Monday, April 23, 2018

Honoring Barbara Bush

I know I joke a lot about living in Hooterville - 99% of the time, it's a small town with limited shopping options, which you all know is important to me, hah.  But it is home to a big university, Texas A&M, and it's also home to the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, so when former first lady Barbara Bush died on Tuesday, Hooterville - also known as College Station - hit the news, as that's where the Bush burial plot is for Barbara, George, and their young daughter Robin, who died when she was three years old.

The funeral was held on Saturday morning in Houston, and then the 90 mile family motorcade began, taking Mrs. Bush to her final resting place in College Station.  Earlier in the week, when the route for the motorcade was announced, I told Jeff that I wanted to be there - it felt like something we should do, not only to honor a woman who spent a great deal of her life in service, making an impact on so many lives, but also to show support to her family as they drove by.  I've seen her, George, and their dogs walking around the library grounds a couple of times when I've been there, and they've waved at me, so it felt right to give her one last wave as the motorcade drove by.

The media advised everyone to be in place by 2:00 pm, so right around 1:00 pm we drove to a shopping center near the intersection of Texas Avenue and George Bush Drive, where the motorcade would be traveling down and turning as they made their way to the library.  We met up with Julia and staked our spot on the sidewalk - it wasn't crowded, but I think a lot of people were biding time in their vehicles, as it was a cool day with intermittent rain.  We should have brought folding chairs, but we were fine - we chatted with people around us and got text and Facebook updates from friends further south, saying what time the motorcade had passed through their area.

Police vehicles kept driving by while the road was still open, and then finally they blocked traffic at the intersections, which meant the motorcade was getting close.  But before the procession came through, an odd-looking, probably full of hidden cameras and weapons, white truck-type of vehicle drove by, with a man sitting facing the window on the passenger side, STARING DEEP INTO OUR SOULS as it drove by.  It was very disconcerting - I mean, I knew there were probably Secret Service agents watching the crowds, of course, but to get the stare-down like that was odd - and we all noticed how intense it was.  I've been to the White House and Capitol building and have gone through security and scrutiny, but I guess there's a big difference when it's miles of people lining the street versus more of a controlled situation like in a building.
Julia and I, wearing our pearls for Barbara.  It was sweet - everywhere we looked, women and little girls alike were wearing pearls to honor her.
Jeff and I - umbrellas everywhere because if it's a Saturday in April, it's going to be raining here.
Once the road was closed we crossed to stand in the median - that's where I took these pictures.
People were lined up as far as I could see - turns out, it was about 4.5 miles of people, wow!

The police came by and had everyone move back to one side of the road - I guess the median was too close for the passing motorcade.  We heard short bursts of sirens in the distance and the crowd got quiet, and then we could see the motorcade coming toward us.  At that point I put my phone on video and held it at waist-height, hoping that I was capturing something, but I wanted to watch the procession with my eyes and not through the camera lens.  The video is below - if you listen, you can hear the surprised roar of the crowd when everyone realizes that George W - Barbara's son, and the 43rd President - is waving at us as they go by.

It was all over pretty quickly.  The motorcade turned onto George Bush Drive, and then when they turned onto Barbara Bush Drive, which leads up to the library, over 700 Corps of Cadets from A&M were lined up - it was a nice tribute to a lovely woman.
Yes she was.

Friday, April 20, 2018

FMM - Inside the Garage, Mid-Renovation

An unexpected bonus that has come out of our house renovation is getting free storage in our garage, by way of our old kitchen cabinets.  I didn't think of this, but our contractor offered to hang the uppers in the garage once the kitchen was demoed, and we jumped at that - while we've had open shelving in there, it would be nice to have some closed storage as well.

We decided to stack the cabinets, and all we had to do after they were hung was drill new holes for the knobs on the bottom set, as they needed to be at the top of the door.  Well, I take that back, because we still need to adjust the doors a bit, but I have to say, it was nice, in the midst of all the renovation mess, to be able to straighten up the garage a bit over the weekend:
I say straighten in the loosest sense of the word...everything not on the shelves or in the cabinets either belongs inside the house, or is on deck for our garage sale.

We also got more storage in the garage - and, well, less in the laundry room - by changing up the plan for the laundry room cabinets.  Originally we were going to have both of them raised to ceiling height and then have a short bar for hanging clothes below one.  But we replaced our old washer and dryer recently and the new set is bigger, so there wouldn't have been a lot of space between the washer and the wall for hanging clothes.  I happened to see a picture of our neighbor's laundry room when they put their house on the market, and they had a single cabinet, with a shelf and a longer bar, hung higher, so that's what we decided to do.

So that meant we got another cabinet for the garage:
It's in the background, behind the dishwasher, stove, washer, and dryer.
Cleaning supplies plus lesser-used items (like Goo Gone)are stored in here.  We're going to hang the Swiffer mop, a broom, and a long duster underneath it.

We ended up hanging the white cabinet ourselves, and bought a couple of much-needed tools to do so.  First, we bought a new level, because Jeff's old level was about a hundred years old and so hard to read that every time we'd be working on a project where he wanted me to read the level, old blindy here would get frustrated.  I'm not exaggerating - see for yourself:
The dye in the level liquid had turned clear a long time ago.

We ended up buying this one:
It's a Johnson 24 inch Level and Tool (affiliate link).  I liked it because the liquid vials were larger than some; Jeff liked it for that, plus the viewing window from above was generous.
Do you like how I'm showing you levels on a not-level item?

The other tool that we bought, and sometimes I wonder about us - why do we go so long without some things - was an electronic stud finder:
It's the Zircon center-finding stud sensor (affiliate link).  Weirdly enough they also sell edge-finding stud sensors, but we figured knowing where the center of the stud was would be a better bet for hanging heavy items.

This thing not only found the studs, but also alerted Jeff to wires in the wall by way of showing a lightening bolt symbol, which he noticed that pop up on the screen and then glanced down and sure enough, there was an electrical outlet close to the floor.

By the way, Jeff saw the picture of the stud finder and asked me where I found that background - it's the current kitchen floor!  Bare concrete after tile and thinset have been chipped away.  Looks interesting in a close up shot, but not so much in a full shot:
Soon...very soon you will be covered up with beautiful tile.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

WWU - Exercising During a Renovation

Really a more realistic title would be Not Exercising During a Renovation.  Because that's what has been going on, and honestly, I was caught off guard by how quickly I got off my game when it came to running and going to the gym.  Thanks to Garmin Connect, I can see that I have run a grand total of six times since demo day began on March 27th and - spoiler alert - they have not been long runs, either.

Before the renovation began, I thought that I'd actually exercise more.  I know, stop laughing.  But seriously, I thought that I'd want to get away from all of the mess while the work crew was here, and I'd slip out and go to Planet Fitness and do some extra workouts.  And of course I'd keep up with my running schedule, because no one is here at 5:45 am to work, right?

Well hah.  I didn't factor in how physically exhausted I'd be after packing up and moving pretty much the entire contents of our house, and then once I recovered from that, I was still mentally exhausted from all the decision-making - that sounds trite, but when so much of what you're choosing is permanent, it's all-consuming.  At first I'd lie awake thinking about this versus that for the house, which of course meant little sleep, which meant I was not interested in going out for an early-morning run.  And then, as the stress started to dissipate a bit, I ended up having actual nightmares several nights in a row!  For someone who rarely dreams, having a nightmare was really odd.  And they weren't even about the house - nope, it was always someone who had grabbed me and I couldn't get away...classic nightmare scenario.

The other thing that got in my way of slipping out during the day was that oftentimes, the work crew would be parked on my driveway, blocking my car in the garage.  And while they would have moved their vehicles had I asked (and I did have to ask a couple times for other reasons), I didn't want to stop them from working, so it was just easier to stay home.  I also wanted to be home because they had questions throughout the process (anything from do you want to save this for your garage sale to how high to hang shelves, for example), and it was good to not have any delays because I wasn't there.

This has been a learning experience for me; while I'm a social exerciser who will almost always say yes whenever someone asks me to go for a walk/run/workout with them, I'm also apparently someone who will just as quickly stop exercising, which probably explains a lot as to why I was overweight for so many years...if something gets in the way of a healthier lifestyle, I'm just as apt to let it as I am to work around it.  Good to know.


Speaking of running, on Saturday Jeff and I met up with Diane, Cary, and Julia, who are all training for the Silo half marathon.  They ran a 5 mile loop and then we joined them - I intended to run the second 5 mile loop, but then I realized that I really had no business doing that considering I've only been running 2 miles for weeks now, plus my dumb glute/hamstring issue was still bothering me.  So I cut my run a little short - I still ended up with 3.75 miles, but I was glad I didn't go the full 5.  Yesterday Diane and I ran 2 miles, and today I have an appointment with my chiropractor to see if I can get some relief for that glute/hamstring mess...and also my left heel, as it seems that I'm having a flare of plantar fasciitis.

I'll leave you with our post-run entertainment from Saturday - the baby formerly known as Baby Pumpkin Muffin got to experience his first taste of pumpkin muffin:
Logan might innately be familiar with this taste, since his mama loves pumpkin muffins and ate them while she was pregnant with him...

Monday, April 16, 2018

FULL HOUSE Renovation, Part 3

Day 12:  The theme of this day is millwork - the painters came and caulked the kitchen cabinets and doors, and Robert came by so we went over the new drawer fronts and hardware.  Then more cabinet crew showed up with the floating shelves that will go above the coffee station as well as in the bathrooms (to replace those headknocker cabinets that were above the toilets). 

The cabinet guy asked me how high I wanted the shelves over the coffee station, so I brought out our coffee maker in order to get the height right.  He held up the shelf and I realized that it was too deep for that section - it was just too hefty, if that makes sense.  Once again, I had an initial thought of "oh dang, this isn't what I wanted" before remembering that changes can be made - so I asked if the shelf could be made narrower, and he said yes, it's a simple thing to rip it down.  Whew!  It's funny, even with all the communicating I had with Robert, his vision of a shelf for that section vs my vision was different.  Now I know to hold out a tape measure with the carpenter so that we both have the same vision.

The paint arrived:
This isn't even all that arrived - there were a couple cans of varnish that were used to clearcoat the cabinet drawers.

The painter's helper spent all day caulking every inch of the kitchen cabinets, drawers, and doors:
 This is before the narrower drawer fronts were replaced with the solid blanks.

The cabinet guys installed baseboard and repaired the wainscotting where the columns and their short walls connected:
I'm sure there will be more caulking involved with this - they must buy it by the pallet.

A new windowsill was installed:
The old one had deep grooves in it thanks to Paco's rush to protect us whenever the dastardly garbage truck drives by...

The floating shelves in the hall bathrooms were also installed:
These will be painted white.

Day 13:  We left for an appointment in Austin before the work crew arrived, but came home that evening to primed kitchen cabinets:
The drawers were sprayed with a clearcoat of varnish and then wrapped with paper so that the primer wouldn't cover the clearcoat.
The cabinet doors were lined up all the way down the hallway.

Day 14:  Paint.  Paint paint paint.  Paint all the things: 
More doors.
Even more doors.
Changing things up, here's the ceiling trim.

Day 15:  Paint.  It isn't even CLOSE to being finished, but hey, the drawers have moved again:
Inspector Paco wants to know what's inside of the paper-wrapped drawers.
The doors were rehung on the kitchen cabinets - the final look is getting closer!

Day 16:  Paint.  Also, Paco had to bark at the scary man every time he saw him go by:
Paco did not like the painter when he was on stilts, not at all.  But when he wasn't wearing them, Paco was his best friend.  I told the guy that I could use a pair of stilts, especially with how easy he made it seem to walk around on them.

By the end of the day, the entire house was painted - every wall is the same lovely shade of gray:
Dining room - still needs some molding on top of the wainscoting, but it's getting there.  And check out the tray ceiling!  They did a good job with that - there are three different paint colors on it:  ceiling paint, trim paint. and wall paint.
My office - no more lime green walls.  Much as I loved them, I was ready for a change.
Family room - it's like the mantle was never there!

The paint is all from Sherwin Williams.  Wall color is Silverpointe, trim is Extra White, and ceiling is Ceiling Bright White.  We love how light and airy the house looks already, and it's nice to have every room the same color - I'm going for a more cohesive look altogether, so between having the same tile flooring throughout the house (except for the bedrooms, which will be carpeted) and having all the walls painted the same color, this should tie everything together nicely.

This finished out the third week - the painters still have a couple more days of work remaining, but they, like us, were ready for a break so we all got the weekend off from the renovation.

Friday, April 13, 2018

FMM - On the Road Again, and Again

It's been a wild week over here - I'm just trying to roll with everything and not get too stressed out over all of the upheaval that's happening.  I spent last weekend in Dallas with Allie, who had outpatient surgery last Friday.  She's doing well and recovering nicely; I was glad to spend time with her and especially entertained by seeing her when she came back from anesthesia - apparently she adored the recovery room nurse immensely and wanted to recommend her as a staff star, so she insisted on writing her recommendation while still a bit under the influence.  She gave me permission to share this with you guys:
If you're ever needing a recovery-room nurse, Pushba comes highly recommended!


Because both Jeff and I were out of town, I had to board Paco with our vet.  He was a little traumatized by both the experience and the thunderstorm that blew through on his last night, so when Jeff texted me this picture of Paco riding home, I was sad for him:
Bery upset.  Also, WHERE MOM???

Poor dog.  I felt extra bad when we had to board him again on Tuesday; we had no choice as we had an appointment in Austin that day and with the work crew coming and going he needed to be out of their way.  It's a rough life for a dog sometimes.


Some people say that the happiest place on earth is Disneyland, but we discovered that isn't true...nope, the happiest place on earth is actually at the Teacher Retirement System building in Austin, Texas.  We went there to meet with an advisor and turn in the paperwork for Jeff's retirement, and I swear, every single person there, from the security guard who checked us in, to all of the advisors who greeted each client, to the future retirees themselves - everyone was in such a good mood that we all might as well have been on an airplane heading to Hawaii...that's how pleasant it was.
The countdown has begun to his next career adventure!  July 1 can't come soon enough for Jeff.


After we finished with our appointment, we went out for a celebration lunch at Brio Tuscan Grill, where I had my favorite, chicken Marsala, which was so delicious.  We noticed that the only other Blue Baker outside of our town was right next to Brio, so we had to go check it out:
True blue (baker) fans here, LOL.


After traveling to Dallas and to Austin in the same week, I'm happy to just be home for a while, even with the current state of our house in massive disarray.  Hopefully we will have a bit of normalcy tomorrow with a run and then breakfast at - well, I don't even have to say where, do I?

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

FULL HOUSE Renovation, Part 2

(I'm getting caught up with the renovation updates - we are halfway through week 3 right now; that update will be posted on Monday)

Day 6:  The painter/drywall crew arrived and got to work repairing a lot of cracks that had come from the house settling over the years, plus they removed the wallpaper from the dining area:
In progress...
Wallpaper removed, texture and priming happening now.
Finished!  I can't get over how much brighter, lighter, and roomier the area looks with the columns and wallpaper removed.  And yes, that would be the dishwasher sitting in the middle of the room.

The crew also built out the extension in the kitchen - this is the side that will house a corner cabinet, sink, dishwasher, and pull out trash/recycling drawer:
Inspector Paco checking out the hole in the wall:  Look satisfaktoree to me.

Day 7:  The electrician and his helper put in the outlet and HDMI ports for our TV:
I thought we were prepared for this, but turns out we needed to have the TV mount purchased so the electrician could see how big it was and where the top of the TV would be so he could make sure the outlets will be hidden when the TV is mounted.  No biggie, we just zipped out to Best Buy one evening and bought the mount.

And he also put in and wired the outlets for our coffee station:
It's ridiculous how excited we ALL are about this coffee station - not just Jeff and I, but our contractor and cabinet maker thought it was a pretty cool idea...apparently we're trendsetters with this in our podunk town, haha.
Later in the afternoon, about half of the cabinets were delivered.  I recognized this one right away - it's the coffee station!
Inspector Paco giving the sniff test to the cabinets...
Dis haz funee shadow.

Day 8:  More drywall repair, more demo - will it ever end?  The French doors were removed from my office doorway - I'm having it changed to a cased opening, so the wall space outside of the office will be open:
I hardly ever close the doors anyway, and this will give me more wall space to hang pictures.  Inspector Paco was happy to get back into his office as it'd been closed off for a week.

The rest of the cabinets were delivered, and installed:
So glad we left this to people who knew what they were doing!
This wall facing us houses the refrigerator, stove, and microwave.
Sink and dishwasher side...

The washer and dryer were moved to the garage, and the crew removed the existing cabinets in the laundry room - the wall was patched up and the cabinets will be rehung, only they'll be raised to the ceiling:
We will have a shelf below the cabinets and a short hanging bar as well.  It'll make more sense when you see the room put back together.

Day 9:  I had to leave town this day, so all I know is that millwork was on deck, in the form of baseboards and the kitchen doorway, plus the crown on top of the cabinets.

Day 10:  I was still out of town, but Jeff came home late that evening and Face-timed with me, showing me the kitchen cabinet doors and drawer fronts that had been installed:
Ooh, how lovely!  
Drawer fronts - as soon as I saw them, my heart sank a bit.
The top drawer front frame is too narrow to allow for the cupped drawer pulls that I had picked for the drawers. 
Dis not going to fit, Mom.  We haf problem heer.

Day 11:  I fretted about the drawer fronts off and on all night, and by the morning I'd decided that this wasn't the look I was going for, so I needed to talk to either our contractor or the cabinet guy, Robert.  Well, Saturday morning Jeff came home from running to find the new front and back doors being installed - by Robert, no less!  I was able to speak with Robert via Jeff's phone, told him my concerns, and he immediately agreed and said he'd swap out the skinnier drawer fronts for solid blanks, so that the hardware would work.  Whew!

Here's the new front door:
This will be painted black, and a new door handle will be installed once that is done.
New back door - similar to our old one, only without the windowpane grid sandwiched between the glass.  This will be painted black as well, plus it will be getting a new handle, too.

At the end of week two, everything went smoothly except for the drawer front situation - but even as much as I fretted about it, I knew would be fixed, because that's the kind of crew I'm working with - they want everything to be right, too.  I am finding my voice and speaking not only about the fun stuff with my contractor and crew, but also the "er, this isn't what I was expecting" stuff - and that is turning out just fine.