Friday, September 26, 2014

Fan of Friday: Week of 9/26/2014

Apparently, for the last couple months, I've been in love with blacks and grays.

Not exactly practical in 100 degree heat...

In the image below is every item of clothing I've purchased recently (minus two shirts from my England trip).

Black and Gray Wardrobe

Maybe my inner spirit is in a mood, but I just want to wear black. I want to be a badass in black. I'm not. I'm not a badass at all, but black feels good right now. I'm Sandy at the end of 'Grease' in my tight black pants, sleeveless sweatshirt, and faux leather jacket.

I think, after some reflection which really shouldn't be inspired by a post this shallow, that I've been feeling kind of tread on lately and black makes me feel stronger. Less weak. Even if it's just a black top with polka dots made of sleeping kittens.

I don't usually wear black with black, but if I start doing that, someone should really start to be concerned about why I feel so helpless...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

British Youtuber Haul

I promised it on Monday in my post about my trip to England and I'm actually delivering!

It's my first video!


Yes, it's ridiculous. And yes, I felt painfully awkward through most of it. So please be kind.

However, let me know what you think. I would love some feedback, and maybe some ideas of things to talk about if I ever work up the nerve to do this again.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Have You Even Heard of Bournemouth?

A couple of weeks ago, I traveled for work yet again. For the third time in three years, I went back to England to work on the robot of a very important customer. If you'd like to read about my first two adventures, click here or here. The robot was having a different problem than the last two times I was sent out to fix it, so fortunately I didn't need to pack my tools and could travel a bit lighter. It did mean a handful of side effects I wasn't expecting since this wasn't the usual problem, but nothing too catastrophic.

The first time I went to England for work, we worked in Bournemouth but stayed in Basingstoke. The second time, we both worked and stayed in Basingstoke. This time, we stayed in Bournemouth and worked in both Basingstoke and Bournemouth. It made for a longer day than normal, but it was even longer by all the celebratory pints my coworkers kept throwing back afterwards. And it did guarantee that we got to eat at our favorite restaurant, the Portsmouth Arms in Basingstoke. I was quite sad to learn that it was a chain, though.


The hotel we stayed at, the Royal Norfolk, had to be the prettiest hotel I'd ever seen. Every little detail was gorgeous. It made me feel like a princess and a complete mess at the same time. I definitely was not put together enough to fit in.




The walls were a little thin and there was no air conditioning, or even a fan, so I didn't sleep that great. However, everything else was spot on.

Including the location. The hotel sits on top of a hill, surrounded by beautiful old churches. At the base of this hill, a two minute walk, was a beautifully manicured park and the midpoint of the shopping district.

On the other side of the park was the beach. A traditional English beach with a pier, rows of rentable cabanas, and families taking in the last of the sunny summer days.




Once we had finished working, we had a free day to sight-see. We leave an extra day in case there were any unforeseen problems, but we've fortunately never needed to use it. On our last two visits to England, my boss wanted to see Stonehenge and Bathe. This time he wanted to see the ruins at Glastonbury. It sounded like a nice day, but I wanted to spend some more time in contemporary England. In a move that made me incredibly nervous, I asked him to leave me behind so I could explore Bournemouth and do some shopping. It probably wasn't the greatest move for my career, but it couldn't hurt more than any other ridiculous decision I make.

And I don't regret it at all now. I had the best day. I sat in the park, watching tourists pay for the overpriced balloon ride. I found an aviary full of adorable birds that I can only assume chirp with a British accent. I explored the old churches that were still intact.





My favorite part of the day was afternoon tea. Sitting on the veranda of the gorgeous hotel, people watching on the street below. And since I was alone (which I think scared the waitress a bit), I didn't have to share any of my delicious treats with anyone else. I'm not a big fan of tea, but it was probably the best tea I've ever had.


However, most of my day was spent shopping. I brought back a good assortment of goodies and souvenirs. I went into just about every store. I made a list of the things I wanted to buy as I went. And in traditional British blogger fashion, I'm trying to make a haul video. If everything goes according to plan, it should be up on Wednesday.

Stay tuned...

Friday, September 19, 2014

Odile, You Tease

Remember the great storm of 2014? Remember how Hurricane Odile was heading straight for Tucson? She was going to clobber us with five to seven inches of rain. People all over town panicked. The City of Tucson distributed over 10,000 sandbags and people queued for hours to get their hands on the them. My husband's company sent him home early to beat the storm. We charged our electronics and gathered flashlights in case we lost power. We bottled water in case we lost water. We moved everything not nailed down out of our front and back yards.

And you know what happened?

Tucson Odile

Nothing. Every weatherman in town had to eat their hat.

Some pretty clouds that hid the mountains and that was it.

Odile Tucson

Odile missed Tucson completely. Other than some sprinkles of rain in the morning, we didn't get any rain. This may seem like a good thing, but in a desert, we needed the rain. Most of the city was excited for the storm.

It was fun watching all the news programs the next morning. They danced around, trying to avoid admitting they were wrong about the storm. The panic was for nothing.

Although, they're already talking about Hurricane Polo, so they may not have learned anything from this... 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

You Can Always Go Downtown

Usual weekends for us are fairly slow. We like to stick around the house, or at least our side of town. Since this past weekend was an anomaly for our system, it deserves documentation.

Friday started out fairly typical. I ran to the grocery store after work and bought the supplies to make up a double sized batch of Sriracha mac and cheese. We both have lunches for the week now. Round that out with an Amazon Prime showing of 'Beverly Hills Cop', which neither of us had seen before, and it was a nice, average Friday night.

After not being able to sleep, I leaned into it and got up early for a run. Have I mentioned before that I'm training for a run in the beginning of October? It's a five miler and I'm nowhere near that distance right now. My run Saturday morning was 3.1 miles total, but I did have two walking breaks. If I could do five miles with some walking breaks in under an hour, I'd be pretty happy.

Most of my afternoon was wasted lying in bed, finishing my book, Timeline by Michael Crichton. There are definitely some major plot holes, but I'd read just about anything from the man who brought me Jurassic Park.

Then we began our long, busy night. My sister was in a play! A play guys! A friend of hers wrote it and cast her. She had been rehearsing for weeks so we stopped and picked up some hydrangeas as a present when we drove all the way to downtown to see her perform. 

Before the play, we grabbed some dinner at a new place called Diablo Burger. I can't say I found their burgers particularly spicy, but the veggie burger was yummy, the seasoning on the fries was tasty, and I love a place with good condiments already on the table. {Sidenote: the place that we go to for Pub trivia never has any condiments on the tables, even ketchup. When you ask for it, they bring a little tub of it and it's never enough. It's just the worst.)


We timed it almost perfectly, just enough time to inhale some burgers before walking over to the play venue. I'd post some pictures of the play but 1) they all came out blurry and 2) my sister would probably kill me. She was great, though. So proud.

Instead of actual play pictures, how about one of the flyer for the festival?


After the play, my sister and all of her friends and family went out for drinks at the bar across from the venue. I never go to bars so I was excited to try something new. Except they wouldn't let me in. Womp womp. Something about a new law when it comes to driver's licenses. Realized afterward that I had my passport on me so I could have gotten in, but I was so embarrassed that that bar is now dead to me. DEAD TO ME!

Instead, we went to Hub Ice Creamery and I got my sorbet on. I'd never been there before, but it was quite good. We took our tiny cups of delicious, delicious ice cream and wandered around the INSANELY busy downtown. Downtown Tucson, which honestly has always kind of been a joke, is less of a joke now guys. There's actually stuff to do and see. I'm quite proud of my town for finally getting it together after all of these years.

And it had also been forever since I'd just hung out with people. Just strolled and explored and chit-chatted. And of course, took some selfies.


Shaking it up once in a while apparently isn't a bad thing. Who knew?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Changes...

Over the last couple of months, blogging really hasn't been a priority for me. I've been telling myself that I have been neglecting this space because my life has gotten busy, but that's really not true. Yes, I have been busy, but definitely not so much that I can't take 20 minutes and an Instagram picture and form some sort of post.

Let's be real, this blog not exactly about quality for me. It's about just getting it out. Whether it's a journal entry as to what I've been doing or a crazy opinion rattling around in my brain or even a cat picture, I need to express myself.

I'm going to stop waiting to make progress on house projects and post about them as they lay because honestly, I think most people hate those people who can do a whole living room redo in just one weekend. Most of us (especially Sam and Rusty) can't even manage to put together a piece of Ikea furniture in that amount of time.


Anyway, I'll be here more. Hopefully I'll push my comfort zone a bit, even if it's just to have something to write about. I'm bringing back 'Fan of Fridays' and admitting to some loves that are incredibly ridiculous and uncool. I'm going to try some different styles of posts. Knock on wood, I'm even going to try making some videos. If anything, it'll be something to see, like a train wreck perhaps.

And I am totally open to suggestions. If you have anything you'd like to see more, let me know below. I can only run on my own ideas for so long.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Calgary: the Tucson of the North

I mentioned it in my last post, but I did some more traveling!

One of the best perks of my job is the great places it sends me. This time? Calgary, Alberta Canada!

It was yet another whirlwind trip with flying Day 1, working Day 2, cushion Day 3, and flying back Day 4. Fortunately, the work went smoothly so Day 3 was for exploring.

My coworker and I stayed at the Delta Bow Valley in downtown Calgary. The view from my 21st floor hotel room was amazing. The blur of light at the bottom of the picture was a fire truck. My room was directly above a very active fire house. I probably wouldn't recommend staying here if you aren't an incredibly deep sleeper.


It is quite amazing how clean and artistic downtown Calgary is. I feel like it's what Tucson wishes it could be. Tall, beautiful buildings. Clean, polite pedestrians. Actual things to do and see. And lots of weird, large-scale art.


With our bonus day, we hopped in the rental car and drove an hour and a half west to Banff. I was really excited to visit Banff after attending their traveling film festival the last couple of years.

I didn't really knot what to expect, though. Is it a town? Is it a national park? Is it a tourist site? It's kind of all of them. We arrived in the town of Banff, grabbed some lunch, and headed to the visitors' center to figure out where to head. Such a quaint town, stuffed to the brim with tourists.


Our first stop was to head to the base of Sulfur Mountain to catch a gondola ride to the top. 


The views from the top were amazing. It was almost hard to believe it's real. Mind boggling.



Off in the distance, you can see Lake Minnewanka. After heading down the mountain, we crossed the town of Banff to the lake and signed up for a boat cruise tour. I had just enough time to get an ice cream cone beforehand and spill it all over myself. It was worth it, though. Delicious Rolo ice cream...


 

Before our flight left on Day 4, we had just enough time to view Calgary from 525 feet up. From the observation deck of the Calgary Tower. I can't say I like heights, but the glass floor was trippy in a fun way.



I can't say Calgary was one of those dream vacations on my bucket list, but it was a great place to visit.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How I Survived the 30 Day Shred

You know what today is? It's Day 31. DAY 31! I officially don't have to work out today!

I survived Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred!

And in all honesty, by the end, it sucked.

Let's start at the beginning. After our vacation to Hawaii, I was feeling kind of gross. For five days, we ate our faces off without a care in the world because, hell, it was vacation. When we returned home, though, the pounds followed.

To kick start getting into shape, I woke up one morning and decided that it was time to do all 30 days of the 30 Day Shred. Ten days on each of the three levels of workouts. In a row with no days off.

The first ten days weren't that bad. Yes, there were times when it was hard to fit in a workout, but I got through. I stuck with it and I started to see progress. By Day 4, I was able to do more push-ups. Granted, still on my knees, but more of them. My stomach and arms felt firmer. My clothes fit the same and the scale didn't change, but I felt better.

Of course, this was only because I kind of liked Level 1. None of the exercises made me want to fly to Los Angeles with the sole intent of slapping Jillian Michaels.

Level 2 was different. I hate Level 2. About 40% of Level 2 is in plank pose. I hate plank pose. But, I was still so motivated from the first ten days that I pressed on. By Day 15, I could stay in plank pose a little bit longer without wanting to cry. It was still not my type of workout, but I pushed through and counted down the days to Level 3.

In the past when I'd done Level 3, it was hard, but it was better than Level 2. There was only one exercise in plank pose so I didn't hate the exercises as they tried to kill me.

However, I had never attempted ten days straight of Level 3. These last nine or so days of Level 3 have been draining. Mentally, I checked out. I know that every night, I need to suck it up, turn on the DVD, and jump around my living room, but my heart wasn't in it. I have just been going through the motions. My level of commitment and effort just wasn't what it was in the beginning.

A big hit also came from the fact that I traveled for work on Days 26 through 29. This is commitment, guys. I took the DVD with me. I did Supermans on a gross hotel room floor. Just going through the motions, but the motions none the less.


On Day 30, I did do everything I could to try my hardest. It's easier when the end is at most minutes away. I was a Natalie, not an Anita, for the first time in Level 3. Embarrassingly, when I finished, I sobbed. My face was wet with tears and sweat, a conflict in temperature as the salty water ran down my face.

I survived. I survived the 30 days. Here's what I learned on my journey:
  • Committing to a workout regime for 30 days isn't as challenging as I thought it would be. Right about the time it starts to really wear on you mentally is when change starts to happen physically. You get better and it gets a little easier. It pushes you through the next couple of days and then your on to the next level.
  • Finding 20 minutes every day to work out can be incredibly easy. And incredibly challenging. Some days, I'd get home from work and my workout would be the first thing I would do. Some days, I'd do it at 9PM, take a shower, and go to bed. On weekends, I'd do it right before lunch. Those were the easy days. The days before I left for my work trip, I woke up an hour early to work out since I knew I'd be busy all night prepping for my trip. One Friday night, I had a party to attend and an emergency after the party to help with, so I didn't get the chance to work out until very late. I was so exhausted that I thought I was going to sob through my work out. Anyway, point is, if it is important, you stop making excuses and you just do it. 
  • It is possible to see results. I don't know if I'd ever committed to a routine enough before to actually see results, but I can do more push-ups now. I can do more squats and lunges. My arms are stronger. 
  • It is also possible to work out for 30 days straight and not see results. My clothes aren't falling off of me now. The scale didn't go down. If anything, I think it went up. Probably in a 'muscle weighs more than fat' way, but my body looks the same. Granted, I guess that's not why I chose this goal, but it would have been a nice side effect. {Sidenote: I wasn't following the diet program so that may help you see weight loss if that's your goal.}
  • The only way to stick with something as boring and tiring as a workout routine like the 30 Day Shred is to make it enjoyable. Buy workout clothes you actually like to wear. Teach your cat to box with you. Mute the workout and play your own soundtrack. You don't have to hear Jillian mention 'cake walk', and therefore 'cake', yet again. The less you like it, the harder it will be every single day to make it happen.
I am incredibly proud of myself. I was able to stick to a work out routine. That fact alone boggles my mind. It makes me kind of sad, actually. Imagine where I could be if I'd stuck to every routine. At least now I know I can stick with it for 30 days. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Project House Update: An Adequate Paint Job

This project could really be called "how to paint a room that's good enough for now". In case you don't recall, a few weeks ago, I had the the afternoon off work and was dangerously productive. The object of my aggression? The in-wall toilet paper caddy in our master bathroom.

We patched it and it was okay, but it wasn't good enough. We debated on leaving the patch off-color from the rest of the wall until we finally got around to properly redoing the bathroom, but I just couldn't take it anymore. There are too many in progress projects in this house and I got tired of looking at something unfinished. Even if we have to repaint it down the line when we officially redo the room down the line, it needed to be a uniform color to hide the patch. Since with us, it could be decades until we actually get to this room. 

Here's what it looked like 'Before'.


And the 'After'. We chose to paint it the same 'Polar Bear' white we use for all the ceilings in the house. It's warmer in real life than in these shots.


We debated buying a new ceiling light/fan, but we couldn't find any we liked. As a temporary solution, Dan spray painted the old one clean white to match the new paint. It's actually kind of pretty in its new color. He also painted the ceiling vent grate clean white as well.


I tried my best to paint up in the sky light, but it was incredibly challenging. The skylight opening is one foot by one foot and about 18 inches deep. I simply couldn't reach the top of the skylight with a paint brush to cut in the corners. For now, I'm not losing any sleep over it because you can only really see it if you are directly underneath it.


And the drywall patch could definitely still use some work. My mudding skills are usually pretty good (it's basically the only skill I have), but the patch was just too much area to mud to blend it into the wall. However, keeping with the theme of this post, it'll do for now. The light switches and outlets were replaced clean white, but the intercom is still blah beige. Once we have a way to relabel the buttons, that will get a coat of fresh paint, too.


Of course, Zack Morris went back up in his rightful spot above the toilet. I'm a classy broad.


This room will eventually need tile floors (you can't see from these pictures but it is, in fact, carpeted) and a new toilet. Probably a new pocket sliding door as well. At least it's less ugly until we get around to all those things.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My Sparring Buddy

Somehow, I've actually had motivation to stick to a work-out routine for the past two weeks. Today is Day 10 of Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred. Yay! Last day of Workout 1.

Part of the reason I've been able to stick with it has been my little workout buddy. Everytime I get to the cardio boxing portion of the DVD, I spar it out with the Lil' Red. It's a workout for both the doughy little redheads in the house.

video

Don't worry. I never actually hit Rusty. I tap his paw once or twice to get him started and he just wants to hit me back. It's a fun little game to him. I did have to cut his nails, though, so I would stop getting hurt.

I've tried it with Sam, but he gets confused, then offended, then scared.

Also, let's pretend I didn't post a video of me working out, all sweaty and gross, on the internet. Just focus on the adorable cat, people.