Monday, March 19, 2018

House Reno - Garage, Part 1

We are getting closer to finalizing all the decisions on our upcoming house renovations.  Some have come sooner than we anticipated, as in the case of our garage door, which was on the list for replacement as a spring had sprung several years ago, which bent the top frame, which in turn made the top panels bend a bit.  Well, a few weeks ago I happened to be outside when the door was down and noticed this:
Ack, cracks!

So that got moved up on the list and we have a new garage door on order.  This one will change the look of our house - we're going with black, with a row of windows on the top panel.  We've had black carriage lights on either side of the garage door, and they've been faded and have needed replacing for years, so we went ahead and got some new lights, and Jeff installed them over the weekend:
 The broom is out because when Jeff took down the old light, the center part crashed to the ground and broke into many pieces. To which we both said HUH, THAT WAS ACTUALLY GLASS - it was so cheap looking that we thought it was plastic. 
 Light is up, but there's a slight issue - it's not lying exactly flush against the brickwork...
Close up of the bricks - they are uneven, which we like, don't get me wrong - they add texture and dimension to the house.  But that presents a challenge when you're trying to make something like a light fixture lay flush against the side of the house.

We discussed a couple of options, including mounting the light on a painted piece of wood and then attaching that to the brickwork, but we still would have had the flush-mounting issues with that.  Finally, we decided a bit of demolition was the best option, so Jeff drew around the circle of the mount with a pencil, then removed the fixture, grabbed a hammer and chisel, and chipped away at the bricks until the base fit flush against the wall.  I have no pictures of this because I was standing there holding the still-wired-in fixture (covered with a towel for protection) above my head, getting showered with brick dust.  It was quite an adventure, but guess what?  It worked perfectly:
Well look at that!  This bad boy is SECURE.  This is the Urban Barn 13" Barn Light.
Other side, fitted nicely.  GO US.
 And on Saturday night, at 7:34 pm, which just so happens to be sunset, the lights came on automatically thanks to the new Wemo switch timer that Jeff also installed.  

We were standing outside, watching for them to come on (and knew what time sunset was thanks to the Weather Channel app), and there was much rejoicing when it actually worked!  We do not have the best of luck when it comes to making all things wifi work, at least on the first go-round, but our goal is to have most of the gadgets in our home be smart, so this was a good start.  We have the lights set to turn on at sunset (and it magically knows when sunset is because Jeff entered our city into the app on his phone) and turn off at sunrise.  We may get another Wemo switch for the floodlights in the front and side of our house, now that we know we can make it work, LOL.

While we wait for the new garage door to come in, Jeff cleaned out the garage.  Remember when I cleaned out the cabinets in my master bathroom and found enough bottles of shampoo and conditioner that I said I won't have to buy any for the next year?  Well, the same could be said for gallon jugs of vinegar...and fire ant killer...and bug spray.  We don't mean to hoard, but when you don't put things in one central place, you end up buying more.

Also, The Duchess suffered an indignity during the clean out process:

At least Jeff covered her roof with a moving blanket for protection, but I swear, being a short car means being mistaken for a shelf sometimes.  Poor Duchess.  She was so embarrassed.  Jeff gave her a nice wash on Sunday afternoon to make up for her suffering, though.

***Disclosure:  I'm testing out the Amazon Associate program, so this post contains links that might eventually put a few bucks into my bank account, maybe.  More on this decision in another post.

Friday, March 16, 2018

FMM - Spring Break For Adults

It's been spring break here all week, which means that our town's population has decreased by 50,000 people, easily.  This is also the week that we happened to visit when we were considering moving here, back in Y2K (remember all the fuss about that?), and I thought "hey moving to a college town will be great, you hardly notice the students at all" - HA.  Famous last words thoughts.  But because of that, I make it a point to enjoy the few times each year when the students are mostly not here.  So we've gone out to eat a couple times, and even ventured to the new set of restaurants across from the way would I attempt that when the students are in town. 

Spring break also means that Diane is off work all week, so we mixed things up and ran in the daylight!  On Monday we slept in (which wasn't much considering it was the first full day of daylight savings time) and met for our run at 8:00 am at the park where I used to run all the time with my friend Jenny, back in 2010.  It was windy and very cold and we almost bailed on the run but in the end we did a warm up walk and then began our run - and it was so much fun.  It's a more challenging place to run because you go over a couple of little bridges and there's some hilly areas, but it's really pretty and we had a great time.  We ran again on Wednesday, but this time in my neighborhood, where we usually do our weekday runs.  However, at 8:00 am, we noticed a lot more things than we usually do when we're running the the early-morning darkness, so that was interesting.  Afterward, I had to take a picture to document our daylight run:
Look Ma, sunglasses!  Being vampire runners, we don't normally have to wear them, but this week they were necessary.

It was fun to change things up; I wish we could run at the park more often, but it's a little too scary and isolated in the dark, even running with a buddy.  Why can't more of my friends retire so I can play with them during the day?


I have finally joined the ranks of the cool kids - that's right, I'm now the proud owner of a jar of Trader Joe's Everything but the Bagel seasoning:
Now I need to make that two-ingredient bagel dough that's going around the internet and try this out on homemade bagels!

As we live in Hooterville, we don't have a Trader Joe's nearby, but Diane was visiting her kadults in Austin over the weekend and made the trek to buy some, so she picked up a jar for me, yay!


Jeff is off work today so we're going to go look at paint colors for our house.  I think we are getting close to deciding which way we want to go with our kitchen (using Ikea for cabinets, or having them custom built by a local guy), which will be nice, as my brain is on overload with thinking all the time about this.  And while I don't normally dream, guess what?  I have visions of drawer fronts and cabinet finishes swirling in my head all night long.  So choosing a paint color should seem easy compared to everything else, right?  Somehow I suspect there will be more brain swirling, only now in color, ack!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

WWU - Everyone Runs!

I've been back at Planet Fitness for several weeks now, and along with the 30 minute circuit room, Diane and I also hit the 12 minute Ab room, although I can assure you we do not do 12 minutes of ab work in there.  We are up to using three of the machines, and they are quite challenging, especially at the end of our workout.

I also have been arriving early to either walk for 30 minutes on the treadmill, or else do a little speedwork on the treadmill...which is dang hard!  Sheesh, just a little bit of that and I'm a sweaty mess.  Luckily I've discovered what time the air conditioner kicks on (3:47 pm, in case you're wondering) and which treadmill is directly under the blower, so I try to snag that machine on speedwork days.  I've also been using the glute machine, which helps strengthen your glutes as well as stretches your hamstrings.

Despite all of this, my dumb hamstring/glute area has been hurting me ever since the first week of the Olympics, when I developed Olympics Butt from sitting, knitting, and watching all the events for too long each evening.  It's extra irritating because it's bothering me to run; lately it never relaxes and ends up pulling the entire run to the point where I don't feel like I'm getting a full stride in.  I've been doing the hamstring stretches that I learned from my physical therapist back in 2013, but it's not resolving.  Not sure what I should try next, but this is literally a pain in the butt.


On Saturday, our entire group of Renegades showed up to run - even the Renegade babies!  I'm sorry I didn't realize that until I started writing this know I'd have gotten a group picture to commemorate it.  Andi, Diane, Cary, Logan, and I all ran together.  It was warm and humid, and while I thought I'd run five miles, the truth is between the hamstring, heat, and humidity, I was just not feeling it.  Diane veered off to get a few extra miles in, while the rest of us headed back to the clubhouse.  We finished with 3.65 miles and that was good - it was Cary's first time to run with Logan in the jogging stroller, and she did great, but it was also nice to not overdo just yet.

We finished and of course I had to take a picture of Cary and Logan:
First mommy and baby run together!

We were cooling off on the driveway when we saw CC, Loretta, and Mason returning, with Mason in the lead:
Mason was running...
and then, bloop!  Down he went.
But wait, he's back up and charging full steam ahead!

Koda came out so Mason got to pet him:
Koda is such a good dog with the babies.
CC and Mason - those little teeth!  Such a cutie!

Logan and his Gammy...
Juuusstt before he dropped off to sleep...

Monday, March 12, 2018

Spring is Springing!

I know I'm jumping the gun by about a week, but after a very cold winter, we are starting to see blooms on trees and green shoots coming out of the soil!  It'll be another month or so before everything really leafs out - this is the state of our oak trees currently:
The green is some other early-achiever tree; not sure what kind, but I'm happy to see it!  Also, it really was this gray during the day yesterday thanks to a cold front that blew in.

We had two hard freezes here, one that lasted for five days at the beginning of January, with low temps in the mid-20s, and another mid-January, with a week of lows that at one point dipped down to 14 degrees.  Naturally, both of these hard freezes happened when we were out of town (in North Carolina and in Houston), so we couldn't cover the plants in the ground like we normally would.  We tried to prepare for the possibility of extremely cold weather ahead of our trips by bringing our potted plants inside the garage, but it ended up getting super cold there as well, so we didn't know if any would survive.  After the morning lows stopped being so low, we dragged all of the pots onto the driveway so the plants could get some sunlight and water, and last weekend, we decided to see what we could salvage.

The pots were covered in leaves that had fallen from our trees, but once we pulled all of that mess away, we were surprised to discover that some were not only still alive, but were growing!  This sedum, which hasn't looked great for the past couple of years, looks really promising now:
I honestly thought this plant was done for, based on what it looked like in January.

The rest of the plants mostly survived - the beautiful portulaca, with all of its colorful blooms didn't make it, nor did the blue daze bedding plants that looked so good all summer and fall.  Both of those were an inexpensive investment for the return of color so we'll be replacing them as soon as we can find some in our local garden centers.
Back patio - hey, at least it's green.  The living Christmas tree might not make it to next Christmas; I think I underwatered it while it was inside the house.
Other corner of the back patio - the Sago palm did not fare well during the hard freezes; we cut off all of the dead fronds and are hoping it will stage a comeback.
This was another pleasant surprise - after a couple years of not looking great, this plant is growing like crazy with all kinds of new leaves!
Front yard - the plant in the brown pot near the quail family got an upgrade from living on the Island of Misfit, Plants, to coming out for display - it was near dead all last year but staged a nice comeback.
The rest of the front bed, still with some weeds because we started at one end of the house and got tired of weeding by the time we worked our way over here, LOL.
A casualty of winter?  My Hawaiian Ti plant's leaves were mostly crispy and dead, so I cut it back and will see if it regrows.  I love this plant so much that I might just replace it (and move this one to the Island...)

I wasn't kidding about the Island of Misfit Plants - you see, Jeff can't bear to throw any plant in the trash if it shows any sign of life.  I don't want our yard to look ugly, so the compromise is that those plants have to be hidden.  They are in the backyard, on the side of the house, where they either come back to life or die completely...but either way, I don't have to look at them:
The Island is currently home to a barely-alive bougainvillea and something else that is looking pretty wretched.  I take complete ownership of the attitude that plants have to look good to be on display at my house - shape up or ship out, I say!

Speaking of good-looking plants, I'm trying AGAIN with a new bougainvillea:
This go-round, I'm starting it in the front of the house - fingers crossed it keeps blooming all summer like it should!  Don't break my heart again, bougainvillea...I can't take it!

Friday, March 9, 2018

FMM - Abbreviated

I'm fairly low maintenance when it comes to my beauty regime, which could also, quite rightly, be interpreted as lazy.  Most of the time I can't be bothered to do much beyond washing my face in the shower, putting on a sunscreen moisturizer if I'll be going outdoors, and forcing myself to put on a minimal amount of eye shadow and mascara.  But, as you know, I've been playing around with eye shadow a bit more in the last month or so, and because I was doing that, I noticed that my eyebrows, which were never much to begin with, had a lot of white/gray hairs in them, which made them disappear even more than normal. 

I mentioned this to my hairdresser when I had my usual cut and highlight appointment this week (side note, I'm getting a nice streak of gray hair right by my part, so I fully expect to look like a blonde Stacy London one of these days).  Anyway, she said she'd put some dye on them while my hair was cooking:
This is my version of better living through chemistry, LOL.

And BOOM - I have instant eyebrows!  How did I not know this was an option, and why have I not done this sooner?
Afterward, with eyebrows plus new foundation to even out my skintone plus add moisturizer and SPF, all in one step! (told you I was lazy).

Here's a comparison shot from when I was playing around with eye shadow:
It's subtle, but you definitely can see the difference.  Left is dyed brows; right is brows with some help from an eyebrow pencil, so not even fully natural.

Anyway, I'm ridiculously pleased with how easy this was to do.  It will be interesting to see how long this lasts, but I'll probably do it again next time I go back for my hair appointment.


OK, that's all I have time for - we are headed out today to choose our slabs of granite, which should be interesting...who will win, me or Jeff?  Actually we've been pretty good about agreeing with each other's choices - except for the granite.  So we'll see what happens today, mwahahaha.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

2018 Grub Burger 5K Recap!

The race shirt - the design runs down the left side and is super cute!  It's a soft cotton t-shirt, which I love getting and will wear often.

On Saturday, my fellow Renegades and I ran the first ever Grub Burger 5K!  This is a local race, put on by the same group that run many of the local races here; we ran it because half of the proceeds went to a local non-profit that we all support - plus the after-party food was coming from Grub, which is a great restaurant that we all enjoy, so win-win, right?
Renegade Run Club, represent!  Almost everyone ran - Andi is nursing a foot injury, and Mason woke up with an ear infection, so Loretta took him to the doctor while CC ran the race.
Jimmymeow was joking around as he took our group pictures, focusing on Logan - but because I'm so short, I still ended up in the picture, hah!

This race was Logan's first 5K as a runner - he's now six months old, which means that he got to run in the jogging stroller!  It was a cool morning, and because he wouldn't be warming up like the rest of us as we ran, Cary bundled him up.  She put on the mittens that I knitted for him, and it was the funniest thing - he didn't know what to do with his hands so he held them up for quite a while:
Family picture - they are all so cute!  Cary said Logan did great and even fell asleep during the race.

The race started in the parking lot in front of the restaurant.  It was a nice morning, 54 degrees, clear, sunny, with a light breeze.  The race began promptly at 8:00 am, which always feels odd, as we are used to being finished running by then.  I'd had a good strong week of running heading into this, and the plans were to start off with intervals to shake out the race legs/get into the groove, and then alternate running with intervals as needed.

Well plans are just that, plans.  The route ended up being hillier than I expected, and it was harder than I thought it would be.  I was bummed because I really thought I would have a good race, but it was just OK for me.  Honestly, I CAN run, but you'd never know it if you saw me at a race - any race.  I just suck at running races, plain and simple.
Diane and I, post-race.  

We finished and headed into the restaurant for our treats:
Grub is famous for their milkshakes, so naturally that was one of the treats, yum.
This was a Cap'n Crunch cereal shake - man, I LOVED Cap'n Crunch when I was a kid, even though it tore up the roof of my mouth something fierce.

There were Hawaiian-style pulled-pork kolaches, but I wasn't into them, and also beer:
Jeff drank a full beer at 9:00 am, only to tell me that he prefers Shiner Bock.  Well OK then.

This race was the last one that our friend Dan, former running store owner turned race director, would be in charge of; he and his wife moved out of state and he's been coming back for each race for over a year now, but this was it, so Julia and I had to get in one last post-race sweaty hug picture with him:
Goodbye Dan - we will miss you!

Cary, Brian, and Logan headed out to Blue Baker while we were enjoying our mini milkshakes; Jeff heard that he got first place in his age group, so we waited around for a while to see if they were doing awards, but that didn't seem to be happening.  We were walking to our cars when we heard the announcement that awards were starting, so we all went back, which was a good thing, as it was practically like an Oprah event - YOU get an age group award, and YOU get an age group award, and YOU...well, you get the picture.  In case you didn't, here's one:
Jeff, Karen, Diane, and accepting the award for Brian, Jimmymeow! 

Finally, the winners had their certificates and we could head out to BB for a late breakfast.  Because we had mini milkshakes, I didn't order a pastry to split with Jeff, but Jimmymeow was nice enough to share a bite of his with several of us:
Warm and gooey and absolutely perfect!

While I didn't win an age group award, I did get lots of cuddle time with Logan, which even included a little nap as well:
This made up for my crummy race, big time.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Random Renovation Thoughts

Things that I'm learning with our upcoming home renovation:
This is called a headknocker cabinet, and for some reason that name just makes me giggle. 

For the record, I've never knocked my head on it - but apparently enough people have for it be named that.  We are considering replacing it, or maybe just changing the doors to match the new vanity.

Also, I always thought that picking out new vanities for our hall bathrooms would be an easy decision.  NOT SO MUCH.  I swear, this is harder than choosing the cabinet design for the kitchen because there are too many options for bathroom vanities. 

Demo day will not be as wild as they make it out to be on home improvement television shows.  Case in point, the column that will be removed.  I'd love to take a sledgehammer to it, but look what's nearby:
See that window?  We aren't replacing it, so we have to be careful with the demo, dang it!

Everything is expensive, except for drywall repair.  Or maybe it just seems cheap compared to a full house of new flooring, which will be so nice.  But my question is, can someone adopt my pets so I don't have anyone barfing on the new floors?  I realize that isn't the best selling point for them, but I'm open to offers...
 Yu joking, rite?  RITE??
Can't eben look at yu, mom.
Someone 'dopt me, pleeze.  I don't barf too much.  (editor's note:  yes, yes he does - but I guess we'll keep him...)