“No Soliciting”

I seriously need to get a “no soliciting” sign for my house.  Although, to be honest, I doubt it’ll help.  Yesterday, about half a dozen Jehovah’s Witnesses FANNED OUT on my street distributing flyers and knocking on everyone’s door.  It looked like the scene in Lord of the Rings where the wraiths go after Frodo at the top of the watchtower.  I have never seen anything like it.  And as someone who has slight paranoia about most things, it kind of terrified me and I hid and let the dogs bark.

Not only that, but as I left my house, a man cornered me as I was getting into my truck to try and collect names for something that I couldn’t quite understand what for (a lot of fast double talking and ambiguous language is a red flag for me).  So yeah, unless I had a “no soliciting” sign on my truck, I was screwed there too.  And in the case of this last guy, it was highly suspicious and more than likely a scam of some sort.  Luckily, somehow my hair got frazzled before I went outside, and I had angry, crazy eyes on, so he took my “no” to heart.

Okay, enough of that.  How’s the backyard coming?

We’re taking a break for a couple days because the weather is yucky.  We’ve been moving dirt from one side of the yard to the other, to level out an area for the garden beds.  The dirt is from a former playground area from a previous owner.  It was covered with mulch, which we managed to dispose of last year.  Now, we’re dealing with the dirt.  We’re almost halfway through, so we will definitely get everything done in that area by the end of this weekend.

The former playground.
The former playground.

For those that might be worried about weeds or grass that grew in this area and us reusing it, don’t worry.  The dirt will be covered so it’ll all die, it won’t be used as the actual garden dirt.

The future garden site.  Penny is checking for quality control.
The future garden site. Penny is checking for quality control.

It looks like an even bigger mess right now, but after all this crappy work is done, it’ll change a lot faster and more dramatically.  Basically, after the tilling project.  Tilling will feel like a breeze after spending a month moving dirt and rock all over the place.

Until next time.

Advertisements

One Man’s Garbage…

Oh hi, allergy season.

I’m sitting here writing with a box of tissues next to me and blowing my nose outside.  We’ve been leaving the windows open lately because it’s been so nice, but now my allergies are going insane, and my current medication is doing nothing for me, except preventing me from taking something else (damn you, 24 hour Allegra).

Spring is weird.  It’s just the sight, sound, and smell of nature getting it on.  And I’m allergic to all of its sexy wonder.

But on the plus side, today I’ll be mixing in some new soil into my planters, because my Russian sage and echinacea are already sprouting.  Thankfully these are hardy plants, because we have snow coming in a couple of days.

Our projects are coming along nicely, and one of my personal ones is dealing with certain “garbage” left at our house by the previous owner.  The back yard was truly a mess.  There were 3 car batteries, a dangerous shed, car tires, rusty garden hangers and a scary looking dog kennel…

While we’ve managed to sell off or properly dispose of most of it, there are a few things we decided to keep and use.  The rusty hangers were one of them.

IMG_4955I mean, we’re going to have a lot of gardens, so why not keep these hangers?  I bought some red spray paint and used a sandpaper block to clean off the rust and any chipped paint that was left (although, there was hardly any paint left, mostly rust).  I wiped them clean and then started spraying.

IMG_4957I did two coats each side, and it took about a day to dry.  I picked the red color because of my desperate and constant hope that it’ll draw back the hummingbirds.

IMG_5003No more rusty hangers!

I’m glad I didn’t throw these away, because initially, I tried to get them into the big dumpster we rented last year, but we ended up keeping them.

Now, to turn the tires into something usable and pretty:

IMG_4866

Although Penny seems fine with their current dumpster quality.

Until next time.

Yard Work Begins

FullSizeRender

Finally a new post!  The past two weeks have been insane for me.  It’s all been a blur.  One week leading up to my trip to Arizona, and then a week there.  I’m drained, to say the least, and have never been so happy to do yard work.  I love road trips, but two days where we spend 16 hours each in the car can get rough.  I’m all off on my eating schedule, and my sleeping schedule.

So for the next several weeks, I’m going to share my progress with the back yard (and a little with the front).  It’s pretty exciting, really.  We are doing a complete overhaul.  Last night, Zach dug up one of the sprinkler lines (which was not something he planned on doing) because it ran through where we want to put the raised beds.  But while he dug it up, we discovered they didn’t bury it deep enough (it was buried around 2″ deep, when it needs to be 6″).  In fact, there was sprinkler line running in a lot of random places in the yard, with seemingly no reason.  There aren’t a lot of heads, but damn, they zig-zagged the hose everywhere in the yard.  What I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall when they had that conversation on the best way to install a sprinkler system.

So, basically, after the yard is tilled, we will lay down a new system.  One that is up to code, works, and will actually carry water to the grass…

One of my “demands” after we bought the house, was I wanted every area in the yard to be groomed and safe.  I know this might seem like a weird demand, but I grew up in a “wilder” setting, as in the outdoor space blended into the woods.  There were always spots in the yard that were scary, and probably contained a trillion black widow spiders.  Even parts of the yard we don’t see/use often, I wanted to look nice, and I wanted to be able to access them without issues (like spiders, of course, but also overgrowth and weeds).  When we bought the house, the outdoor space hadn’t been taken care of in years.  It’s totally wild.  That’s why we’re doing work now, so it’s all done before summer comes and we have no chance of winning the fight against overgrowth.

The first thing we had to do was move the pea gravel out of what used to be a dog run area.  We are putting a raised bed there, and the area needed to be cleared and leveled.

IMG_4860

 

We also have an insane weed problem there.  They survive so well in that gravel.  I pulled weeds there every week last year and they just got worse.  Nothing worked.  I used both natural and chemical weed killer, to no avail.  When the gravel was moved though, they all died.

Since there was a billion pounds of gravel, we decided to reuse most of it for one side of the house.  On the east side, we have our A/C unit, and that area was used as a dog kennel and they let it get out of control (there used to be a crazy bush back there, but it was removed last year.

The ground also did not fall away from the house, which might cause water damage down the line.  Zach dug at the ground to even it out and make sure it set against the house correctly.

Then came the cardboard.

IMG_4856

Why cardboard?  There were so many weeds on the ground.  Too many to pull, and too many for me to be comfortable slamming it with chemicals.  The cardboard is to kill the weeds, and act as a buffer for the weed block so it didn’t get punctured.

IMG_4858

And finally!

IMG_4876

It was a ton of gravel.  We spent a lot of the time cleaning it up, taking out weeds and worms, but it paid off!  Now it’s cleaned up, and when we eventually go back there to clean the A/C we won’t have to bring a machete to bush wack.

It’s such a tiny space, but at least that part is done.  We reused the dog run gate and have this area gated off, mainly because I worry about the dogs so close to the A/C unit.  And they can’t be trusted.  We will most likely do the same thing to the west side of the house.

Speaking of which!  Next week, I’ll blog about finishing the west side of the house, repurposing bigger rock from other parts of the yard (this house doesn’t lack in the rock department), and I’ll also talk about actually building the raised bed.  It’ll be a picture heavy blog for awhile.

This week, I’ll continue to show our progress with prep work.

Until next time.

Muddy Pups: Coming Soon

Spring is almost here!  In Colorado, spring is a bit confusing.  We usually get some of our biggest snow storms, but, by mid to late spring, it’s amazing.  Actually, the moments in between the snow are pretty amazing as well.  It’s in the 60’s right now, yet we still have a ton of snow in the front of our house.

With the exception of some rain in the forecast, the weather is going to stay nice for a while.  Enough to where we can actually start doing some preparation work in the yard.  Which reminds me, either tomorrow or Monday, most likely Monday, I’ll do my first post on the yard renovation.  I’m trying my best to keep a good prep schedule in conjunction with planning our trip to Arizona, though it’s proving to be difficult and stressful.  However, I think when you throw the stress of funeral planning into the mix, it’s naturally stressful.

Shortly after we get back from AZ, we will till up the yard and rake it clean (if it’s not snowing a ton).  It needs to sit for a few weeks before adding sod, so it’ll work out perfectly for putting it in mid-May.  And by perfectly, I mean the dogs will get to mud wrestle for a month and my house will never be clean ever again.  So the goal is to get all the rock dealt with in the back, which will mostly be a job I’ll do during the week.  It’s not hard work, just tedious.  Our yard is huge, and for some reason the people decided to just throw crappy rock absolutely everywhere in their half-assed landscaping.  We will be repurposing the rock though, so it won’t go to waste.  We just have to get it to the right places.

This weekend we’re purchasing supplies to make the garden beds, which I think MIGHT get built before we leave.  At least part way.  It’s kind of funny, because while I’m excited about the actual gardening, I am not that thrilled about building the beds, but Zach is.  So he’s taking over the planning and reigns of that project.  He’s actually done an amazing job at finding suppliers that are top quality, and most of the time, considerably more affordable than going to Lowes or Home Depot.  I have limited vision when it comes to that sort of stuff, and that’s why I’d be a terrible buyer at pretty much any company.

A lot of work ahead.  I’ll do my best to document the good and the bad.  The genius ideas, and the terrible mistakes.  And obviously, the most affordable way to do it.

Until next time.

 

 

30 Day Shred: Level Three

My final review of this DVD!  Yay!

It’s late because I took a week hiatus from working out because I threw out my back shoveling and then I just forgot to write the review.  In fact, I only did about a half a week of this level, but oh well, I still got the gist.

This level is actually a lot more difficult than the other two, at least for me.  I felt like the first two were comparable, and then BAM!  It got hard.  It was still fun, it kicked my butt, however, if you have knee problems (like me), make sure to wear knee braces, because I didn’t, and ouch, my knees.

This level is definitely more in line with the HIIT mentality.  It’s  a lot more impact, even on the low impact end.  I would highly recommend it, but again, stretch way more than what she offers up.  It’s just not enough.  I understand that it’s a DVD workout designed to be compact, but please invest in the extra stretching time.  You’ll be happier in the long run, and will end up more flexible.  In fact, might I recommend doing one of the many awesome stretch routines for doing the splits?  They are awesome.

So now that I’m done with 30 Day Shred, I’m on to something that’s a totally different pace.  I’m slowing it down and focusing on strength and toning, since I’ll be doing a ton of house and yard work.  I don’t want to tire myself out in the morning when I will have hours of physical work during the day.

Until next time.

 

Mattress Shopping and IKEA Mysticism

It’s been a busy couple weeks for me.  We’ve been preparing for a lot of stuff.  With so much prep going on, I thought I’d lose steam right about now, but in fact, I’m gaining momentum.

Yesterday, we went to IKEA to get a mattress for our guest room.  We had a memory foam mattress, but it was too thin, only 3 inches.  When I sat on the edge of the bed, the frame hurt my butt, so I decided we needed a different mattress on it.  Good thing too, because a smaller box-spring mattress paired with the memory foam on top, actually made a perfect combo.

I know that there are tons of jokes and whatnot about IKEA ruining relationships.  But, we’ve shopped, bought, and put together several pieces of furniture from IKEA, and never had a problem.  However, we do know what we want before we go there, but also don’t have any unreasonable fantasies about leaving the store with ONLY those pre-decided things.  We know to grab a bag when we walk in.  Maybe even a cart.

I think they pump experimental chemicals in the store though, because we ended up leaving with kitchen plans.  We’ve been talking about re-doing our kitchen for a while (it’s kind of a mess, it hasn’t been updated since the 90s).  We were going to refurbish the existing kitchen, but we decided we might as well just gut the whole thing, and make it the tiniest gourmet kitchen ever.  So yeah, that was unexpected, and definitely doesn’t fit into a yellow bag (to be fair, we started considering a complete remodel when we decided to re-tile the floors with stone, and since a previous owner laminated around the cabinets, they’d have to come out anyway).

One thing at a time.  That’ll be next year.  This year, it’s all about the back yard.

We are strongly considering building our patio this year as well as putting in the gardens and sod, even though we originally planned on doing it next summer.  But – the crappy sunroom has a leak in the roof, and I worry constantly about the glass panels falling through the frames because they did such a piss-poor job of putting the room together.  There is evidence of previous glass panels that have broken through.  They didn’t even bother to clean out the old glass.  We’re going to patch the roof this weekend, but everything else makes me nervous.  Oh god, so nervous.  Besides, we already have buyers for the glass panels, I’d like to get them out before they break.

We’re doing all this house planning on top of a trip to Arizona for my sister’s dad’s memorial.  I’m using it as an excuse to do “spring cleaning” and going through closets and storage and getting rid of things we don’t want or use.  When we get back, I’ll be starting a bathroom project to convert our shower/tub upstairs to accommodate dog baths as well as bubble baths (for me).  Again, a previous owner did a shit job at installing a TUB (seriously, it’s not that hard).  He forgot to include things in the tub that make it stop up, and the fix is not cheap or easy, so I’m going to try and disengage the existing stopper (because it constantly catches and is annoying) and put in old fashioned baskets and a removable stopper.  It’ll do until we eventually renovate our bathroom and put in new everything.

Zach asked me last night why I hadn’t named our house yet (I name everything).  I think when the garden is done and we lay down [literal] roots, I’ll probably name it.  This little old house has so much personality, and it is good to us, even if it needs a little fixin’.

Until next time.

Mourning an Icon (Goodbye, Spock)

Mr-Spock-mr-spock-10874060-1036-730

I remember the exact moment I decided to watch Star Trek.  It actually wasn’t that long ago.  I asked Zach, “Do you think I’ll like Star Trek?  Should I watch it?”

“Sure,”  he replies.  “The Next Generation is really good.”

“No, I mean the original.  I have to start from the beginning!”

Because I’m really obsessive like that.  Sure, I would have been perfectly fine if I had started with TNG (it’s literally the most amazing thing ever).  But I needed to start from the original.

Oh was the pilot horrendous!  It was long and boring, but I knew it wasn’t the cast we all know and love, so I pushed through it.

Except Spock.  I loved Spock, even in that awful pilot.  It only got better and better and I was a Spock addict.  There was a humanity about him that no other character on the show had.  Even though he was the one “without emotion” he had the most depth, and the one who could empathize the best.  After all, he was someone who could mind meld with others, something so ridiculously intimate that the idea of emotional expression was put into question.

I have my criticisms of the films, but Spock stayed true to character.  It’s not surprising, because Nimoy himself took the character seriously, and developed a connection and understanding of Spock that went above and beyond what is required of an actor.

And then the new films!  The only reason I watched the new films was because of his cameos.  I figured, if it’s good enough for Spock, it’s good enough for me.

I know I’m talking a lot about Spock, but that’s the character I know him best as, and love the most.  Nimoy was passionate and kind.  When he talked art, he talked substance.  Spock wasn’t a curse to him, it was something he embraced and made his own.  The character of Spock will never belong to the franchise, it’ll always be his.  There aren’t a lot of fictional characters that are so deeply connected to a real person.

When I was trying to think about others that reminded me of such a character, I immediately thought of Bob Ross, Jim Henson, and Julia Child.  All of these people made a difference, and all of these people are ingrained in our brains and culture, for all the good reasons.  They are timeless.  I’m glad too, because sometimes I lose so much faith in what we have on this Earth, and then The Joy of Painting comes on, or I see a great Spock quote, and it gives me a lot of hope.  Happy trees, muppets, good food, and going boldly are my religion.

Even though Leonard Nimoy is no longer with us, he’ll live long and prosper in our lives and memories.

Until next time, LLAP.

Taco Cravings

So, apparently, everyone is just getting a lot of snow all over the country.  And for some reason, our house is in this little pocket where we’ve been getting more snow than other parts of our neighborhood…

Because of the cold and snow, and living in Colorado, I feel like a dried up leaf.  I had to bust out our humidifier yesterday just so I didn’t have to chug water the entire day.  I can’t get anything done if I have to pee every 5 minutes.  And I feel a little trapped in our house.  I miss the sunlight, friends, and like, hotdogs and stuff.

But I’ve been eating a lot of tacos.

Like, a lot of tacos.  I’ve basically been turning everything into a taco.  Because tacos are easy, you can make them however you want, and when you’re snowed in and don’t have a lot in your house and can’t go outside, you can make tacos.

So here’s my latest taco recipe that ended up being an experiment gone well.  Sorry I don’t have pictures, but it’s an easy recipe that you can truly make your own.  And this recipe makes a lot – great for a lot of people, or for leftovers.

Black Bean and Yam Browns Egg Tacos (that’s a mouth full… bum dum dum)

Ingredients:
1 medium yam, shredded
1  15oz can of black beans (drained and rinsed thoroughly)
2 eggs
Sriracha (to taste)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Olive oil
Creamy dressing of your choice (I used Cosmo’s spicy ranch dressing)
Soft corn tortillas (or whatever you like for tacos)

Directions:
In a preheated skillet, cook and brown the shredded yam in about a 2 TBSP of olive oil and a pinch of salt.  In another skillet, scramble the eggs until they are cooked, add the black beans and sriracha and combine.  When the yams are done, add them to the egg/bean mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Plate the tacos, and add the dressing on top.  Easy peasy.

It’s almost to the point I’m going to need a separate page of taco recipes on this blog.  Because I’m considering make some breakfast tacos for lunch…

Until next time.

30 Day Shred: Level 2

On Sunday, a friend came over to our house to hang out and do nerdy things with my husband, things that I’m not nerdy for.  They insisted I hang out with them, but I was bored, and started messing around with a puzzle we had bought and never put together, a really long time ago.  However, when I started separating the pieces, this is what came to mind:

264476d2588c8a3a8c6db005251434f2c63c7eaf5402752918719efcb70924bf

 

I realized I had never done a puzzle before.  For some reason, I just assumed I had.  Hasn’t everyone done a puzzle before?  Not me.  I was so flustered and said I needed a nap, and now Zach thinks I have narcolepsy.

The snow and cold makes me want to nap all the time.  I don’t really feel like being active when it’s in the teens when I wake up.  But, I [eventually] forced myself to get my workout done this morning, and finishing level two of the DVD.

However, along the way, I worked on music and singing for about an hour leading up to actually turning the DVD on and starting.  I felt pretty inspired this morning, and found motivation to work a lot harder on music than I have been doing lately.  Sorry, but no workout is worth it for me to stop inspiration!  I was still singing when I started exercising.  Actually, I think because I was so happy, my workout went much better.

So, my thoughts on level two.

It’s definitely a little harder than level one, but not a ton.  I enjoyed it more than the first one, my favorite move, for some reason, being the walkout push-up.  My criticisms: when Jillian Michaels says you should be gargling your heart or feeling like you’re going to die, it makes me laugh.  I will never want either of those feelings.  I like being tired and sweaty and even winded, but not death feelings.  I’d recommend not pushing it that far, if you’re really struggling with the exercises.  Work up to it.  Also, the stretching and cool down at the end is definitely not enough at this point.  I got bad leg cramps after the first day, and spasms at night.  I’d recommend doing more stretching (positions) than she does, and holding each position for at least 30 seconds.  Since I’ve been doing the stretching, I haven’t had as much pain or problems.  I’ve been having some back pains lately, but I think I strained it doing something else, not the workouts, and I still haven’t had problems with exercise with my back (actually, sitting and laying down I feel it – perhaps I slept weird?).

I feel like I’m getting more energy, and I’m definitely stronger than just a couple of weeks ago.  Also, cravings of bad food aren’t as strong, even though I just finished eating a cookie.

So that’s all for now!

I’ll have a new recipe up for tomorrow!

Until next time.

30 Day Shred: Level One

51QlqI3yaOL

Since I’ve started a new fitness regimen, I’ve decided to kind of journal about it/review products and other fitness things I’m experiencing along the way.  It has a two-fold effect (hopefully): first, hopefully it’ll help other people that may be reading my posts, and second, (and most importantly) it’ll make me accountable.

Now, I’m not a hardcore fitness person, I’ll just put that right out there.  I don’t like doing a whole lot of things in extreme, and I’m not looking to get a thigh gap or rock-hard abs or anything like that.  I’m seriously just doing it for fun and to be healthy.  There is a weird thing in the fitness world that likes to focus a lot on looks and shame others if they never attain the “perfect” body.  They say things like, “well, you’re clearly eating badly” or “you’re not working out correctly” if they perceive someone as not having the body they think one with a high fitness level should have.

So, I’m definitely not that person.  I eat well and walk a lot for my health.  Everything else I do on top of that, is seriously just for fun, and to see what my body can do.  If I’m not having fun, I ditch it and do something else.  Life is too short to waste time on stupid workouts that you hate, just to achieve a certain body.

I shall step down from my podium now.  There.  Ahh, it’s so nice down here!

I decided to start off with Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred because right now, I’m on a DVD kick.  I’ve done this DVD before, a bunch of times, but always with mixed results.  The first time I tried it, I was still recovering from my back injury, and this made it a lot worse.  Now that everything is much better, I also am more aware of my limits.

I’m also not going to do this DVD for 30 days.  Mainly, because I’m not trying to lose 20 lbs in 30 days, and also because I want to move on to new things every week to mix it up.  I’m sure I’ll revisit this DVD though in the future, especially as I’m able to do more, it’d be interesting to have a second go at this and be able to do the advanced versions on most things.

It’s actually a fairly nice workout.  It’s great when you want to get in cardio and strength and you have a limited amount of time.  She calls it circuit training, and it is, and kind of seems like a light version of the HIIT workouts (high intensity interval training).  I just finished level one, and I’m definitely seeing a difference.  It was a little hard in the beginning, trying to start something new (and I haven’t worked out in months).  I struggled the first couple of times, and I needed to go to bed by 8:30pm every night, but I got through it.  I just had to remind myself that it won’t always be like this, that starting is the hardest part.  By the weekend, I had a lot more energy, my appetite was down, I was able to stay up later, and I could do the workout without stopping.

I still have some back issues, and I have knee issues, so I tend to stay around the lower impact versions of the exercises.  I still feel the burn, but I don’t blow out my knees or back (I shall have none of that!).  For abs, I pushed much harder, and did the “advanced” version as best as I could.

Even with today, I’m pretty spunky.  I woke up fine, and right after my workout, I had a snack and went right to house chores without much grumbling, because I wasn’t completely exhausted.  To be honest, throwing this into my schedule has made me more productive.

All in all, I recommend this particular DVD.  I’m starting level two this week, and also adding in something else, which I’ll blog about next week.

Until next time.