Tuesday, July 28, 2009

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right…

When I get ready to start a project, I usually do a lot of research on it. I look through magazines and on the web. The best thing about starting a project, is anticipating how it will turn out. I have always enjoyed opening a magazine to find the before and after pictures of a project. I have seen hundreds of before and after pictures and I love it. Doesn’t matter if it’s kitchen, bath, paint or even beauty makeovers. I love to see the changes that can be made.

From all that research, I have learned it’s always a good idea to take before and after pictures of your own projects. That way you can see, side by side, the transformation. I have bored entertained my family and friends over the years with my numerous before and after pictures. And now that we’re getting to know one another, I’ll share some with you.

 

Here are three of my best projects:

 

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          Before                                               After

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          Before                                                               After

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          Before                                                      After

 

 

Here are a few projects that I didn’t actually start, but had a hand in making perfect.

 

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          Before                                                        After

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                                                                   Before

 

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                                                                        After

 

So there you have some really great before and after projects. Oh, me? Well, fine…here you go

Before…

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 That is not a mullet, it’s a shag, thankyouverymuch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After….

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I know, I crack me up, too. Now get back to work.

Monday, July 27, 2009

…on the seventh day they rested.

I have never before had a project done for me. CGMan and I used to do stuff like this ourselves. With each new project, though, it took us a little longer and the bitching whining was a little louder. Okay, most of the whining came from me, but that’s only because this is hard work! and that’s when I would try to pull the “I’m a girl” card. It didn’t always work though, because the project that was being whined about, was usually my idea.

The stars lined up and we were able to have our backyard landscaped. It’s something I’ve been dreaming of since we moved in. We have a lovely yard and I always knew it could be so much better.

I was right.

I honestly don’t know how God did it, making the whole world in one week. This is only one small backyard with a crew of young men and it took six days. They did an awesome job. Check it out:

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As you can see, the grass is just a suggestion. It’s very shady in our backyard because we have a lot of trees. I don’t know where the Bermuda went, but now it’s mostly just dirt.

Then Saul’s guys took off all the old grass and made way for some xeriscape beds. This is popular here because the plants are draught resistant and low maintenance. I like low maintenance. This is also when the rain gods decided it was the best time for a strong summer storm, turning all of this into a mud hole.

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The newly mudded earth was perfect for laying the new grass, so maybe the gods weren’t laughing at me so much as trying to help me out. They must have thrown in the Montezuma’s revenge for grins and giggles.

And on the sixth day, they were done.

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I am truly amazed. I always knew our backyard would be beautiful, but I am still pleasantly surprised at how beautiful. The girls love their new shade happy grass. They have been out several times to run around and roll in it. I’m happy for them.

On the seventh day Saul may have rested, but Dawn had to mop the whole downstairs. *sigh*

Friday, July 24, 2009

And the fun continues…

I’ve never been much into astrology, but I do like to read my horoscope every now and again. And all I can say is, ever since Mercury hid in my 12th house (whatever the hell that means) I have been having some crappy luck! But the crappy part? is hidden inside the good stuff, just like Mercury.

Crappy part: rain storm, mud hole, dog with Montezuma’s revenge

Good stuff: soil now perfect for laying beautiful new sod, the fact that someone else is laying the beautiful new sod

Crappy part: major leak in sprinkler system (God knows how long!)

Good stuff: the landscaper is also a sprinkler guy, so has been working on it all day

Crappy part: The landscaper has been working on it all day. Of course, that means having to turn the water off

Good stuff: I’m off to do a little shopping, so no worries about the water. It’s only for half an hour, right?

Crappy part: It’s a bigger job than originally thought, this little leak. Water off for the two hours I’m gone. Dog leaves Montezuma’s revenge in her “house”. While cleaning, accidently get ‘revenge’ on my finger (EEEEWWW!) totally not realizing the water is still off!!

Good stuff: You know, there really is nothing good about getting dog poop on your finger when there is no water to get it off. Thank goodness I drink a lot of bottled water and keep it on the counter. Thank you Jenny Craig! Did you know it takes at least 3 pumps of antibacterial foam soap and two 20-ounce bottles of water to get a tiny spot of dog poop off your finger?

Oh wait, I did think of something good in all that…

I have a full bottle of vodka and one lime.

Hello, Happy Hour.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

It just keeps getting better…

It’s been a long, hot summer here in Texas. And I do mean hot. There were a couple of days when it was hotter here than in the sands of the Middle East. Now, that’s pretty dang hot.

We have haven’t had much rain, either. And now I know why. The rain gods were just waiting for the day when the landscapers had pulled up all the remaining grass in the backyard before they let loose with a deluge of pent up rain.

That’s right, folks, I now have the most beautiful mud hole in the backyard with a lovely limestone border running through it. It is an unholy mess out there. This is why we don’t do projects like this by ourselves anymore.

It was a great summer storm with lots of really loud thunder and lightening. And then *blink* out went the lights, followed by a shingle shaking boom of thunder. Luckily, I’m a candle junkie, so I whipped up a little ambiance.

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So, now we have a raging storm, no lights, and a big mud hole, right? Well, friends, it gets better. You see, the rain gods are not finished with me yet. They have decided it would be quite funny to give the fat dog a little Montezuma’s revenge. Oh no! you say. Oh yes.

Every two hours we were wading through the mud hole to get to the patch of grass on the side of the house. And back again to the patio door where I would have to wipe all the mud off her feet before letting her back inside. Great fun. I hope the gods had a good chuckle over that one.

I’m hoping they are done with me now. I don’t know how much better this can  get.

Edited: I wonder whose great idea it was to tile the whole downstairs? That would be me. It’s coming in handy now, isn’t it?!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Good intentions do not get the floor clean…

It was my intent today to be good and clean house, which usually entails mopping the whole downstairs. The reason I have to mop the whole downstairs is because somebody thought it would be a great idea to tile it all. No carpet. And by somebody, I mean me. What was I thinking?? I was probably thinking that mopping would be a great chore for some kid who lives here. I think that may have been what caused the mass exodus.

But I am not going to mop the floor today. Here are the two reasons why I am not going to mop today:

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You’ve met these two, right?

I’ll be honest, since I’m not going to mop the floor, chances are I’m not going to do anything else of a housewifely nature today. I may just have to putter. And when I say putter, I mean make some cookies or snacks or something to give away to everyone else. Scottish woman People like when I putter.

Mopping never made me any friends anyway.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Random thoughts…

Some days I just don’t have much to write about. When I started this blog, I had been a “lurker” for a couple of years. I started out just reading one or two blogs. Then I started reading the comments of other bloggers and started visiting their sites. Now I have so many blogs I like to read that I have a hard time getting any work done around here. Anyway, the point of all that is to say they made it look easy!

Every day I would log on to read a new story or happening, or even a funny joke or video clip. I thought to myself, “Self, how hard can it be? Let’s start a blog.” So I did. But let me tell you, it’s not as easy as you would think.

Oh sure, I have lots of stories to tell, but do you really want to hear about the landscapers and how Zoe has to bark at them, every single time she goes out, even though they are the same guys who were there twenty minutes ago when she went out? Does anyone want to know about Skater’s two lip rings and how he was going to tell his Grandma that he was in a skateboarding accident and the rings are the only thing keeping his lip on? Would anyone care that I’m already thinking of dastardly things to pester the kids on our road trip next month, because CGMan will be driving and I will be able to?

Actually, I know the answer to those questions is yes, or at the very least- sure, why not? And I thank you for that. But that doesn’t make it easier to sit down in the mornings and think of things to write about.

I often wonder if other bloggers have this same problem: I’m walking through the store or driving along and a good story comes to mind. So good that it’s just flowing in my head and I can’t wait to get home and see how it turns out. Only to totally forget what the story was, once I get home. Because from the time I thought of it, until the time I got home, I’ve had to make decisions, and really? not even very important decisions. Like whether to have lettuce salad or spinach salad with dinner. Do the dogs really need a toy that costs $13? What color paint for the last bedroom and could I get away with repainting our bedroom before CGMan gets home? What kind of light bulbs go in the kitchen, the big flat ones or the little flat ones? When was the last time the tires were rotated? With enough things like that going through my head, it’s a wonder I get a blog out at all!

Consider this my disclaimer, I am not a writer in the sense of true literary writing. While I truly love to read (omg, I love to read!) it’s just not in me to pull a story from out of the blue. I’m fairly certain it won’t be me who writes the next literary masterpiece, and I am so okay with that. I don’t think I’d be good with fame, anyway. No, I’m more of the “come sit over here and let me tell you what  happened to Sharon me today!” kind of writer. And some days, nothing interesting happened.

I just hate that.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Road tripping with the offspring…

This past weekend, the Girl, the Skater and I drove to Dallas to be with Grandma & Grandpa to celebrate her cancer-free 60th birthday. Believe me, if we’re within driving distance of a party, we’re there. I may have mentioned a time or two hundred that I do love road trips. It really doesn’t matter how near or far, as long as we get to go for a ride in the car.

And a road trip with the kids, well, that’s just plain fun.

the Girl (reading a magazine in the front seat):   Quit reading over my shoulder!

the Skater (crammed into the space between the front seats):   I’m not reading.  I’m looking at the pictures.

Girl: Well quit it!

Skater: It’s just the pictures!

Girl: It’s my magazine!

Skater: The pictures are right there where I can see them!

Girl: Too bad.  Want me to call you a wanh-mbulance?

Twenty minutes later, Skater is sitting in the backseat, eating a brownie pilfered from the leftovers from the party. The Girl gets a whiff of Ghirardelli chocolate brownie with the Symphony bar in the middle.

Girl:  Did you get me one?!

Skater: Nope.

Girl: That’s rude.

Skater: Here, let me get you a wanh-mburger and some french cries.

The “kids”? Are 23 and 19 years old.

Some things never change.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The birthday boy…

 

Steve and Karlene

See the hottie in the striped pants? That’s my husband. You girls just step back!

Today is his birthday!

Let’s all sing to him, shall we?

Happy Birthday to You!

Happy Birthday to You!

Happy Birthday dear CGMan!!

Happy Birthday to YOU!!

(Sharon, I couldn’t hear you)

I would make you feel sorry for him, since he’s all the way in Abu Dhabi on his birthday and I’m here in Austin. But I’m not going to, because the Custer Home for Wayward Boys is full this weekend he has several of his buddies there with him and they are spending the whole day together, smoking cigars, drinking scotch and telling lies. It’s a “boys only” kind of party this year.

They’ll have to share stories of strippers past because there just aren’t any in Abu Dhabi. Aw, darn! I’m sure they’ll have a good time anyway.

Happy Birthday CGMan!

Enjoy the last 365 days of being in your 40s.

I love you!

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Who wants some virgin?….

…OLIVE OIL!! Geesh, you guys!

Earlier this week, I offered up one can of amazing, not for sale in any store, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, hand carried from Greece, by me, to one lucky reader. Well, today was the day of the big drawing. There was so much anticipation in the room, if either dog had a tail, I would have been whipped to death!

We put together a fool proof method of choosing a a lucky reader. We put their names on a piece of paper and wadded them up. Then, the names of all our fabulous contestants were placed in a bowl. 

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I was going to have my lovely assistants pose in front of the bowl, just for future magazine purposes, but one assistant got a little carried away.

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She smiled real quick and then stuck her head in and made a decision! I like an assistant that is a go-getter!

 

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Nothing like having to reach into the mouth of your lovely assistant. bleh!

 

 

 

Phoebe, will you show us the winner, please?

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It’s Terri!    Yay!   {polite applause from the assistants}

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to bring it to you personally. I wish I could, but I do believe if I leave my assistants behind one more time, they may mutiny.

Congratulations and thank you all for playing our game. This has been great fun and I do believe we’ll be doing this again some time!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Living alone…

…has it’s advantages.

When the phone rings? It’s for me.

I have a 5 disc DVD, which equals all Friends, all the time.

The last piece of pizza (with no mushrooms) has my name all over it.

I can set the thermostat to premenopausal arctic a little cooler without having to ask if anyone else is comfortable.

If I don’t like the score of the football game, I can turn it off and go paint my nails.

Every Saturday night, is girls night. Well, me and Zoe and Phoebe…hey! We’re all girls!!

Sometimes I get so caught up in all the good things about living alone, that I forget one of the biggest disadvantages:

Having no one to call for help…

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…and having no one to to blame for this!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

Let’s talk virgin…

 

…olive oil, that is! And make that Extra-Virgin!

On our traumatic exciting trip to Greece, we had the pleasure of having an olive farmer come talk to us at the hotel. We learned quite a lot about the history and making of olive oil. And if he hadn’t been drunk off his butt, we might have learned even more.

I was able to pick up some more tidbits from Wikipedia:

Greece devotes 60% of its cultivated land to olive growing. It is the world's top producer of black olives and has more varieties of olives than any other country. Greece holds third place in world olive production with more than 132 million trees, which produce approximately 350,000 tons of olive oil annually, of which 82% is extra-virgin.

Olive oil is used medicinally for peptic ulcers, lowering cholesterol and even blood pressure. Most of the religions use olive oil in their rites. Olive oil is used in cosmetics and can be used as a shaving oil. It is even used by some to reduce ear wax buildup.

Olive oil has more uses than just consuming, it also works as a natural and safe lubricant. For example, lubricating the machinery that is used within the kitchen (grinders, blenders, cookware, etc.)

Homer called it "liquid gold." In ancient Greece, athletes ritually rubbed it all over their bodies. Olive oil has been more than mere food to the peoples of the Mediterranean: it has been medicinal, magical, an endless source of fascination and wonder and the fountain of great wealth and power.

Me? I like to drizzle it over tomatoes and cucumbers.

Our drunken farmer brought along some olive oil from his farm. The farmers routinely set aside some of their own pure olive oil to sell locally. This is the best tasting olive oil! Because it hasn’t been mixed with other olive oils for export, it is just so pure and good.

I wish I could say I bought each and every one of you a can of this amazing olive oil, I didn’t. But I would have, if I had unlimited weight allowance in my suitcase. So blame the airlines. I did the next best thing…I bought a can for me and an extra one for one of you.

That’s right, dear readers…I’m having my very first Give-Away!

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Just tell me what you would do with this wonderful olive oil that I hand carried all the way from Greece. Feel free to share a favorite recipe, if you like. I will have a random drawing on Thursday and announce the winner on Friday.

I can’t wait to hear all the ways and uses for this olive oil.

Good luck!!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Austin is weird…

For those of you who don’t know, Austin’s claim to fame is that it is weird. “Keep Austin Weird” is on most bumpers and many more T-shirts.

I’m here to tell you…it is.

I hadn’t been home 24 hours when I saw it. The weird.

I’m standing inside the post office, waiting for one of the beloved, can never be fired, government workers to answer the bell for the second time, so I can pick up 5 weeks worth of junk mail. Because really? does anything else come in the mail these day? Bills? Paid online. Appointment reminders? Sent by email. Greeting cards? Also online. So the only thing in my snail mail box is junk mail… and Netflix!

So I’m standing there, looking out the many windows at the neighborhood beside. I see a dog running along, very happy to be out for his morning walk. You can always tell when dogs are happy. So anyway, the first thing I notice is that he is not on a leash. He’s being very good and staying on the grass and peeing on trees. The second thing I notice is the young man walking behind him, with coffee cup in hand, because, you know, it is first thing in the morning.  The third thing I notice is that the young man appears to be in his underwear.

I was all “Surely that dude is not walking his dog in his underwear.” Then I thought, well maybe the dog had to go really bad, so the guy just stepped outside for a moment so the dog could go potty. Um, no. They were out for a stroll!! They walked along the side of the post office, and then they crossed the street and walked right in front of the windows of the post office. That is when I noticed he was definitely wearing underwear (because it’s the same kind Skater wears). They appeared to be in no hurry, making their way around the grounds of the post office and back across the street.

Now, I’m no expert on the law or anything, so I’m not sure if it’s against the law to walk your dog in your underwear. But I do know it’s against the law in Austin to walk your dog without a leash.

And we all know, it is the norm in Austin to be weird. Otherwise, they don’t let you live here. 

 

P.S. Stayed tuned, on Monday I’ll have my very first ever…give away!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Did you know…?

… that if an 18 month old takes an inexplicable, irrational, passionate dislike to you that is akin to boogeyman terrors, he will scream and cry uncontrollably and constantly scramble to get as far away as possible from you for the better part of 16 hours?

…that his 10 month old sister will start screaming and crying because he’s making such a ruckus, even though she kinda likes you?

…that the chances of this happening to you on a flight from Abu Dhabi to Houston is pretty likely…if you fly coach?

…that Heiferyung is now hoarding her frequent flyer miles like a squirrel making ready for winter so she can upgrade to Business Class?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Coming home...


Phoebe! Zoe! Mommy is on her way home!!

Honoring my nation…

Saturday was the 4th of July.  I may have mentioned that having a flag in the yard is a very big deal for me. We went to the hardware store ,where I had seen the flags, to get one of the poles you stick in the ground. I decided I needed a flagpole in our little yard piece of America. 

 IMG_1226As I was looking for a flag to go on my new flagpole, CGMan was reading the specs on this new flagpole. He said to me, “Honey, I don’t think they’re going to let you have this in the backyard.” I was all “WHA?!” He saw the tears starting to well up with the thought that I might not have a flag for the 4th of July. He said, “Hang on, let me make a quick phone call.” He did. And he was right. Apparently, one cannot have a 20 foot flagpole in their yard little piece of America, because it is against the rules of the complex. Personally, I think it would look great if everybody had a 20 foot flagpole in their little backyard with the flags of their country (and our host country, too)! But I don’t get to make the rules here. Hey, I’m not complaining, at least I get to drive and wear my own clothes. 

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Being the good sport that I am, I compromised. I still have a “flagpole” in my yard, it’s just not 20 feet tall.

 

Last night, we dressed up to go to a 4th of July celebration hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce. (The US Embassy holds their celebration in Feb when it is cooler- they must have an outdoor affair) It was something special for us in more ways than one. One being, that we both stepped outside the norm and went to a big function where we did not know a single soul. We realized if we were going to live here, we were going to have to meet some people. This seemed like a good opportunity. And it was.

We were told it was open seating, so after cocktails, where we met a few interesting guys and a fellow Austinite, we ambled into the ballroom to take our seats for dinner. We wandered and wondered where should sit. We finally just sat at a table next to the wall and hoped for the best. And it was.

Turns out, it was one of the Embassy tables. The man who sat next to CGMan is in the Air Force and is in the liason office, which is the office CGMan was in charge of when we were in Trinidad. Anyway, once we realized our mistake, we tried to leave but he said to stay right there, he would vouch for us. Cool!

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It was great! The Marines from the Embassy were the color guard and everyone sang the Anthem- out loud! The speeches were short and all who spoke thanked our service members, which is more than I can say for another Ambassador, in another country, at the beginning of the war, but whatever, water under the bridge, right?

Someone asked me if there would be fireworks, knowing it was inside, I knew there wouldn’t be. Imagine my surprise when the sparklers went off right on the tables!! It was quite a sight! Later in the evening there was an explosion of confetti. They really do know how to throw a party.

Dinner was an International buffet. It was so good. They even had hamburgers and hotdogs!! You gotta love it!

Since CGMan and I had come out of our shell, we decided to work our little corner of the room. I will say, we’re pretty good at that. He met the man he spoke to on the phone, who told us about the event and I talked to the man next to him. And so it went, meeting new people. That’s how we made several new acquaintances! And almost all of them said they would be glad to hang out with CGMan until I can get back here for good. I was glad for that. I also learned there are plenty of women’s groups for me to participate in once I get here full time. I was so worried about that. Now, I’m anxious to get here and get started. (Not that my women’s group back in Austin isn’t the bestest in the whole wide world! Hi girls!!) 

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But my favorite part of the whole evening? 

I got to hug a Marine!

For those of you who don’t understand, let me explain: Marines are brothers. All of them. Being a Marine Mom is very special. And as such, I get to hug any of my Marine’s brothers, all I have to do is ask. They all know about Marine Moms, and how we need the hugs sometimes, so they do so willingly, enthusiastically and with a smile. It’s awesome.

 

I hope you all had a wonderful and safe 4th of July. It’s nice to know that even in other countries, we are still free to celebrate our Nation’s Birthday.