Monday, January 4, 2016

Sayonara 2015! A tale of a red sofa, beer and New Year's road trip...

2016. Already.  I remember when I was excited for 1999 to get here so we could sing Prince all night long.

2015, what a year for this family!  Painted an entire house by hand with a brush in the spring (the old home) in anticipation for our British visitors that came over for nearly 2 weeks in June (that entailed a 4 day whirlwind tour of Michigan and showed them 3 of the 4 Great Lakes surrounding the state). Then a month later, after they'd left, made the off-the-cuff decision to put an offer on a house in the Thumb.  Without having ours sold or even ready to be put on the market.  But, as we've said all along, God was guiding us and our house sold in less than 2 weeks, then we were moving into this home the 3rd week of October.

As the last week of 2015 hit, we were busy fitting in a few things in before we hit the highway to ring in the new year in a different state with some fabulous people.

This was my main focus last week before we left town:

Getting this couch to my house!  We had the means (truck, trailer, plastic & tie-downs), but not the time.  See, this gorgeous red sofa (looked gorgeous in the photo...more to come on this) was located in Dearborn.  1.45 hours away from our house.  I had already contacted the seller stating that I was interested but wasn't sure when I could get there...the seller contacted me back a few days later stating they were lowering the price to $250 if I still wanted it. Um YES!  But again time and weather were against us.  The day before we were to leave out of state, Hubs said "let's go get it today"... who am I to argue!

So off we went to Dearborn, hauling the utility trailer behind the truck filled with plastic sheeting, a tarp, tie-downs and bungee cords.  And a disgruntled preteen (getting to that age).  We found the sellers house easily enough (thankfully), very nice woman who had a VERY large golden Lab. That apparently used the red sofa as it's bed.  BUT the couch was in great (not excellent as the ad stated) condition and I knew I could clean that baby up.  Well worth $250.

Tom and I carried it out of the townhouse and got her wrapped up well on the trailer to keep the wet and mud off of her:

I do believe Hubs had another reason for being so agreeable to go get a sofa nearly 2 hours away...stopping here:

Owned by the fabulous Shelia Muxlow Rucinski and her brewer husband John.  This duo went through MUCH to get this place opened, with licensing and contractor hiccups, but it is going and the beer is flowing!  Sheila is a distant cousin and also graduated high school with Hubs... a wonderful lady!  PLEASE visit them if you are in the will not be disappointed in the beer selection...the chocolate porter is to DIE for (came home with a growler).

We made it home in the dark with our precious (to me at least) cargo and BIL helped unload it (I gave him leftovers to take home out of the fridge for payment).  I got the Kirby out and Kirby'd every spec of dog hair off of her...Lab hair IMO compares to porcupine quills.  Here she is in her new home and waiting for butts to sit on her:

She's big at 94" long and goes perfectly with my Meijer bargain chairs. Happy dance was done!

So after I got the sofa project finished, I had about an hour to pack suitcases, wine and food for our trip the next morning as well as clean the house (I am one of those that like to come home to a clean home).

Woke up the next day so excited that we were taking a road trip to my beloved 2nd home, IOWA!  I lived in Cedar Rapids for a year back in 2002-03 for work and my former co-workers are FAMILY.  We have normally gone out in the fall every year for a long weekend visit but 2 years passed this last time between visits.  I knew it HAD to happen and going over the last weekend of 2015 worked out for everyone.

My people...

Lu and Jim

Sarah and Justin

These people make my heart happy!

We didn't get on the road at 7am like I had planned, more like 7:45am, but we still made good time at a bit over 9 hours travel time including stops for bladder (more than once of course), food and gas.

The Mighty Mississippi...hello Iowa!

A must stop if you travel on I-80, Iowa 80 Truck Stop, largest in the world!

We stayed with Lu and Jim...they have the BEST guest room we call the John Deere Room.  And here is why:

Jim has a MASSIVE collection of JD and other farm brand Ertl metal toys.  I'm in awe.

On NYE afternoon we made the trek out to Amana, part of the Amana Colonies, one of my favorite places in the Cedar Rapids area. There are seven villages total that make up the Colonies, a communal society formed by religious sect the Inspirationalists in 1714 in Germany and continues today on the Iowa prairie. (Visit for more information).  Yes, the Amana brand of appliances originate from the Colonies, Middle Amana to be exact.  They're also know for their fine woolen products as well as award winning fruit wines...which was our main reason for the visit.

And we couldn't leave without visiting the general stores!

We left Amana and drove to the Czech Village area of Cedar Rapids for a light lunch at Lion's Bridge Brewery (best pork nachos with black bean pico) and HAD to do some tasting here as well...HAD TO.

Cedar Rapids has grown and changed so much since I left in 2003.  The flood of 2008 decimated the city and surrounding homes when the Cedar River rose 19ft above flood level.  Old buildings have been converted into restaurants, condos, markets and lounges. New buildings have gone up. The city is recovering.  It was heartbreaking watching the Dairy Queen I frequented go under water live on TV. Hubs was in Waterloo, north of Cedar Rapids, a few days before the flood waters hit the city, interviewing with John Deere there.  The flood happened (also damaging much of Iowa City down stream) and hiring stopped...just wasn't our time to relocate.

For dinner that night, we went to another brewery (see a pattern?) in Solon called Big Grove.  This place made my heart palpitate!  White paint, black window trim, barnwood, industrial lighting, loved it all!  Plus the beer and food was fabulous. The original old building, that used to house Jonesy's and their fabulous pork tenderloins, was razed and perfectly rebuilt:

The house was carved out of wood, 3D.

Downtown Solon

After all of the travel, food and drink this day, none of us made it past 11:30 on NYE. Party animals.

New Year's day we went out to Sarah and Justin's new home they've built in her hometown west of Cedar Rapids.  This house took them a LONG time to build but was worth it!  It was built to be as energy efficient as possible as well as using recycled products.  Sarah made brunch for us...and began our day of drinking mimosas up to bed time while watching football (Sarah, Justin and kids came over to Lu's for Rose Bowl game) and eating (we took our extra venison ham with us as well as chili, meatballs, dips, cookies, blah blah blah). I didn't get many photos as I was too busy stuffing my face and catching up.

Their view to the southwest

Sarah and Mooz opening her Christmas gift from us

The boys

Love her corrugated metal clad mud room!

Saturday, Lu took us to the biggest Costco I have ever is in an old Amana warehouse and has INDOOR PARKING. INDOOR PARKING! C'mon Michigan...get with it!  This is needed!  This store was for ALL members of family (in other words, they had boy's and girl's clothing not just toddler and baby like Sam's), large furniture and appliance departments, food of course.

After our foray to Coralville (shopping district of Iowa City), we headed up to Springville to Sally's on Broadway so Hubs could get his tenderloin.  Now, when I first moved out here I had no idea what a Maid-Rite was (loose meat sandwich...think of Rosanne in the last years of the show) or a tenderloin.  Was out with co-workers one night downtown and a guy at the table ordered one...out comes this flattened breaded piece of pork that was as big as a platter on a regular size hamburger bun served with a pickle and onions on the side. "What the h*** is that?!" I remember saying. He gave me a bite...and I was hooked.  We've had them of all sizes and tastes over the years, but thankfully Lu and Jim know where the best are located. And lucky day for us, they were Saturday's special at Sally's!  She also served up some awesome draft beer, one being Shock Top Pretzel (what?!), that smells AND tastes just like a hot soft pretzel, and all draft beer come in a heavy FROSTED mug. Perfect!

Sarah and crew came back over Saturday night where we ate up most of the leftovers from the day before's buffet and relaxed by the fire, dreading the next morning when we would have to say goodbye.  Sorry Lu...I cry because I love you all so when we leave.

Was good to see the glow of my Christmas lights on the front porch after 9 hours on the road (Hubs is a driving king). Sad to leave but always happy to arrive home safe and sound.

Konnichiwa 2016! Can't wait to see what this year brings!

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