Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Project House Update: Coats of My Arms

While you would think two people in Arizona wouldn't have much need for a lot of coats, Dan and I could prove you wrong. It is true that Dan only has three or four, but they are nice and big and bulky. Me, on the other hand, I only own one or two nice, big coats, but I must have at least a dozen cheap, light ones.

Up until recently, Dan kept his handful of coats in the closet by the garage entrance. It made sense for him and I've never questioned it. That was until this year.

Over the past year, I've gotten a few more nice coats. Coats that are too nice to just be thrown on my drop pile with all my other crap. I needed to hang them, too. And it made complete sense to me that I hang them in the coat closet with Dan's.

For the five years we've lived in our house, that little coat closet has sat there untouched. Beyond the few coats Dan hangs in it and the big bag of cat food, almost everything in there is just junk. Some people have a junk drawer, we have a junk closet. It was full of spare shelves for shelving units, old baseball caps, pool stuff, a shower curtain, and a deep fryer that we've yet to unbox, to name a few. It was a big pile of crap, sitting on the floor, wasting space that could be used for my lovely stuff.

A few weeks back, while Dan was digging in it, trying to find something, I told him this was our next project. I honestly expected some push-back, but he was on board immediately.

I wish I had remembered to take a 'Before' picture of the big pile of crap, but we feverishly emptied it out before the thought crossed my mind.

The paint was beige and beaten up. There were gaping holes from the work Dan had done on the opposite wall to the dining room. Beyond a shelf across the top and a bar for hanging coats, there was no built-in storage.

Dan had the lovely idea that, since the closet was empty, we should spackle and paint while we were at it. He spent a Saturday spackling, sanding, and repeating. I spent the next day, Sunday, while he was out, giving the space two good coats of 'Polar Bear'. Normally Dan rolls and I edge, but there was very little rolling to be done. My hand was a claw at the end of it because of so many corners and nooks. It probably could have benefited from a third coat, but since it's a small closet, I doubt anyone will ever notice.

When the paint dried, Dan installed some extra outlet plates and I set up the new shelving unit I bought. After that, all that was left to do was to go through the giant pile of crap, that had now moved from the closet into the laundry room, and determine what was going back in.

Some stuff was thrown out, some was donated, some was moved to places it should have been for a very long time now. Between the shelves and some tubs Dan took from the shop, almost everything has a proper home. Helmets get to stay inside with temperature control to extend their lifespan. Beanies and gloves go in a bin. Fold-up chairs fir snuggly in the gap between the shelves and the wall. Spare shelves slide into the space under the shelves, tucked out of the way.

And most importantly, my coats. My coats don't have to be thrown in a pile when I peel them off. Treating your nice things nicely may be the final nail in the coffin that I'm starting to get this whole 'adult' thing.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Fan of Friday: Week of 12/16/2016

You know how sometimes you find a great show that's been on for a while, but it's still airing new episodes, so you binge them as fast as you can so you can catch up?

Now, imagine doing that with a show that's got roughly 70 episodes.

And, oh yeah, each episode is somewhere between three to four hours.

Yeah, that fact right there is a huge reason why I am so far behind on blogging...

...but I'm caught up live on my new favorite show! Critical Role!

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Critical Role is kind of hard to explain. It airs live on Geek and Sundry's twitch channel every Thursday night. It's a group of eight friends who are largely voice actors who play Dungeons and Dragons.

On paper, it sounds so boring, but it's incredibly well done. Since everyone has an acting background, they really think through their characters' decisions and dialogue. They know each other so well that they really have a lot of fun with it. And it doesn't hurt that the stories are well thought-out and intricate. Sometimes they battle an evil demi-god dragon, other times they run around a marketplace trying to figure out if they just unknowingly participated in a drug deal.

Poor Dan had to sit there on weekends when I would just stream old episodes for hours on end. He unwillingly became sucked into it with me. He would never admit it, but he enjoys it now.

Fun little story. Since I was so behind, the merchandise advertised on the show is always long since sold out. I even looked for one of the shirts on ebay. Over time, I caught up on the show and one Thursday, which is traditionally our trivia night, I got to watch it live. That night, my first live night, they re-released the shirt I had been hunting. I ordered it so fast. And it was a good thing I did because by the next morning, it was sold out yet again. The universe loves me sometimes.

It's a great show that I've been trying to convince my friends to watch. They may not be quick to watch it, but they are showing great interest in starting our own game.

If you are interested in picking it up, this episode is the beginning of a good arc.

Or if you want to just want for a short two episode arc, this episode features some great guest stars, including my love Felecia Day.

It is amazing how quickly you can figure out the game from just watching some other people play it, so why don't you get addicted like me?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Halloween 2016

On my crusade to catch up on blogging everything, let's jump back to Halloween.

This year, I decided fairly early that I didn't want to be something 'sexy'. And by 'sexy', I really mean 'slutty and uncomfortable'. I didn't want to have to wear Spanx and worry about pantylines and have numb feet from teetering in heels all night.

And when I bought a giant, brimmed hat for our Hawaii trip, my fate was sealed: Dr. Alan Grant from the cult classic Jurassic Park.

It was a remarkably simple costume. I already had a denim shirt, aviators, boots, and my newly acquired hat. I added in a pair of khakis that Dan hadn't worn for more than a decade and some handkerchiefs that I bought off Amazon and the look was complete. My own bit of flare was a dramatic smoky eye, but it was hidden by the sunglasses most of the night anyway.

Dr Alan Grant

The other half of this amazing costume was talking Dan into being my T-rex. Since my dinosaur onesie is so warm and it is his go-to costume, he was Waldo inside a T-rex. He had great fun being both through-out the night. Here are some of my favorite pictures from that night.

Dr. Grant running from the T-rex:

Dr. Grant shooting the raptors as they came through the window of the control room:

All of the Jurassic franchise characters, including Owen and Claire from 'Jurassic World':

Me swimming in Dan's giant, old pants:

And trying to make them and the glasses look sexy:

And one of my favorite pictures ever, of a beautiful Waldo butterfly emerging from his chrysalis:

It was a great year for costumes. I told Dan afterward that I didn't want to do a slutty costume ever again and he was hurt, but it made the night so much better. Maybe next year I'll be a sack of potatoes or something. Oh! Or on theme, a pile of triceratops poop.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Family Pictures...?

Back in August, my parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. My sister and I are usually terrible children and don't get them gifts for it (that's just how we were raised!), but since it was a biggie, a gift was in order.

I had been thinking about it a lot and wanted to give them a memento, not just a knick-knack like I like to do. After some thought, I realized that the last time, and one of the only times, we had some good pictures of all of us were from my wedding.

And it had been five years since those.

So my sister talked one of her photographer friends into giving us a good package deal and we were not horrible children for a change.

The four of us, Dan, and the photographer, Meredith, spent just over an hour on a beautiful October afternoon at Saguaro Park East. Most of the time was spent trying to not fall over as neither my sister nor myself had worn the appropriate shoes for the off-the-trial pictures my dad wanted.

That was probably the biggest surprise of the whole thing was how much my dad got into it. He had opinions on locations and angles and all that stuff. We kind of assumed he was just going to try to get through it, but he was remarkably engaged.

Now, let's get to the outcome. While my sister's friend Meredith was very sweet and has a great eye for cinematography, the direction of the 'models' left something to be desired. Maybe that's the difference between a 'real' photographer like Meredith and the people who have photographed me in the past; I am not a model. I need someone telling me constantly how to make myself look better.

Because of that, here are some of my favorites:

Images Courtesy of Meredith Amadee Photography

And we did get some very nice ones, too, out of the batch.

Images Courtesy of Meredith Amadee Photography

I feel like the weird ones sum us up better. We know we're better than how we come across, we just aren't doing a good job of it. Maybe that should be our family motto at this point...

Monday, December 12, 2016

My First Comic-Con

First of all, I'd like to say that I'm WAAAAAY behind. I haven't felt like writing much lately, but things are still happening. Things are still going on that should be written about. And since I'm feeling inspired right now, I'm going to put as much of it to 'paper' as possible before it leeches out of my brain. There will be posts about things that happened in September, October, and November, mostly out of order, too, but it's high time for me to catch up.

Back in the beginning of November, I was able to cross one of my New Year's resolutions from last year off my list: go to my first Comic-Con.

Tucson Comic-Con isn't on the scale of most cons across the country, but it was probably the perfect size for my first one. I heard attendance was roughly 8,000 people, but that was up almost 50% from last year.

I talked Dan into it at the last minute and we had no plan whatsoever. In hindsight, we should have had a plan. We should have coordinated with our friends we knew were going, but we procrastinated and just winged it.

At first, it looked like it was going to be a complete bust. After walking the entire convention center floor and finding very little that struck our fancy, we were beginning to think that we had wasted our money. We went back to a booth selling CNC-milled brass jewelry then we were going to head to the exit.

Apparently the brass jeweler (check out some of her awesome stuff here) used to work at the company I do and we got to talking for a while. That gave two of our best friends, Shannon and Jeremy, plenty of time to sneak up and ambush us.

Let me tell you, it's so much more fun doing a Comic-Con when you're walking around with the King and the Queen of the Con. After we hooked up with them, we had a fun afternoon. It was great getting to watch all the people taking photos of each other and determining which booths were full of hidden treasures. I ended up with a brass necklace and this shirt:

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We didn't see any panels or get to meet any famous people, but that's ok. Fun fact I learned: a lot of the vendors at these Cons are artists. They bring a lot of prints and pictures of their work, but if you bring a sketchbook, you can commission most of them on the spot to draw whatever you like. I didn't even know that was a thing. How awesome is that? I think I'll do that next time. Now to think up things worth commissioning...

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


I'm not usually a Black Friday shopper. We have our annual tradition of going to Target on Thanksgiving night, a couple of hours after it has opened. I get a sweater at a discount and the latest season of 'Supernatural', but that's the extent of it.

Not this year.

This year quickly started to spiral and we chose to lean in to it.

Our tradition diverged when we decided to meet up with one of my sister's friends who was getting to Target right when it opened in hopes of grabbing a great deal on a 50" Samsung doorbuster TV. Through poor timing by the rest of the group, I was the only one available to be her 'buddy' right when the doors open and we braved the initial chaos together.

However, by the time we made it to TVs, the one she wanted was long gone. My sister had caught up with us by then and told us the secret that would change how I view Black Friday forever: a lot of people end up putting the doorbusters back. Turns out, in the overwhelming energy of the stampede, people grab what they don't need. Later, they slink it back or just leave it in some random aisle.

Sure enough, less than five minutes later, I saw a man putting one back and I talked him into handing it over to me before anyone knew what was happening.

At this time, Dan finally caught up and decided that the doorbusters were such a great deal, he should pull the trigger on a cheap, giant TV for his shop. Feeling generous, I caved.

From there, we leaned in and started seriously shopping. I can't remember the last time I bought so many things. I am a cheap person by nature, so to go on a bit of a spree is not in my character. Most of it was things I've wanted for quite a while and just finally pulled the trigger. Even now, I still feel some guilt about it all. I'm sure I'll feel more when I pay off my credit card.

Just for fun, here's the full list of all the pointless things I bought {Sidenote: I'm not trying to brag or show-off. This is just a list of the random things we, Dan and I, bought over the long weekend. The big stuff were things we'd wanted to get for a while and the sales online made it a good time to finally do it.}

  • Target:
    • Thursday - 
      • 55 inch cheap TV
      • Holiday sweater
      • Tank top
      • Nyx lip kit
      • Hickory Farms cheese
      • Season 11 of 'Supernatural'
    • Sunday -
      • Christmas Gifts for a one-year-old in foster care (clothes, pjs, toys, etc.)
      • Ipod Nano (the volume down button stopped working on my old one on my Thanksgiving morning run)
  • World Market
    • Saturday - 
      • Quality Street Chocolate Tin
      • 2 chocolate Advent calendars
      • Cookie jar, car with a tree on top
      • Malteses
  • Ulta
    • Saturday - 
      • Ulta 12 days Advent calendar
      • Ulta eye shadow pallette
      • Too Faced blush
      • Lip Stick Queen lipstick in 'Medieval'
  • Online
      • Refurbished Canon camera
      • Second light for blue bathroom renovation
      • Blouse for my sister (Christmas gift), and one for myself
      • Oil for my car
And I'm sure there's more on this list that Dan hasn't told me about yet...

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Today, I Am Sad

...and scared and just plain angry. I don't want to use this blog to discuss politics, but I do choose to use it to discuss my feelings.

Last night, as hope slipped away as the results rolled in, the only way I could cope was to go to bed early and wish that things would be better in the morning. They weren't, but the ache in my heart had started to numb. And as today has progressed, the numbness is slowly spreading through my body.

I had hoped that I would be able to walk into my morning meetings with my head held high. In my meetings where I am repeatedly the only woman sitting at the table, I would feel like less of an outsider because we finally had a female president. I didn't realize how much that dream meant to me until it was taken away.

And today, my heart goes out to every other person who is worried about their tomorrows.

To all women who have been given evidence yet again that sexism is alive and well in America.

To victims of sexual harassment and assault who have been shown that doing those things to other people will not end your career or even really hurt your image.

To members of the LGBTQ+ community who now have a Vice President who approves of conversion therapy.

To Muslims and their families, here and abroad, who have to now worry if a 'ban' could actually happen.

To refuges looking for safety here that now need to look somewhere else.

To Hispanics and Mexicans who have been treated like criminals and second-class citizens.

To anyone on Obamacare who now needs to worry about finding another health care source in case their's is repealed.

To anyone who benefited from Obama's policies, whatever they may be.

To all the future citizens hurt by whatever Supreme Court Justice Trump will appoint and the decisions he makes.

Today, I am sad. I grieve for all of these people, America, and myself. And tomorrow, I hope I can move forward. I hope this proof of how some people chose to wield their power is not wasted. I hope we can somehow use this huge crevasse to address some real issues.

And mostly, I hope that our government is so huge and cumbersome that nothing actually does change.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Aloha Kauai: Days 2 & 3

For a recap of the very start of our vacation, click here!

On the second day of our trip, we were delusional and ambitious and decided to take on an 'easy' hike along the coast of the West Coast of the island. According to my research, there was a long 11 mile hike that required permits or an 'easy' 2 mile hike to a secret beach and back.

Maybe for serious hikers, it would have been easy. But for me, it definitely wasn't. It was beautiful, but it was also 98% humidity, all up and down hill, and completely coated in mud. I was not prepared, but knowing it was only two miles out and two back kept me alive. In hindsight, I'm very glad I did it, but I underestimated it.

Right before you get to the secret beach, you have to traverse a creek. You are supposed to jump from slippery rock to slippery rock. I tried and made it about midway through before falling in. After wadding to the other side, I tried to push it out of my mind. It wasn't until afterward when looking through Dan's pictures did I realize that he had managed to catch this lovely image of me immersed in the creek while the strangers on the other side judged me. Yay...

But like I said, we survived. It was a rough morning for me, but I would definitely try it again. Better prepared, though...

After a veeeeeeeeeery long shower, which still managed to not get all the mud off my legs, we spent the rest of the day exploring the nearby areas of Hanalei and Princeville. We ate way too much shaved ice at Jojo's, caught the sunset overlooking the Kilauea lighthouse, and grubbed down dinner at Bubba Burgers.

After barely surviving the hike, the next day was much more chill. On the way to the trailhead, we passed the Limahuli Garden and Preserve entrance. We spent the morning strolling the grounds and learning about the native plant-life. Our intentions were good to become accquainted with the natural Hawaiian culture, but by the end of it, we were just immature idiots making jokes about plant names. Wili wili...

After a lovely morning of learning, we went into Hanalei for lunch. I pressured Dan into trying authentic Hawaiian barbecue at L & L's and I had pizza down the street at Tahiti Nui's, famous for being a location in the George Clooney movie, The Descendants.

While our rental house was basically on the beach, Dan was concerned that it was not a safe beach to swim. After a bit of research, he found Haena beach park near the trail head, with a life-guard and everything. The views were incredible. The bay on one side and the cliffs of the rain forest on the other. I am training myself to be more comfortable in the ocean, but this desert rat has a long way to go. I think I managed to wade for roughly ten minutes before a large wave knocked me over and I basically crawled back up onto the beach. There was so much sand in my bikini bottoms that Dan was concerned about it clogging the shower drain.

We finished the day with a fresh dinner at Bouchon's in Hanalei. It was the perfect way to start our vacation. We did a lot, we saw a lot, we ate a lot. It's all I ever really ask for in my vacations.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Aloha Kauai: Day 1

I know I am not the most consistent blogger, but one of the reasons I've been missing lately is we finally got around to taking a nice, relaxing vacation. A full week on the North Shore of Kauai. It was amazingly beautiful and I miss it just thinking about it.

We've been to Hawaii before, but this time was different for two reasons: 1) we chose Kauai instead of Oahu and 2) we tried AirBnb for the first time.

Last time, we stayed Turtle Bay and had a lovely time, but in looking back, our favorite moments we outside of the hotel. We ran the numbers and realized that having a beach house to ourselves for a week was slightly cheaper than staying in a nice hotel, so I talked Dan into it.

This was the beautiful beach house. Technically, it wasn't on the beach, but it was house, then street, than beach. When it's a sixty second walk across the front yard to a beach, it counts as a beach house.

The waves weren't safe for swimming on our beach, but they were safe enough to wade through almost every morning.

Another great feature of the beach house was the two horses that lived next door. I don't really understand it, but I think it's a big thing there to let livestock graze on properties to keep the grass and weeds down. This was the view from the kitchen. Seriously, paradise.

The other part of the trip that was awesomely unexpected was the upgrade of our rental car to a Jeep. My husband is a Jeep man. He's got a great '91 YJ that he's had since high school. The fact that we got a free upgrade to a Jeep was the cherry on top for him. And he got to spend the trip attempting to talk up the hard-top Jeep so he can upgrade his own.

Most of the first day we spent settling in and stocking up on groceries at the local Foodland. I'll slowly go through our whole trip, but it'll be a while, like the Mexican food we ordered from Federico's as our first meal on the island. Seriously, my chimichanga took forever...

Monday, September 12, 2016

Mini Trip to Minneapolis

A couple of weeks ago, I took a trip to Minneapolis, for business. Due to flight delays, working on my feet for eight to ten hours straight, and pure exhaustion, we didn't get to venture out much. One of my favorite coworkers and I stayed in the heart of downtown, but we didn't see much other than the customer we were sent to see and restaurants. Very good food, but that was the sum of the trip.

I did manage to remember to take one picture of the downtown skyline from within. It was much more modern and developed than I anticipated. Sorry stereotypes.

I don't know what that building is, but it sure is pretty.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Project House Update: Five Years

Last week, Facebook reminded me of a memory from five years ago: the day we moved into our house. Accompanying it was an album of pictures my husband had taken before we moved in. A collection of images of our house empty and in its original state.

Every year I post the List, a list of all the updates to the house we've managed to accomplish in the past year. However, that doesn't deliver the full impact of how far things have come. So let's break down, room by room, how things have changed. {Sidenote: I was going to clean beforehand, you know, to pretend we don't actually live in our house. But screw that. This is how most of it is on a daily basis. So sue me.} {Second sidenote: A lot of these angles don't show off how much our house has truly changed, but let's just stick to a one-to-one comparison.}

The Entryway

We removed the base boards, painted, and are in the midst of transforming the chandelier. It will eventually be much fancier, but we are lazy, so it is what it is for now. One day, when we install new floors, we'll add new base boards back into the mix.

The Front Room

The best changes to this room is the new floors and the new facade on the fireplace. Just removing that old, tile border around the room made a huge difference. Finishing the mantle is still on the list, but the existing Mexican tiles almost go with the slate tiles below them.

The Living Room

This is the room we actually live in. While it's much better than it was when we moved in, it's definitely more functional than form.

The Kitchen

Same here as with the Living Room. It's been a useful room and that's the problem. When a room is as important as the kitchen, it's a pain in the ass to really work on it.

The Master Bedroom

I love the difference some paint and art can make. And candles. I love those candles.

The Master Bathroom and Closet

Other than the new frosted door, the only difference here is stuff.

The Blue Bathroom

Well...we're working on it. I swear.

The Den

The best change in this room is by far the little fluffy one who is obsessed with that new desk.

The Garage

I rarely share the garage since it seems to always be a work in progress/a hot mess, but Dan's done a really good job with it. Gray, yellow, and black: his colors, if you couldn't tell from the Jeep.

The Backyard

It could be argued that the backyard is actually worse than when we moved in. The pool filter basically imploded a few weeks ago and we're still trying to clean the green water up. Also, I am against herbicides so the weeds are winning the battle, but so what? It's good enough for Turtle and for parties so it's good enough for me.

I still can't believe it's been five years. Back then, I would have sworn than we would have been farther along, but if five years has taught me anything, it's that I knew nothing about home-ownership five years ago. We're getting there, but what's the rush?