Sunday, February 28, 2010


Daniel left today and I have been an emotional wreck. Who knew that this experience would be so trying? Worse is that Sophie is really taking it hard. It is amazing how much she seems to know. All day long, she just laid on the our over-sized leather chair, staring forlornly out the living room window.

When Daniel packed up the car to leave, she wanted to go with him. She refused to come inside and I had to drag her in which made me feel terrible.

Daniel and I had a late lunch together at The Original Pancake House and then said a tearful goodbye in the parking lot. Afterward I ran some errands, then came home and took Sophie on a long run. We both needed it. Not sure how we will get through the coming week.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Last Days Together...

Today was our last big push to get the house finished. There are still some minor things to wrap up (mostly touching up paint and lots of cleaning). Since Daniel leaves tomorrow, this means the brunt of this work is now on my shoulders.

Hopefully I will have time to photograph the house and get it posted on Craigslist so we can gauge interest this week. I will also get the responsibility of talking to potential realtors. That should be interesting.

In the past month, Daniel and I have had almost no time to devote to being together. We have been doing what needs to be done, but now that we are at the point where he is leaving, I am feeling very anxious about everything.

I know that we are not the first couple in the history of the world to have to be separated for a job. And we won't be the last. But somehow, that doesn't make it any easier.

We spent the entire day working on house stuff. And now we are both exhausted and sore. Daniel is getting cleaned up and then we will grab a bite to eat. There is laundry to be done before he leaves and we still need to determine what he needs to take with him since he will be driving back and forth every weekend. In general I don't think that we feel very prepared for this ordeal. 

Friday, February 26, 2010

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 9

The book jacket of A Meaningful Life by L.J. Davis declares this novel to be a black comedy, I would call it a tragedy {is that the same thing?}.

It has comic elements, but it is tragic that the main character, Lowell Lake, is incredibly lost. In the first half of the book, Lowell realizes that he leads a meaningless life. In the second half, he attempts to live more meaningfully by buying and attempting to restore an old Brownstone in Brooklyn.

His relationship with his wife quickly deteriorates, he has a bizarre {surprising encounter that ends badly} and nothing meaningful actually happens in the ENTIRE book.

This is such a depressing story, I didn't find any quotes worth including... there are some comic descriptions, but mostly this is a sad story of a sad life.
One More Book 
This one is not actually going to count toward my 52 Books for the year since I actually read it about 7 years ago. However, after having a discussion with a friend, I did want to include An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison in this week's post. This book gives an amazing glimpse into the mind of a woman living with Bipolar Disorder. If you are interested in BD or know someone who lives with it, I would highly recommend that you read this autobiography.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Does this mean I'm a Slacker?

I find it interesting (enlightening maybe) that my work work is not something I go out of my way to put extra hours in to. Granted I work late and come in early when I have to meet deadlines, but that is about it. In this regard, I suppose I am a bit of a slacker. See 52 Books in 52 Weeks Doing Nothing post.

On the other hand, if I am working on a home renovation project, or trying out a new recipe or I get a freelance project, I find myself working like crazy to get this type of work accomplished. In this sense, I am far from being a slacker.

Case in point: 
Monday I worked all day at my day job (as a graphic designer for a product development firm). Then came home, made a pot of gumbo and proceeded to paint my newly dry-walled laundry room until 10 pm.

Yesterday I came home from work and received a message from a friend regarding a freelance project that she needed help with asap. I proceeded to work until 2 am to get that project done. This is definitely not a slacker attitude... A negative side effect of staying up until 2 am is that I was in no shape to get up and run with my dog this morning. We both suffered from that :(

Where do you find yourself slacking and what things drive you to work hard?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Project 52: Date Nights - Table Saw

This date is a bit of a stretch, but it is what our life is right now...

The entire weekend was spent working on house projects. Saturday we took an intermission to run out for lunch (we also hauled some leftover drywall to the landfill and made stops at Home Depot and Lowe's).

Lunch was great - barbecue from the Q Shack. Before heading to Lowe's to buy caulk, we made a stop at Home Depot to pick up some drywall mud. Daniel came out of HD and we headed over to Lowe's and proceeded to have the following conversation: 
Daniel: "So there's a really nice table saw at HD marked down from $500 to $300." 
Me: "Uh-huh. Don't we already have a table saw?" 
Him: "Yeah, but this is a really good deal. There is only one left and I can sell the stand that comes with it on Craigslist for $100 - so really it would only cost us $200."
Me: "I see. Do you need it?"
Him: "Define need." 
Me: "Is it necessary to your life?"
Him: "Ummm..."
I think for a little while... 
Me: "Since it is such a good deal and there is only one left and its a Saturday, let's go pick it up and we can think about it later."
Daniel was shocked that I agreed so easily.
Me: "Worst-case scenario, you sell the whole thing on Craigslist and make a $200 profit."
Him: "I love you."
We went back  to Home Depot to pick up the table saw. They had to load it on our trailer with a fork lift because it weighed 500 lbs. At home our friend, Benjy, helped Daniel unload it - they had to use the engine hoist to get it off of the trailer.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A few of our favorite things {Home Edition}

After {almost} 5 years of home renovation, there are some things we have learned make our projects much simpler. 

The first is ear plugs. When you are working with power tools {indoors} it is important to protect your ears. In the early days of having a double-compound miter saw set up in our living room and various power tools {skill saw, drills, nail guns, etc} laying around {and in constant use}, ear protection was a priority {it still is}.

We have several pairs of these Harbor Freight specials {ear muffs} lying around. They are my faves... for some reason, ear plugs don't work well in my ears {they always feel like they are falling out}.

Quick story: In the first year of our renovation, my brother spent a summer with us. One Saturday morning, Daniel and I had been up early working on a project in the living room. We both had on ear muffs which required us to raise our voices {yell} in order to hear each other.

Later that day, my brother pulled me aside and asked if everything was ok. I was confused about his question. He clarified by saying, "You guys have been yelling at each other all morning and I thought you were having a fight!" He had been in his bedroom with the door closed and had no idea we were talking {yelling} about our project... oops.

Daniel prefers these 3M Combat Arms ear plugs, found at Northern Tools. The Green end offers constant protection against noise while the yellow end lets wearer hear clearly with instant protection against sudden loud noises.

Another product we have found use is DAP Painter's Putty {we call it dope}. This stuff is AMAZING for filling holes in trim. It has really made our lives easier.


We started out using Elmer's Wood Filler - which is a total pain. It is hard to squeeze out of the tube and you have to go back and sand it. We are so thankful our friend, Benjy, introduced to dope.

Friday, February 19, 2010

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 8

Doing Nothing by Tom Lutz is essentially the history of the slacker. From Benjamin Franklin and Thoreau to communes, beatniks, the punk movement and George W. Bush – I found this history to be quite interesting. While I expected to see references to Office Space and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, I was surprised by the amount of references to authors, music and movies that I had not considered before. It turns out that our culture is heavily defined by slackers.

There is definitely a dichotomy of working too much vs. working too little and lots of misunderstandings in between. I think it boils down to contentment. We are unhappy when we work too much and we get bored when we feel like we have nothing to do...

This book also points out that often those who would be labeled slackers are actually quite busy, while those who are seen as workaholics may be good at pretending to look busy.

Narrowing down to just 5 quotes proved difficult as there were a lot of good ones...
"(The movie) Office Space is more than a comedy. It is an anthem for the down-trodden cube-borgs everywhere, who have had the life and soul stomped out of them by an uncaring corporate entity." –

We all feel overworked, underpaid and under appreciated, but we all occasionally fear we are imposters, freeloaders, bums.

Doing nothing, purposely meaningless work, unsullied play, meaningless movement – in a culture obsessed with purpose, pragmatism and productivity, to do nothing is not a neutral act. To conspicuously do nothing is to assert and insist upon a counterculture identity. (Referring to the skate boarding culture of the 1970s).

"The twentysomethings were a marketer's worst nightmare. They could very well be the demographic from hell." – Marketing News (Referring to Generation X)

"GenXers' willingness to walk away from an unsatisfactory employment relationship luanched the staffing crisis that plagues employers today and has allowed them to become the most entrepreneurial generation in history." - Bruce Tulgar

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Project 52: Date Nights - Pancakes

To be honest, we have continued to be crazy busy with last-minute projects on our house {and the snow weekend didn't help either}. Trying to get your house ready to sell is very time consuming. On top of that, there is the underlying stress that Daniel will be leaving in 1.5 weeks and I will be on my own until our house sells.

On the one hand, I want to be spending every possible minute together. On the other hand, if the house isn't ready to sell before he leaves, we will be separated for an indefinite period of time. Nice little catch 22 for us.

So due to ongoing exhaustion, DATING continues to be a challenge. At this moment, I am grateful just to go to bed at the same time. If we have time to snuggle in front of the TV, even better.

As I stated in a previous post, we are not really celebrators of Valentine's Day, but we did take time on Sunday to run to The Original Pancake House to enjoy breakfast and spend {non-house related} time together. Having a conversation that did not revolve around the laundry list of projects we have left to finish was nice.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I Love You Moore than Valentine's Day

Daniel and I have never been into Valentine's day - not even when we were in the dating phase of life. Mostly we feel that {like most holidays} V-day is way too commercialized.

We believe that we can {and should} express our love daily and not save it up for a special day. We don't exchange cards or gifts {we don't do this for birthdays or Christmas either}. We feel that those things are more meaningful if they come at unexpected times during the year.

Today we "celebrated" by: Going to church. Daniel heading up to Troutman, NC to pick up a muffler for our Subaru while I went grocery shopping and cleaned the house. Running to The Original Pancake House for lunch {breakfast}. Spending the rest of the day working on the house. Watching the Olympics. The usual weekend stuff.

The most interesting {unconventional} gift we ever did agree to buy was rappelling gear. This was expensive (rope, harnesses, gloves, etc.), but provided us with a long-lasting hobby that we have enjoyed and shared with many friends and family members over the years. It is hard to believe that we met about 9 years ago and have been married for 7+.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 7

This week I read the curious incident of the dog in the night-time by Mark Haddon. The story is a work of fiction told from the point-of-view of a very intelligent, autistic child who is trying to solve the murder of a neighbor dog and in turn discovers his parents separation. 

It is interesting because he has a hard time understanding emotions, yet he has to reconcile some of the most difficult emotions that come with divorce - he just doesn't comprehend what he is feeling. While I enjoyed the book, it made me a bit dizzy to read. But I think that was the point.

Quotes from the book:
I like dogs. You always know what a dog is thinking. It has four moods. Happy, sad, cross and concentrating. Also, dogs are faithful and they do not tell lies because they cannot talk.

Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them.

People say that you always have to tell the truth. But they do not mean this because you are not allowed to tell people that they are old and you are not allowed to tell people they smell funny... and you are not allowed to say "I don't like you" unless that person has been horrible to you.

It is best if you know a good thing is going to happen... And it is bad if you know a bad thing is going to happen... but I think it's worst if you don't know whether it is a good thing or a bad thing which is going to happen.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I Hate Running

That's what I thought anyways... I think the problem is that I have always tried to start a running program in the summer. I live in the south, so I'm not sure what made me EVER think that was a good idea.

Running inspiration has recently come in the following forms:
  1. The blog, Eat.Blog.Run.
  2. My friend Sarah, over at It's News to Me, who just started {and is blogging about} the Couch to 5K program she recently started. 
  3. Another friend, Michelle of The Organ Family, who has been running and blogging over the past year about the boot camp program and the races she has been participating in. 
  4. And then there is my brother, Mark, who ran his first Disney Marathon last year. He went back this year with friends (he was not planning to run) and he ended up *sneaking in* and running it again (without training). I don't recommend this (the sneaking in AND the not training part), but he LOVES marathons and has been trying to persuade everyone he knows to run one with him.
So... back to why I hate running. I have put off running for a long time. I thought I hated it. But I have an upcoming wedding to be a bridesmaid in and I want to make sure that dress fits. Also, we are tight on money since my husband was laid off last March. Gym memberships were among the first things to be cut from our budget and I need a cheap way to get in shape.

I started my first run, bright and early, Monday morning. I wasn't looking forward to running in the cold. But I found it to be refreshing. Much better than running in the sweltering summer sun that I hated so much.

Today is my third day and I am still going strong. I am up to 11 minutes. And my running partner, my dog Sophie, knows we run now and she won't let me skip a morning. So I guess I don't hate running after all. Let's hope I can keep it up.

Oversized Chalkboards

I love, love, love this seating area {as seen on the 6th Street Design School blog}. I could totally see it as a breakfast nook. The chalkboard with quote is a nice touch. I use my own oversized chalkboard for posting my weekly menu.
photo (source)

 My Weekly Menu Chalkboard

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Project 52: Date Nights - RUSHED LIFE

Daniel and I have always made an effort to make time for regular date nights. Sometimes we do better than others. We don't have kids, but we are definitely busy and have to make the effort to make sure we make time for ourselves. 

Recently we have been feeling overwhelmed with trying to get our house finished and on the market. Like last night we spent 2 hours painting closet doors and trim. Just because we were "together" didn't mean that we were engaging in each other. So we sat down and talked about making more time to spend together doing non-house related things.

Today I was really excited to come across the blog Simply Modern Mom and her Project 52: Date Nights. Rules are basically - no repeat dates in 52 weeks, keep it cheap and take turns making the plans. We are late to the game, but here goes...

This is sad, but this is what our last two weeks of "Date Night" have looked like:

Rush home. Rush out to Chick-fil-a for a meal we eat in t-minus 15 minutes. If we have any time to spare, we split an ice-dream cone. Rush to the dollar movie theater. Get our seats as the movie starts. Enjoy almost two hours of vegging out in front of the big screen. Head to Walmart to get the week's groceries. Head home.

This is what our life has come to, but we are still trying to make time for our weekly dates, so that is good. As soon as we get the house finished and sold and we get moved to Chattanooga, it will be easier(?) to have date nights that aren't so rushed with grocery shopping thrown in for good measure.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Super Bowl Commercials

What was up with all of the half naked guy commercials? It was like driving by a car wreck that you couldn't help but watch.

There were a couple of spots I felt like were knock offs of YouTube videos... Dove For Men was awfully close to the mom song. And Bud Light auto tuning, while hysterical, seemed a lot like these guys auto tuning at work.

My favorites included the Doritos house rules and Tim's locker spots. I also enjoyed the VW Punch Buggy spot because it made me feel nostalgic, and I thought the Google spot was sweet. I liked the FloTV spots - but couldn't they come up with a better name... it's as bad as the iPad.

I was not impressed with the GoDaddy spots. And the Denny's grand slam spots, while funny at first, got kind of annoying.

What were your faves and least favorites?  
See all of the commercials here.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Mt. Kilimanjaro

On February 3, my best friend from high school summitted Mt. Kilimanjaro (elevation 19,341 feet). I am ridiculously proud {jealous} of her and can't wait to hear more and see pictures from her experience.

Her accomplishment got me to thinking about the things I have aspired to do in my own lifetime. I have to admit that I haven't marked too many things off of my personal life list. Which is, admittedly, a little sad to think about. But on the other hand I have done some things I had never dreamed of... get married, renovate a house, learning how to scuba dive and rock climb.

One of the big things on my list is to climb to the highest point in all 50 states. This little dream came about the first year I did Wilderness Trek (age 12) and we summitted Mt. Elbert - the highest point in Colorado (elevation 14,433 feet).

Since conceiving of this dream, I have bagged 4 additional highest peaks: Mt. Magazine (AR), Clingman's Done (TN), Mt. Mitchell (NC) and Mt. Rogers (VA). I wish I could say that I had bagged more highest points in the {almost} 18 years since having this idea (on a side note... how has that much time passed?). I have climbed plenty of other mountains, just not the highest points in each state.

Maybe I will try to be more diligent in pursuing this dream. I have other things on my list to work on, including visiting a laundry list of countries, bike touring in South East Asia and competing in a Muddy Buddy.

What kind of things have you always wanted to do? What's holding you back? We aren't getting any younger...

Cheree above the clouds on South Sister Mountain, Oregon.

We Have a Date

We actually found out earlier this week that Daniel has received all of his security clearances. We are so very thankful for this news. They gave him the option to start on February 15 or March 1. We are opting to go with the latter. We are hoping to get the house on the market this coming week and Lord-willing, we will have an offer before he has to leave.

I can't tell you how grateful I am that he is able to start later. I was not (am not) ready for him to leave me here alone for an indefinite period of time. I know we will get through whatever we need to, but we are hoping that the separation will not have to last long.

Friday, February 05, 2010

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 6

My husband and I have the following joke: If we are really busy and have a lot of projects to work on {on our house}, one of us asks, "Whatcha gonna do today?" And the other will reply, "Eat bon bons.

This is part of the reason I picked out the book Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik. This book was purely a guilty pleasure {especially after reading five non-fiction books in a row}. I definitely enjoyed the glimpse into this fictional book club that spans several decades. The book covers a lot of life circumstances and shows the depth of true friendship. These women are by no means perfect. Most of their solutions to life are to laugh {or throw a snow ball}. At times, I find myself longing for such a close-knit group of friends... I don't think that I have truly had that since my college days.

I digress. Here are some of my favorite passages from this book.
There are outlaws in all of us - ready to break rules that need to be broken.

I felt a deep, Thanksgiving-worthy sense of gratitude for my big, solid husband whose relatives might be crazy but who knew when his wife needed a steadying hand on her knee.

If she had learned one thing, it was not to borrow trouble. Trouble would find her if it wanted to. There was no sense in worrying about the whens and ifs.
Dealing with a spouse's death is like being in a boxing match and knowing you were going to get battered.
This quote pretty much sums up the book:
Wherever there's a book to read, I'll be there...
Wherever there's a friend to feed, I'll be there...
Wherever they're potluck lovers to feed, we'll be there...
Wherever there's a woman with a mean husband from whom she needs to be freed, we'll be there...
Wherever there's a baby who needs to have its diaper changed because it peed, we'll be there...
Wherever anyone has questions about their creed, we'll be there...
Wherever anyone needs to spill their guts without judgment or feels like quoting Margaret Mead, Angry Housewives will be there...

Thursday, February 04, 2010

I Love Your Moore than Public Speaking

My friend, Scott Schwertly {founder of Ethos3 Communications}, recently launched a new blog called Stuff Presenters Like. He is doing a series called Public Speaking Horror Stories. Here is my contribution...

Two years ago, when I was teaching a Digital Photography class at a local community college, I found myself stretched too thin while juggling a full-time design job, part-time teaching gig and simultaneously remodeling my house.

Read the rest of my story over at Stuff Presenters Like

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Lesson Learned

When we started our home renovation {4.5 years ago}, we never dreamed it would take us this long to finish. We were hopeful that we would be finished by the 3 year mark. Sadly this was not the case.

Now we are being forced to wrap up all of the projects so that we can get our house on the market and get ourselves moved to Chattanooga.

The {most recent} dilemma we have faced is that our flooring is being discontinued. This would be of no consequence to us except for the fact that we did not have the foresight to buy all of our transition strips or stair treads. We have enough transition strips for two doorway thresholds, but we are having trouble getting a hold of transition strips for the others.

Two weeks ago, Daniel tried to purchase the transitions locally, but the store was having trouble getting what we needed {and they were not being up front about it, so we canceled the order}. 

Last week, we tried placing a special order at Lowes Home Improvement - which they evidently failed to place. This would put us in the position of having to wait an additional 2 weeks {from now} to get what we need. This is not really an option as we are attempting to put the house on the market in the next week {or two}. 

And then there was Before Lowes told us they could order what we needed, Amazon had what we needed. TO SAVE TIME, we went with Lowes and now, to our chagrin, Amazon is sold out... do you feel our pain yet?

So, last night, we made our {daily} trip to Lowes and found some Caribbean Cherry that is a decent match to the Brazilian Cherry that is already installed in our house. It's disappointing that we can't find the exact product, but we don't have time to wait for transitions to be shipped to us {and with our luck, there would be more mess ups with orders}.

As to our stair treads, we opted to stain the original pine. It works and it's cheaper. Not perfect but it adds to the character of our home.

Lesson learned: Buy ALL of your flooring materials when you start. Otherwise four years may go by and you may find yourself pulling your hair out while trying to get what you need.

Brazilian Cherry (top) vs. Caribbean Cherry (bottom)

Family Hike at Fiery Gizzard

On Saturday we had originally planned to go on a group hike on the Fiery Gizzard Trail , but it was cancelled at the last minutes. So...