Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Motivation Wednesday

*for more INSPIRING WORDS, visit
Via- I'm pretty sure I need this framed in my house

Well it is going to be a short one today because I got an intimidating workout scheduled after work. 10 miles to be done before I sleep. 10 miles on a weeknight. To me that is scary. Not the miles (although for me its nothing to sneeze at), it is the fact that I'm logging this distance on a weeknight. I normally don't like to do mileage over 5 on weekdays because that is about the limit where my body needs some extra downtime. Some people might have this number be 3x bigger, others 3x smaller, but for me that is the limit I like to stick to 90% of the time.

Running is nothing more than a series of arguments between the part of your brain that wants to stop and the part that wants to keep going.:

So why am I doing double the mileage today? Because I took my long run off this weekend. I had plans to do it with a friend, but when they cancelled I baked a quiche instead. It was delicious and I don't regret it, but I need to get those miles in this week. Getting it done will help me feel more comfortable about my upcoming race and honestly be a good stress relief. This week is full, but running/ owning my training schedule always makes me feel better. Monday was kickball, Tuesday was run club, so Wednesday is the winning day. 

My game plan is to hydrate heavily at work, head home at a decent time, and get those sneaks on to get moving. They don't need to be speedy miles, but i want those miles in my running bank. While it is light, I will do one of my normal routes and then as sun sets Andrew will come and keep me company for the last few. I've prepped a dinner than only needs to be popped in the oven and you better believe I have been saving a special podcast episode to get me through this run. 

There is magic in misery. Just ask any runner.Dean Kanazes. Ultramarathon Man.:

Days like this (when I'm intimidated) are when I realize how much running makes me happy. It doesn't always make me want to jump out the door for an hour of sweaty hot mess-ness, but I know that I will feel a lifetime better at the end. Looking forward to rocking this run and getting in another double digit endurance run this weekend.

I'll have Janae's mantra on repeat throughout the run... I can do hard things, I can do hard things, I can do hard things.  

See ya on the other side,

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Settling In

On my lil internet slice, I talk a lot about the ongoings: the training-s, the house project-ings, the daily things that make up our life here. But the plain matter of fact is that this whole life here thing is still new. It isn't brand new, but we've only been Houstonians for 5 months (with a whole crap ton of new happening). With as much excitement about moving to a new place as we started with, it is still hard work navigating a new house, new jobs, new friends, new distance from family. Just a lot of new. 

So it feels nice in those moments where you are just settled. 

The moment where you remember where the cheese grater is and don't use a potato peeler instead.

The moment where you can work your own TV remote.

The moment when your run tracker finally realizes you live 2 time zones away (still hasn't happened yet, but I'm being positive). 

Or like a couple weekends ago, the moments we got to spend at the beach- just Andrew, Cal, and me.

Now it isn't a California beach, but it felt so good to be back lounging the day outside. One of our last dates in CA, we walked along the beach chatting about all the new things to come. We were excited, we were nervous, and we were ready for the next step. This time we got to walk along the beach chatting about all the new things that had come. And look forward to the other ones that are still on their way. 

We laughed about this goofy pup that has rocked our world, ruined our rugs, and provides a very consistent 5:40 wake up call. Having him has been such a fun journey for the two of us. Although... I will not be sad when he stops teething in two months (fingers crossed).

We had a phenomenal lunch sitting on the patio soaking in the sea air. It looked somewhat similar to what our life was like, but I think it put things into perspective that we have a pretty great one here. Yes, I miss my old job (although, I love my new one). And I really miss my old friends (although, we chat almost daily and we are making great new friends). And I miss the life that we started there, but I know we are starting one here that will be just as meaningful.

So there is me being a sap.

Monday, September 28, 2015

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Board and Batten

You've heard about it. You've heard about it again. You've heard about it again and again. You probably believed that it was never going to happen. But. We. Are. Done. The weekend project that dragged on for 4 weeks is in the books and guys, I may be prejudiced, but I think it looks good.

Board and Batten Dining Room- Check.

I love how it looks bright and light. The contrast of the blue from the yellow in the kitchen makes it feel like its own space even with the large door opening that connects the two of them.

And I swoon (maybe that is dramatic, but it just sounds nice) about how friendly and cozy it is. I think it looks more polished than before. And my favorite part of the project is that it is done!

The dining room has been one of the biggest changes since we moved in. Remember how we bought the house sight unseen? Well, this was probably one of my least favorite spaces. The floor to ceiling mirrors, the dated light fixture, the checkerboard floor just seemed dingy and small. But now I love it.

The first big step was getting the mirrors off the wall. Read more about trashing our own house here, laugh, and then consider why on earth we thought we could move forward with this project. 

Next we needed to get the tar from the mirrors. To get technical, we had no real idea what to do. The adhesive literally looked like roof tar and it was stuck to the drywall that we needed to be smooth for our board and batten. Side note- this was pretty much terrifying. Oh great! We don't have mirrors on the wall anymore, WE HAVE TAR. So we did what any sane person would do, we got a flat head screwdriver and a hammer to pry the tar off the wall.

And this is what happened. Even being careful, this process definitely took the top layer of the drywall (which is textured) off with the tar. See above, if you don't believe me...

We went ahead and drywall patched all of these holes- like 40 holes. Do you know what is boring, patching 40ish holes. It took a while (yeah, a long while), but we really wanted the wall to be consistent. Some people actually purchase and adhere a full board to the wall and then add battens to give the section  it's texture, but that just seemed like overkill for us. We thought if we could get the whole room the (relatively) same texture, that we could skip this step. Okay, we were being cheap. A lot of this project was spent convincing each other that we were making the right decision with our fingers crossed behind our back. 

Next we went and sanded the each of the holes and surrounding areas down. Let me tell you- THIS WAS A MESS. We literally vacuumed as we were sanding and white dust went everywhere. Dust in the dishes. Dust in the sink. Dust in the bathroom (and the door was closed). Dust on the floor. Dust on the ceiling. It was pretty much a snow globe on the first floor for a week. I even recently opened up a linen closet and found the dust in there. Are you impressed by my home making skills? Then you are blind.

After we sanded, we needed to get down to the nitty gritty. By that I mean the texture. If you look closely at drywall, you can see the tiny ridges that run on the surface of the material. Replicating this was hard. It isn't 100% the same, but we are pretty satisfied with our results. We took drywall repair compound, a heavily textured roller, and a sponge to match the patched holes to the drywall texture. It wasn't a science and it definitely wasn't an art, but we really needed a consistent wall texture to not make the board and batten look lumpy. This is the one part of the project that I don't oooh and aww over it, but I think we got better than passable- although not perfection. One of the things that Andrew always says to me (over and over) is, "don't let perfection get in the way of good." It is really annoying. And it is really true. Especially in this instance.

At this point of the project, we were thrilled with our progress until we looked around the room and realized... um we haven't actually started the board and batten project yet. Face palm. We raced over to Home Depot to pick out the top rail and the lattices. We chose 1x3 for the rail to mimic the trim that runs throughout the room. It was the cheap and easy option because we didn't have to purchase double the supplies and install both the trim and rail. By matching the trim, we saved ourselves 1 step (for the first time in the history of home ownership).

We taped the lattices to the wall first (you can find these in the lumber aisle super cheap) that we pre-cut to 36 inches tall. We thought that about 1/3rd up the wall looked good in the space and wanted each lattice to be 16 inches from the next. Not all of them are exact (outlets and corners got in the way), but they are (decently) evenly spaced throughout the room. All of this is a total personal preference. The lattices could be taller, shorter, or further apart based on the space and your aesthetic preference. Before we taped the lattices to the wall, we spent A LOT of time making sure that they were perfectly level. This was crucial to do, so that when we laid the top rail we weren't having to fight an uphill battle with the level. After we got the lattices placed, we pulled out the big gun.

This was the hero of the project. We borrowed this air compressor nail gun from a friend and it made all the nailing in happen so quickly. I will say here for the whole internet that this tool is a dream maker. I never used one of these bad boys before, but oh my goodness it was delightful. Honestly, I think we were able to get everything nailed down (16 lattices and the rail) in 20 to 30 minutes. It was awesome.

Now that we had the room looking like the project we started (weeks before), we spent the time that no one wants to do, but that everyone has to do- time on the details. We sanded down where the rails connecting to the existing door molding to make it a smooth transition, we filled the nail holes with putty, and wiped down every single thing in the room from the dust. 

Next we... okay, well next we took about a week off from this project because it was becoming too much. Up to this point, we had been treating home ownership like it was a sprint, but it felt like we were in mile 25 of a marathon. So we sat on the couch, read, took Cal to the dog park, allowed the house to look like a catastrophe, and just enjoyed doing nothing.

It seems like a weird place to take a hiatus, however, because when we got back into fixer upper mode, we really only had the painting left! We painted the top part Misty Blue and the board and batten section Alabaster, the white that we used on every single piece of trim in our house that I love. You may think I'm being dramatic when I say EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF TRIM, but no. It became an obsession.

It didn't quite look right, however, until we caulked all the little gaps. This was the step that really pulled everything together. It sharpened the lines and created a smooth consistent look between all the transitions. Once the caulk was done did it looked like a (dare I say) professional non-amateur did it. 

So that is it. After weeks. No tears (surprisingly). And about 79.5 trips to Home Depot, the Dining Room Board and Batten project is done!

Are you in the middle of home reno hell... projects? Or what is something home wise that you are proud of?


Thursday, September 24, 2015

DIY or Die

Ya know, some things just seem like the best ideas. You get a couple small projects under your belt and feel a little cocky about your handyman skills. Then you watch a couple of youtube videos and you become basically a pro, so of course the universe needs to knock you down a couple rings.

That is what happened this weekend.

It happened so hard.

Like at one point I had tears of laughter in my eyes and the skin on the bottom of Andrew's foot was being pulled off by wood adhesive.

Wood adhesive, yall.

So this is a warning tale, a tale where just because one spends their whole paycheck at Home Depot does not mean one is a home professional, and a tale that could have spiraled out of control very quickly (and in fact did for a bit).

A couple months ago we had our contractor lay hardwood floor in our kitchen and dining room and we love it! The space feels so much cozier with the dark wood floors and the paint colors really pop in contrast. We hemmed and hawed over if we should do it ourselves or if we should have a team of professionals do it and eventually decided to let the contractor install. We assured ourselves that yes we would lay the wood up in the loft/office space and it has been up stairs patiently waiting ever since.

Then we got fancy. We installed some light fixtures, changed out some outlets, remembered what day is trash day, and, probably the worst, watched all the youtube home improvement videos out there. So last Saturday AM, we woke up bright and early, hit our go-to spot HoDo, and about killed ourselves laying floor.

I can't even tell you what went wrong because I have no earthly idea how we could do anything so poorly ever. Not even being hyperbolic. The wood adhesive congealed on fingers, necks, feet, mallets, eyelashes, dust bunnies- basically anything other than the darn floor. It was comical and embarrassing. I felt like I was in one of the Saw movies and was getting punked into a very slow and horrible death.

So I started laughing uncontrollably. Laughing at the preposterous-ness of the situation. Laughing at how all the bad karma I have been accruing from jaywalking to metro finally hit me. And laughing at having my workout shorts literally stuck to my rear end. Literally. 

While Andrew started digging in (and most likely fuming at my adverse reaction) I started googling and texting furiously. I would screen shot some of the texts back and forth to my best friend, but I would fear that you would all think I have an aggression problem towards wood adhesive. Oh, by the way, I do.

So we changed our plans, struggled through wood adhesive being stuck where it shouldn't, and eventually played contractor till it was done. And it looks awesome. It sure as heck wasn't pretty getting there and tempers were sure as heck high, but the loft/office looks awesome.

By the end our spirits were exponentially higher and we snuck in a little treat for the suckers that rip up the floor in who knows when. We patted ourselves on the bat. We returned the power tools to our favorite place. We drank some beer. Much deserved beer.  

That is how you get it done sometimes. DIY or die. It was a tough choice, but we won this time.

Kulhas- 1 
DIY Universe- Laughing at Us 


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fall Bucket List

Well, well, well. It sure doesn't feel like it, but my office calendar tells me that today is fall. I'm not quite sure if I believe it because, ya know, the temps are still in the 90s, but I will go along with it. I celebrate the landmarks that I can because who doesn't love marking the change in seasons while a new list of activities.

I like fall. I mean I don't go crazy over PSLs, but there is something comforting to know that the endless summer will in fact, well in theory, end. I never even knew how much I loved fall until I had my first fall... at 18 when going to school to in the Midwest. I remember seeing the leaves change out my windows and thinking this is what the movies look like - sheltered little Texan I know. My little fall loving heart swoons at the sound of all the leaves rustling while wrapped up in a scarf and drinking hot tea- none of these happen in my life anymore. I mean I could wear a scarf and drink hot tea with my AC on, but it would just be my dog rustling socks/newspapers/absolutely anything across the floor- pretty different. 

It is fall; that is all that matters.

This is what Houston thinks fall looks like...

So even if fall is masquerading as summer, two can play that game! I can pretend it is fall and do fall-y things (while secretly sweating and cursing the heat). That is why I have a theatre degree... to play pretend and then regret it later.

Fall Bucket List

  • Go to a Pumpkin Patch- Goal: try to find one where we are not the only childless people above the age of 18... its a tall order, folks
  • Fall Kickball League- Well this one actually started last week, but the title is Fall kickball league... so it counts.
  • Celebrate My Best Friend Getting Married- We have some extra special dates in the books- including the bachelorette party AND the wedding! There is a lot to look forward to and a lot of planning that still needs to be done!
  •  Run a Half Marathon! In case you missed me whining  talking about it incessantly, October 25th will be here in no time!
  • Take a Weekend Trip- No idea on where yet, but it'll be nice to explore some more of Texas
  • Finish Out the Last 3 Big House Projects (Try not to think up any too many more)

  • 2 Brewery Visits- For research of course...

  • Earn the 10 run free running T-shirt with run club

  • Month of Yoga- More to come on this!

  • 2 More 5ks
  • Hit 100 Blog Posts
  • Check out the Original Ninfas (re-do from the summer list)
  • Work on a New Side Hustling Gig
  • Hit up the Menil Collection (another re-do)

And you may ask where we stand on our Summer Bucket list? Well we didn't bat 1000, but we had big fish to fry (home projects, new job, life, and such). Here is what it ended up looking like... 9.5 out of 15 isn't too bad!

  • Get Cal potty trained- Mission accomplished! Thank goodness :) Not only is he potty trained, but he graduated from puppy class too! 
  • Go camping- Not yet! These Texas temps need to cool down!
  • Check out a performance at Miller Outdoor Theatre- Saw a great performance by the Houston Symphony!
  • See the Hapsburg Splendor Exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston- Not yet! But we did manage to hit up a happy hour there... 
  • Visit the Menil Collection- Not yet!
  • Find a new neighborhood bar near our house- Definitely have a list of growing favorites, but we can always continue these explorations!
  • Eat at the Original Ninfas- We made plans to! BUT (you knew it was coming) the wait was over an hour long... so NO. Hopefully soon though!
  • Check out another local brewery- Wonderful!
  • Visit the nearby farmer's markets- Found a great one near work!
  • See the new gorilla exhibit at the Houston Zoo- Ooops
  • Run 2 more 5Ks- Got one done... and I came in just shy of placing top 3, so you better believe I'm kicking myself to place next time.
  • Join a running club- YES! Cross this off the list!
  • Hit the beach- Wonderful weekend day trip with Andrew and Cali!
  • Get three big-ish projects done around the house- Done times 1,000,000! It is really starting to shape up!
  • Style and enlarge the gallery wall for our new house- Done! I will share some photos soon :)
Anything on your fall bucket list? 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Monday Runday- Disappointment

Remember when I talked about the long run last week? Or maybe when I bit.. I mean discussed the plague I was struggling to surviveI promise there is a point beyond petty self promotion. 

running animated GIF

In the throes of my illness induced google searching, I found out something pretty disappointing. 

The January marathon I planned on running is full.

Full. Like I can't do it.

Like I've been to the registration page no doubt 5+ times and just hadn't bit the bullet on putting my credit card information in to commit in stone.

And now it is too late. 

So I'm honestly pretty bummed. I should have registered for it months ago. I've already been putting the miles in and mentally prepping for it. I've already been talking about doing it to family, friends, and ya know... the internet. I really was ready to get that second marathon under my belt and now I can't do it. Not because of injury, but because I didn't register. Pretty much all my fault. So that kinda stinks.

I don't know what I should do. Maybe I'll sign up for another (much smaller) race a couple weeks later. Or maybe I'll do a larger (hillier race) in February. I'm not quite sure. I know that I want to do another full marathon and have been working really hard to start building back up that level of endurance fitness. I want to feel really excited about the race itself if I'm going to be training hours on end, so I need to find something that I actually WANT to run.

And then there is the whole upcoming October half that is causing some more frustration.  My legs are 100% shot from 9 miles this weekend and I feel like I can't move/ have no will to survive. The first 5 flew by and the last 4 my feet were basically stuck in the mud. My paces were way off what I expected them to be, so overall it has been a disappointing training week.

And I stupidly did a bunch of squats the day before my long run... so that was kinda the worst thing also.

Okay that was a lot of complaining, but cheers to hoping this week training goes better and when crushing out those miles, I get some clarity about the full. Happy Monday!

Friday, September 18, 2015

5 for Friday- Camera Motivation

It seems like more and more blogs these days are getting to die for photos. Everything from an average breakfast to a stellar sunset is BEAUTIFUL and makes me want to print out strangers' photos for my own walls. Is that weird? Yeah- it is. Okay, I won't do it OR I won't show it to you. Kidding. Kinda.

However when I was trying to pull photos for my Ottoman post this week, I was CRINGING at how distinctly behind my photo skills are!  Sometimes the images are too yellow. Sometimes things are blurry. Sometimes the colors look to saturated after my quick and dirty edits. It seems right now that there is just a disconnect between what I see the image looking like in my head and what I see when I upload the images. I know that everyone has their tricks of the trade, but when I read up on them and it doesn't seem to translate into what I want to see.

I do feel good about travel photography. I'm just dabbling in it of course, but here are some of my favorite snaps...

Torres del Paine adventure in Chile this past March

Colorado this summer on a family vacation

Grand Canyon camping during our cross country move

But what I'm not loving are some of the day to day shots, like the following...

Little Cali Boy as a pup- I don't think the image is bad, but it is just not very crisp or dimensional.

I wish that these baby shower photos from this summer didn't have the weird white blur around the cards.

I think this one is too bright...

I feel like the colors are too blue toned here... It doesn't look like what it does in person.

It isn't that I think these images are horrible and it isn't even about keeping up with the blogging Jones, either (I couldn't even if I tried- real talk). I just really want to match what I see in my head with what I see in the final images. So instead of hemming, hawing, and feeling bad about my lack of skills, I decided I wanted to work on 5 camera things over the next couple months. I would really like to feel confident about my camera skills by Christmas time since I got the camera last year for Christmas. Bonus reason- the cutest little niece in the world will be in town, so I have a good subject!

1) Shoot more in natural light

Not only spend some time outdoors shooting, but I want to try to work with natural light to create good shadows and produce light, dreamy images.

2) Shoot in manual more

I would say (generously) I shoot in manual about 60% of the time, but that just seems silly. Since we are lucky enough to have this schmancy camera, I might as well take advantage of it so more manual shooting!

3) Find an online photo storing site

Unfortunately, my images are dumped across multiple computers, external hard drives, and lots in the trash box! There was a heartbreaking (seriously, I way overreacted) moment earlier this year when I lost 70 pics of our niece and pretty much blew a gasket. I need to find a place to dump all my photos in the cloud. Suggestions?

4) Play around with the ISO

To create better images and to make things more interesting, I need to bite the bullet and figure this out better.

5) White Balance

I pretty much ignore this 99% of the time, but then again 99% of the time I complain that my images are too yellow or too cool or too whatever. Correlation much?

So here are my lofty, get my act together with my camera goals. Any thoughts on where I should go to start? Or, better yet, any tips?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Sick AKA Being A Slug

About 90% of the time I believe I'm a real adult. I have to wake up early, pay bills I don't want to pay, and I get a massive *headache* after two glasses of wine. That's pretty much adulthood to me.

That went down in flames this week. I got a cold. I didn't take said of cold. I pretended I was over my cold. And then I crashed and burned. Instead of some Emergen-C and a few extra hours of sleep, I pounded out a long run and a night out watching football.  And now I'm glued to my couch. I'm so over my DVR collection, but don't have the energy to do much else. Reading hurts my head. When I felt ambitious and vacuumed yesterday morning, it was pretty much the most difficult thing I've ever done. I missed kickball, I missed run club, and I haven't done grocery shopping in too long. 

There is nothing in my pantry. Okay, that's a big lie. There is a lot in the pantry and freezer, but all I want is soup and bread. I may be 90 years old. Oh wait, I'm sick and I always like carbs.

My training schedule is even farther off than before and I've realized that my dog REALLY likes to bark. Our neighbors will probably start leaving us hate mail unless we get this under control. I also realized that I'm dangerously close to be addicted to Afrin, according to their package description.

I've also had some good time to think about the big questions in life:

Why EXACTLY do your teeth hurt when you get sick?

Who on earth would voluntarily go on one of these crazy Judge shows? I watched one about people getting sick from pasta sauce purchased from PTA. PASTA SAUCE. FOR REAL! They aren't even real judges...

How much do people on reality tv shows actually make? This led to a long train of google searches...

Why does a house make random noises throughout the day? Does everyone get this scared over it? Do you think that someone is secretly hiding out in my house for days on end to wait till I am weak enough to not scream when they try to kidnap my dog.

If I sleep all day, then why am I still so tired?

Does Cal realize that I'm sick, does he think I got fired, does he notice anything is different?

So in case you wanted to nominate anyone for most productive human being, I wanted you to know that it should probably be me. What do you do to keep you occupied while sick?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

DIY Ottoman

Like I have said before and will swear up and down one thousand more times, we love our house. We love spending every weekend working on some new project, we love the balancing act of owning your first house and maintaining a semblance of sanity, and we love that everything we do (paint, tile, flooring, lighting) we CAN choose because it is our house. But this house will not be a forever home. We live in a great part of town walking distance to bars, restaurants, the metro, and a ton of other things to do. We love the running path that ends up in a park smack dab in the center of downtown and the fact that there are multiple dog parks within a stones throw to our abode, but we won't live here forever.
Man after looking at this pic on my computer, I wish I had fluffed those pillows...

If there is ever more than Cal, Andrew, and I, our cute home's walls will start closing in on us. If the extra bedroom and loft will no longer serve as storage and our dining room table can't be half covered in books or gym clothes, then we will probably be looking for a space that is closer to schools than bars and has more grocery stores than dog parks. Theoretically, of course. We understand that and see it way far in the distance, but know that our choices now need to reflect that knowledge. Just like we didn't get the marble I lusted over in our kitchen, we had to pick some 'temporary' furniture pieces too. We love them, but they probably won't live with us forever. Just like some of our home renovation projects aren't as big of an investment as they could be if we planned on living in our house forever, some of our furniture choices are more temporary than forever pieces. One of these choices is our DIY ottoman.

Oh hey there shoe in the background...

Our living room has a cozy fireplace that juts into the center of the room- cute, but doesn't give us a huge space for a coffee table (or anything for that matter). To fit a couch, 2 armchairs, and a funky side table in the space, we needed a small coffee table or ottoman. We looked around and found some smaller pieces, but they just looked dinky and weren't our taste. Then I saw a DIY on Pinterest that combines my love of cheapness, ikea, and crafting and just had to do it. 

First step purchase these bad boys at IKEA

I pretty much followed the steps outlined in these two Pinterest Hack, but added our own flair to it. Instead of doing a heavy velvet or a funky dalmatian print (gorgeous in it's own right), I went with a fun Nate Berkus (similar) print on clearance (told you I love being cheap) that brings in an element of light and fun. 

The photo quality here is yellow-y, but in person it is a crisp white with navy and mint accents.

The first step we took was assembling the tables. Although the table comes in a two pack (coffee table and side table), we only wanted the coffee table. After both were assembled (and the side table earmarked for a Craigslist sale), I got rowdy and pulled out the spray paint. Andrew vetoed the gold spray that I adored (compromising stinks), but we ended up with a great textured semi- metallic brown color. What I like about this color is that it ties in the neutrals in the room together. We have black slate floors, gray walls, and a brown light fixture, so my goal was to bring in some funk and make it look like all these things should be in the same room together.

Ya know, the pups just being helpful...

After spray painting, the team (thanks sister and Andrew) started working on the upholstered side of the DIY hack. Being a cheapskate, I didn't splurge on the expensive foam and landed a discounted large piece of 2.5 inch foam that needed to be cut and hot glued together to form the right shape. After that was done (and some margarita was ingested) we wrapped the foam with a batting to make it feel like it was all one piece. We wanted it to be stiff enough to serve food off of, but have a fabric look, so the batting really helped to soften the edges.

Now our challenge was to connect the foam to the actual table. The way the IKEA table is supposed to work is the glass pane on top and the 'wood' piece as the second shelf. For the table to work, we just switched the wood and glass, but didn't have all our necessary supplies- aka a staple gun. Instead of waiting till we could beg, borrow, or steal one (remember the margaritas) we took out the glue gun and glued the foam to the table. Then to make it feel a bit more secure we took a pack of finishing nails and nailed the batting to the underside of the table. Probably not necessary. I would definitely recommend a staple gun to make this whole thing easier.

Photographic evidence of  our one Pinterest fail as part of project...

We spent way too long debating about whether we should tuft the ottoman like here, but after drilling some holes and testing a couple buttons it just didn't look right with the business of the fabric. The drilling (above) was fine, but threading the needle through the board, foam, batting, and fabric was just too much! So we skipped this step, which was great because it is a great serving surface now.

The last step was the most important and visually tricky one. My team (after margaritas) were no longer as engaged in this project (meaning they probably wanted to kill me), but I was way over enthused (after margaritas) about the vital aesthetic importance of laying the fabric just right. We measured and remeasured to get the pattern centered (both lengthwise and widthwise) and pulled out the finishing nails (face palm- GET A STAPLE GUN) to secure it to the table. I tried as hard as possible to make the folded corners tight and tidy. 

Overall, I think that it looks pretty good and love the discounted price. If we ever want to reupholster it, the whole thing will take half an afternoon and makes a major difference in the room. I love that it adds a fun pop of color and that it is functional as both seating and a table.

Do you have any favorite IKEA hacks? Or even better yet, total IKEA fails?


Monday, September 14, 2015

Monday Runday- Long Runs

I wrote a whole, funny (well, I thought so) piece in honor of my Long Run over the weekend, but my computer kindly deleted it. So after pushing undo, undo, undo on frantic repeat, I thought I would just start anew with run on sentences and a mix match of misspelled words. 

The Long Run. 

Winter is Coming - Brace Yourself The Long Run Is Coming

You hate it, you love it, you gotta do 'em. If you're training for an endurance race, you know exactly what I'm talking about. For me they are written in permanent ink on my calendar. My palms sweat, my blood runs cold, and I get oddly thirsty in anticipation of this weekly nemesis that humbles me, takes up a lot of time, and leaves me weak. At one point or another, you just have to embrace it. 

I say this all in jest because I actually love the long run. I love the fight of it all. From mile 1, 3, 9, 12, 19 or whatever number where that wall hits and you don't think you can put one leg in front of another any longer, you fight. You fight to keep the sweat out of your eyes, to not get bored by the music, and all the internal demons that are calling your name.

Believe me, the long run and I know about the demons. I must credit these hours on hours long solo sessions with some of my biggest self help/healing/hating/motivating/cleansing decisions. I've fought with myself over what the right thing to do in situation X would be or how to approach person Y and be more compassionate/strong/independent/kind/fill-in-the-blank. I've stood up for what I felt was right and really gotten down in the dumps with myself when on these pounding-the-pavement internal therapy sessions, I realize that it was me who did the wrong thing.

I love that the long run weakens you. At the beginning you start feeling strong, but mile by mile the distance breaks you. For me it is always my right toes that swell first. They grow and swell and people would probably guess I was a troll if you only saw my feet. Soon after my left calf (endlessly weak) starts to tighten and my shoulders feel heavy. I feel my stance slump and look non-stop for water fountains or a curb to stretch out my calves on. Sweat starts thickening and my ponytail is no longer dry, but the tip grazes my shoulder blades dripping with sweat. It's gross. I'm gross. My feet are huge, my calf is painful, and my hair is atrocious. All I want in life is to quit. My mind is yelling at me to do so, but those miles won't run themselves.

Those miles will not run themselves. That is what I say when things get tough. They will still be there if I turn around and head home. No one else is going to run them for me. So you dig deep and that is when it all comes together. Your mind starts being kinder to itself and your muscles can do hard things. And finally it is done. Your fridge has an adult beverage, your pants can be pajamas, and you can freely talk about how bad*ss you feel for finishing.


Until next week. 

I had a long run like this on Saturday. It wasn't too far and it certainly wasn't too fast, but for the last hour it was so hard. I hated how my body was feeling, but mentally I felt strong. The miles ticked away and by the end of it I had convinced myself that I could finish this run, the next run, the upcoming half, and the upcoming full. Endorphins are a terrifying, powerful thing. 

Even after a dozen plus training seasons, my favorite part of the long run is how good you feel when it is done. I don't like skipping the social scene the night before and the too early wake up call in the AM, but I love knowing I just conquered X miles before most people woke up for the day. That is how I felt on Saturday.

Until my sore legs saw my these sad puppy eyes on Sunday and I knew that a quick stretch out your legs/ tire the pup out jog after church would make everyone feel better. Cal did great (sans a poo break in the middle of the road) and my muscles thanked me for going slow on the day after. Sorry long run, Sunday's run was way better. The family that runs together can stay on the couch and eat queso together, right?

Did you get any good/horrible workouts in this weekend? Only 6 weeks till my next half...

Thursday, September 10, 2015

What I Would Tell My Best Friend...

In less than 3 months my very best friend is going to make a long, but memorable walk down the aisle. She will be glowing and nervous and anxious and a million other emotions- especially happy. I literally can't even type this without getting tears in my eyes. I'm so excited for her and the blessings that marriage will bring to her life and that of her partner. Part of me is screaming 'hurry up, marriage is so much fun' and another part of me just wants to yell 'enjoy all the moments- everything happens so fast'. Mostly, however, I am just excited for her. But I still don't know what to say. I want to say willingly making this commitment is such an incredible moment for your lives and things WILL be different after it. But that seems like real heavy. So I decided here are the 5 things (some fun, some serious) that she needs to know. 

All images courtesy of the amazing Jackie Ray Photography.

1) Don't listen to anyone else's advice. 

I mean nothing more than I mean this. People will tell you ridiculous things. They will try to explain why everything costs so much (a conspiracy is the only answer I will accept), what you will want from this day in pictures 30 years from now, and exactly how many appetizers you NEED per person (FYI- I will eat twice this number), but none of that matters. You are one of the most fiercely independent people I know. Do exactly what you want and make others feel comfortable with this decision. Listen to input, but it is you and your partner's decision. There is one amendment, unless I say something then do it with no regard for my no-advice-advice.

2) It is more than a party. 

This will probably be the best party that you ever have and I completely respect your ability to make it an extraordinary event, but it is so much more than a party. Spend the time that you would spend worrying about table linens (the thought makes my blood run cold) on prepping for what you want your marriage to look like and how you plan to live out that commitment everyday. Talk through those rough spots that you don't see eye-to-eye on and take care of business first. Pray about the massive (and, yes, at times scary {wedding/ marriage planning should definitely include wine}) commitment that you are making. You will have a great time, it will be a great party, and I personally can't wait for the open bar, but even better than all those things is that you will be married to an amazing man at the end of the day.

3) Don't let the sticks get in your way. 

On our wedding day you followed me traipsing through fields with my big tulle-y dress collecting hay/bugs/and a comically long stick. That is great! When we ordered these bridesmaids dresses on Etsy from China and they were hilariously mismatched. It was a great thing to laugh at. When it was hours before the shindig and we had to re-do the whole seating chart, it was great (and a lil stressful). Andrew forgot some of his things and my mom walked about wearing a BBQ bib because she forgot she was wearing it. I found both of these things funny and great (when I learned about them after the fact). I hope that you have the most perfectly imperfect wedding day possible. I hope that you laugh at these things wholeheartedly and that they day is full of joy. Joy of your marriage. Joy of new families. Joy of home-brewed beer. And that everyone sees how joyful you are. I hope that you choose joy on this day and as many of the rest of 'em as you can muster. 

4) Know that marriage will ruin* your life. 

It will ruin your life when you REALLY want to watch the ND football game, but he has claimed the TV. It will ruin your life when you REALLY want Chinese food for dinner, but you know that you should stay on budget and eat your leftovers.  It will ruin you when you are typing a blog and he really wants to change the outlet covers so the power and internet turn off (true life this stinks). It will ruin your life when you see your own flaws from your partner's vantage point. It will ruin your life when over the smallest thing/decision/comment you see how innately selfish we all are and how selfless your partner is being. It will ruin your life when you have to make a decision for your new family that is far different than what you would have done before. BUT IT IS SO MUCH MORE. Marriage is the best gift that I get to give to Andrew and am lucky enough to receive from him everyday. It brings together two people with endless imperfections and creates something so much better than that. It will ruin your old self and make you into something better than before. Respect and accept that change. 

*Ruin in a good way... I promise 

5) Take some time with just you and your new shiny husband. 

Do this on your wedding day and on every other day ever. You two are now the most dynamic duo around and putting that relationship first will allow the rest of life's priorities to fall in place around it. Your wedding is one expensive day, but your marriage is for a lifetime. Take some time to enjoy this moment and thousands that will come after it. Getting caught up in the to-dos and endless bridal bonanza is easy, but not nearly as much fun as spending some good old sweatpant-wearing-netflix-watching-buzzfeed-reading time.

Writing this was probably selfishly more for me than anything. I vividly remember you walking into my parents house a few days before our wedding and having a momentary freak out while crying into you (bags still in hand). Ooops! I remember the first time I heard you talking about this gentleman and being cautiously optimistic. I remember getting to watch the two of you together and the thousand memories before. I cant wait to remember  the thousand memories left to come! L- I'm so excited for you. I can't wait till that warm, sunny, beautiful (wishful thinking, right?!?) December day and everything after that.

And just one more wedding picture because I love it...

Soon enough we can drink wine and poke fun at the fools that decided to marry us together! Now enough of this sappy stuff, I need to go work out to fit into that dress...