no wi-fi in the rooms, only the lobby.

After we checked in, showered, and changed we walked a few blocks and found miss Brie! It was so fun seeing here there, kinda made Munich feel like Sacramento for a few seconds. It was also great to have someone to show us the ropes, since she had been there for a week at that point.

Our first stop was lunch, at the recommended Hackerhaus. We all had beers, I opted to try a Radler (beer + lemon soda) it was good, but got to be a bit too much after awhile. I also ordered Käsespätzle, which looked a lot like mac & cheese.

After lunch we went to St. Peter's Church, and climbed to the top of the tower! It was only a couple of euros, and was to be a great view of the city. The hallway up was very narrow, so you'd have to pull over every so often to let others pass.


But once we were to the top, we were treated with stunning views. We of course snapped photos and videos as we walked around the perimeter.

From there, we wandered back to our hotel to take a quick nap, and then met up about an hour later for our beer tour.

Initially, we were pretty excited about the beer tour. I had done some research online about a few, and this was supposed to be the best. But, the guy who normally ran the tour was out for the day, and his replacement had been working all day- so needless to say she was less than thrilled to be taking us on our tour.

We did learn a bit- about the six different breweries in the city. And how St. Augustiner is the only one not sold outside of the city. (Ended up be our fav of the bunch).

We also stopped at a Hofbräuhäuser restaurant and tried a spread of food I probably would not have had otherwise.

It was a good way to try a few different beers with some explanation, but certainly fell short of any original hopes. Afterward we wandered around the city- then bid Brie adieu, as she was US bound the next day.

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