Category Archives: home improvement

Home Front

Can I just start off this post with something I just overheard at my neighbor’s house? In the midst of some argument about something with his mother, my neighbor’s son said, “I’m tired of being broke. I need to grow weed.” 


Anyway, what’s new! Lots. This last weekend we added two more states to the Bean’s map-o-places-I-been. Kansas and Missouri, so nothing super exciting, sorry Kansas and Missouri. We trucked off there last Thursday and stayed the weekend to go to a wedding and spend time with Cameron’s step-sister and her husband. Bean did pretty well all things considered, I mean, nobody loves being in the car for 9 hours, but she handled it better than I expected her to.

Back on the home front, fall is on the way! With the exception of today (with a high of like, 91), the temps are dipping down into the mid-70s and it’s been awesome. Cool at night, warm during the days, damn perfect. I put out my fall decor yesterday, and was super pleased (read: not pleased at all) to find that at some point between last Thanksgiving and yesterday, a mouse or some small rodent has taken up residence inside the tote where I keep the fall and Halloween decorations. I have no idea if it’s still in there or if it…starved to death…and I kind of abandoned the whole thing once I realized it was in there. Aside from the classic sign (droppings), it had clearly burrowed inside a hay bale and those fake spiderwebs and even ate the burlap wrapping off of my wedding bouquet, which I use as a centerpiece on our table every year. Anyway, I guess in the next few days I’ll don gloves and work up some courage and pull the whole thing outside and likely take the entire thing to the trash so I don’t have to go picking through it. Luckily it doesn’t seem that there was anything damaged, though I have yet to pull out the Halloween lights and see if those got chewed. 

What else. Work! Yes, work. Cameron started his new job this morning as a personal banker. Yahoo! I know I mentioned a little while back that he left Starbucks some time ago, and had an interim job for a short while, but when he got interviewed and hired on the spot to work at the bank, it was too good of a position to pass up. I mean, who wouldn’t want to work banker’s hours when you have a family at home? So, it took a little while for them to let him come on board because you have to get background checked and all that, so he’s been home for the better part of three weeks now, and I know he’s glad to be back to work and getting back to a routine. (And I’m happy to have some income coming in soon.) 

Also, I am going back to work too! Also at a bank! The same bank I used to work for in fact, though at a different location. It’s part time, more than likely 3 days a week plus the occasional Saturday morning. I thought it would be good for me to have a couple days a week when I could get out and talk to adults, plus make a little extra income to help cushion us (we really need to get back on track with our savings because unfortunately we got capital-F Fucked on our health insurance for the last two months)…and possibly help support my IKEA addiction. Anyway, I’m pretty excited. Bean will get to spend a few days a week with her Papi, and I know he’s pretty glad for that. I don’t start till the 22nd, but I’m excited. 

I also decided over the weekend it was high time for me to get my body back in shape and be nicer to it. I’m definitely carrying around a considerable amount of weight that I don’t want to be hauling around, and it’s becoming more and more obvious at least to me. I’ve never been really good at sticking to (or figuring out) diets, but we are making an effort to eat more cleanly and really stick to our meal plans instead of eating out or eating badly. I also plan to start going to the complex gym a few days a week (since it’s, you know, free) and get back to doing Pilates when the baby is sleeping. I need to be better about drinking water which I know is a key factor in good health and I am unbelievably bad at it. What are your tricks for keeping in shape and feeling healthy?

So yeah, lots going on here lately. I’ve been spending a lot of time devoting energy toward making our house more of a home, which has meant a few purchases of furniture to help store things and display family items, things like that. I’ve always felt like our house(s) has(have) not really been homey, more just…functional. But I want to enjoy where I live, I want to feel comfortable here, and I want to take pride in showing it off to friends and family. I am making an effort to find better ways to keep things organized because I feel like it is ALWAYS getting cluttered in here, way more than it should for only two and a half people living here. But it’s getting there for sure. 

One of our new setups in the living room…and the Bean trying to pull up on it.

Prepping the Nursery

The last few days I definitely hit a “nesting” mode of sorts and decided it was high time to put the nursery in gear and get it moving. Wednesday, I decided I would paint the wall, or at least the part of it that I could reach without moving the dresser on my own. I was a little distressed to find that my painting shirt had shrunk significantly since the last time I wore it. Go figure.

The color we decided on is a nice sky-blue. If you know me at all you know that I absolutely hate the whole “pink is for girls, blue is for boys” concept. Total crap. So I figured since I was using that “Someday I will save the world” canvas as a color inspiration, I would stick with the gray-blue-yellow theme (my glider is also gray, so it fit). Plus I figured the blue is neutral enough that we shouldn’t have to paint over it when we move and turn this house into a rental.

So, since the painting only took me about an hour and I still had all evening before Cameron came home I decided that I would tackle the crib. I like putting things together. (Just so nobody freaks out, I never lifted anything heavy, I took frequent breaks, had all the windows open, and drank lots of water.)

The cats were not altogether pleased that I was turning their “rec room” into the baby’s room.

The crib, also, took me no time at all to get put together. I am so pleased with the way it looks. And, I did not know this, but it also came with a trundle drawer for underneath. The description on the Babies R Us page didn’t say it or I must have missed it; either way I’m really pleased that it was included because now I have a little extra storage for sheets and bedding and whatnot.

And yes, if you’re wondering, that IS my wedding dress hanging there on the closet door. I have still neglected to get it put in the shipping box I bought to sent it off to be professionally cleaned and sealed. I should probably get on that.

We don’t have the mattress or any bedding for it yet, but we’re thinking tomorrow we will go down the hill and splurge and get those items ourselves.

So, yesterday, I had a few hours before Cameron got home from work and thought I’d tackle the next step in the decorating process, the tree. I bought a decal at Target to hang on the wall since we’ll be leaving this place in a few years and I didn’t want to deal with painting over a lot of stuff. I pulled open the container and first found this.

Seems simple enough. So I flip it over, and….

Right. Instructions on reverse side, huh? Okay. So, in the absence of instructions I figured, well, I can probably figure this out myself. On the sheets with the stickers each removable piece had a letter next to it, which I took to mean it was similar to a color-by-numbers and the letters would match up with the corresponding letter, and that would be that. Not so difficult. Until I got to the middle section of the trunk that said I needed to connect two pieces labeled I and K. Well, there were no pieces on the sheet that said I or K. Right. So I passed by those, finished the rest of the tree, and was left with two major sections labeled L and M. The letters didn’t match but the sizes were correct so I attached them anyway. Obviously someone in quality control doesn’t know their letters. Either way, it took me less than an hour once I figured out what I was doing, and this was the end result.

My nerdy side definitely stepped back and went “Hey look! It’s the white tree of Gondor!” I think it looks great, with the exception that it is a little smaller than the packaging advertised. The box said it would be 53″ tall and 45″ wide, but it ended up being closer to 45″ tall and only 40″ wide. So, as a result, the measurement I did to place it in a good spot on the wall kind of fell flat (or short), and it’s a little lower than I would have liked especially once we put the crib up next to it, but there were so many pieces there is no way I’m going to take it down and try it again. So instead we’re going to buy another one and put it up on the other side of the crib, and then either find some cloud decals or just paint a couple on the wall, which I figure will be easy enough not to screw up (I couldn’t draw my way out of a paper bag) and won’t be too much of a pain to paint over later.

So, still not totally done yet, but the big thing (the crib) is done and I’m glad I don’t have to worry about getting that put together when I am 8 months pregnant and too big to pick up the pieces myself. (As it was it was pretty tough to lean into the crib and get the mattress spring in…) I want the room to be totally done by the time baby gets here because we are not planning to co-sleep and I want her to be sleeping in that crib from night one. I still need to finish the painting where the dresser is right now (didn’t want to move that by myself) so hopefully that will get done this weekend, and we can also get the second tree and clouds and border up. I’m concerned about the room being a little cramped because we have this giant bed in there with nowhere else to put it, so once I get everything pretty much in order I can figure out how to mount some shelves/baskets and get a little more storage going on. I do have the entire closet to work with, so getting that organized will be good for me.  I also need to vacuum the crap out of the carpet. But, the point is the process is started, and it makes me feel much better.

As for me, I am 26 weeks now and starting to feel a little on the big side. I’m at 18 pounds gained and I know that’s still totally normal and I have a ways to go before this is over but it definitely doesn’t make me feel great. I’ve never ever seen the scale that high and it feels scary to me. I feel like I hit that point where my body feels and looks very foreign to me, especially (sorry, TMI alert) my boobs. They look SO WEIRD. Ugh, I hate it. I don’t like not liking my body, because for the most part we had a pretty good relationship pre-pregnancy, my body and I, and it took a really long time to get there. All I can think about sometimes is getting back to the gym once the baby comes and getting back into shape, which I know should not be my focus, but it has been. I guess that’s normal. I’m still not sleeping great, although the night I put the crib together I was so sore I slept like a freaking rock. I notice I sleep better when the cat is locked out of the room, since he likes to step all over me and wakes me up half the night. The last two nights I’ve had some soreness so I took some Tylenol PM and that seemed to help me sleep quite a lot, but I’d rather not make that a habit if I can help it. My ankles started swelling at the end of the day too. Other not-so-pleasant symptoms at this point include heartburn and acne and soreness in my hips, but I guess for the most part I still feel pretty good. Could be worse! I have to keep telling myself that.

Also….we seem to have encountered a crisis and it has to do with the baby’s name. And not her middle name either, though that still hasn’t been picked out. We’ve been discussing it a lot lately and I have a feeling we might end up settling on something other than Celia, though nothing is decided for sure yet. And that’s okay, I mean, nothing is set in stone until it’s on the birth certificate anyway. It’s not like she will know the difference. On the plus side, the new name we’ve fallen for includes all the letters in Celia, so I wouldn’t have to throw away the name letters I already bought, just add a few more and rearrange them. I’m not going to say what it is yet, until we decide for sure. Could end up be nothing. We’re still talking about it. Hint: it’s in a song. Helpful right.

In parting, I thought I’d include a photo that accurately describes the kind of craziness we often have to deal with in Estes Park. I know I complain about the tourists a lot….but this could help explain why.

Yes. Those are two tents set up on the city golf course. Because free camping on the golf course makes total sense.

Happenings at High Elevation

It’s finally spring in Estes Park!

We kicked off the beginning of the season with a visit from Cameron’s dad, Bruce, who came from North Carolina to build us a deck. It looks amazing. I’m so happy with it, thank you thank you thank you Bruce for coming and doing that for us. (For the record, it was a wedding gift!)

From above, before they finished putting the railings and the stairs on.

Brody was a great helper.

We FINALLY have some space outside to store things.

On the book front, I feel like I might finally be making some headway, I hope anyway. I sent off some new material to my editor yesterday which feels more stressful to me than it should. I guess there’s always that terrible fear that she’s going to hate everything I send. Good thing I have Sherlock to help give input on new scenes:

Other happenings:

Mt. Meeker & Longs Peak…still lots of snow up there!

Alpaca at a street fair in Boulder

Oh…and this….

I can’t explain what happened when I took this picture. It was like for the first time I finally felt that “wonder” of being pregnant. Up until now I had kind of been feeling…I hate to use the word indifferent, but that’s what it felt like. The belly felt like fat, I didn’t feel a connection to this thing that is supposedly in there, and I was just beginning to feel frustrated that this pregnancy so far seemed…boring. So maybe it was that I needed a change in perspective rather than just looking down at this bulge from above that just looked like too many donuts to me. But for the first time I finally felt actually, legitimately pregnant. It was an awesome feeling.

Back on the Book Wagon

Well, after a very long and occasionally torturous wait to hear back from my agents in New York (if you are a new reader, I was signed by my agent just a week or two before Hurricane Sandy hit, and I’ve been waiting for them to recover before we could begin work on editing), I’m back on the trail again. I had a call with my editor a week ago and we brainstormed on some character development stuff, and she set me to my first editing task: word cuts.

Ah yes, the words every author dreads: “Your word count is a little too high.” Damn! A lot high, as my case turns out. I was at a starting wordcount of just over 113,000, and my editor asked me to trim it to right around 80,000 so that we would have room to put in character development and plot points later. Needless to say I looked at that goal with a lot of trepidation. Where on earth was I going to find 33,000 words to remove? Isn’t all of it important?

My first step, I decided, was to have a hard copy of the manuscript printed so that I could go through it with a pen and physically see what I was cutting out. I sent it off to Kinkos to have it printed and bound (a cost I was willing to pony up for because I don’t have a printer at the moment), and within a couple hours had this monster of a manuscript in front of me. Luckily, it’s the middle of the slow season here at work, which meant I pretty much had about 6 free hours a day to work on it at my desk, which was enormously helpful.

Starbucks helped a lot too.

I finished the first round of cuts last night and immediately got to work putting it in the computer. My editor wants it formatted a certain way so that she can see what I’ve removed and put in and changed, so once I figured out how to do that, it was off to the races. This part is actually taking less time than I thought it would, although I don’t have the ability to work on that while I’m at work, which is something of a bummer and may end up taking me more time to do just because I’ll have to do it in the evenings after rehearsals.

Cats are distracting too.

I’m supposed to have it all done by Tuesday morning to send off to my editor so that we can talk about it on Wednesday, but I’m hoping with any luck I’ll have it done before then. I have Monday off from work for President’s Day, so if I get desperate I do have almost an entire day to plow my way through. I decided not to look at the word count until I was all done putting it into the computer, a moment that is going to be at once exciting and terrifying, because I honestly have no idea what to expect. Did I not cut enough? Too much? What will I do when I get there and realize I still have 20,000 words to get rid of? Where am I going to find THOSE words? I really did try to be critical of my cuts and didn’t save stuff just to be sentimental. I tried as best I could to just cut anything and everything that was absolutely unnecessary. I guess it’s just something I’ll have to deal with when I get there. Fingers are crossed that I did okay the first time.

In the interest of not getting burnt out on all this editing, since I know I still have a very long road to go, I’m taking ample time to do other things and get a break. Tomorrow Cam and I are going down to Boulder to have our late Valentine’s Day dinner. While we’re down there we’re going to do a little shopping (I need some retail therapy this week as it seems like ALL of my clothes have shrunk) and pick up some stuff at Home Depot. I’m planning this weekend to get rid of the bookshelves in my office and install floating wall shelves instead. Bookshelves are hard to work with because we have floor heating registers and furniture is never able to sit flush against the wall, a problem when you have something top-heavy that cats like to jump into and sit in. So I figure the shelves will not only look nicer but they’ll be safer too. Hoping that goes okay.

Anyway, I’ll keep you posted on how this first round of edits goes and with any luck I’ll be close to my word goal by the time I finish it up.

Till then!

Pondering New Years’ Resolutions

I feel like pointing out before I start writing this blog that I am using some orajel to clear up a sore I have on my gum (from a rogue pretzel stick on Christmas day) and the numbing agent seems to be going everywhere in my mouth except for on the sore. Go figure.

Anyway, that’s not what I was going to write about. What I’m writing about today is New Year’s Resolutions. We all make them, don’t we? Either directly or indirectly, serious or not serious. We all think about the new year being the time to let go of the old and usher in the new.

And so of course I’m pondering what I shall make my new year’s resolution. I always think of new year’s resolutions as a way to set a goal for myself to achieve throughout the year. And I usually try to keep it specific–“being fit and healthy” is way too broad and personally I think that’s why a lot of people give that goal up within the first few weeks of the year. Keep it specific! To brag a little, I’m 2 for 2 as far as making resolutions and keeping them goes. In 2011, I resolved that by the end of the year, my novel would be completed and ready to start sending to agents. Check. In 2012, I resolved that I would find an agent by the end of the year. And that I did too! Now, obviously the next logical step would be to resolve in 2013 that by the end of the year my book would be on its way to publication or already published, but unfortunately that notion is somewhat out of my hands. If my experience with the effects of Hurricane Sandy on my agents has been any indication, there are a lot of factors that are completely out of my hands in the world of publishing. The revision process could be slowed by any and all factors and who knows how long it will take to get a publisher interested. So obviously I want to see it in publication by the end of the year, but realistically I know that’s probably not possible. But as long as I’m working towards it, I’m a happy camper.

(Thought break here–I forgot to post about the fact that I finally got in contact with my agent and we are having a meeting at the end of January when I come back from Hawaii to discuss starting revisions.)

So, where do I go from there? If having my book published by the end of the year is not a realistic or possible goal, what other goals for 2013 should I have? Continuing to write, obviously, is one of them. But that’s kind of a yearly (i.e. for the rest of my life) kind of goal and it’s too broad. Read more. Yes, that’s something I should always be doing. It’s been hard for me to decide on something I want to work on during the year! Here’s a few I’ve thought about:

  • Improve my French
  • Start sommelier classes (fancy word for wine snob)
  • Take a few culinary classes or find a way to go back to school
  • Complete a new novel (again, something that’s sort of out of my hands if the agents want me to pursue one thing or another)
  • Finish the Song of Ice and Fire series (I’m still in book 2)
  • Finish some serious home renovations (i.e. painting the rest of the house)

I’ve got a lot of interests! It’s going to be tough for me to decide. I get thinking about the things I want to do and then I come back to the fact that I really can’t plan for much because life changes so drastically sometimes. Obviously if I get pregnant this year, I’m not going to be starting sommelier classes. Life is always changing like that. You have to roll with the punches but still find goals that you can fit inside the ebb and flow of every day life.

Well, good thing I still have a couple days to think about it. Sometimes making resolutions is hard!

Merry Christmas

Ah, yet another Christmas day has come and gone. All this time waiting for it to get here and now it is gone so fast. Always the way.

We spent Christmas eve and Christmas day with my parents. (And as much as I love spending time with them I am so glad to be sleeping in my own bed tonight; their guest bed is small and not spectacularly comfortable) My mom’s annual Christmas eve shindig was small this year, only about a dozen people, but it was fun. It was nice to get to talk to everyone instead of fighting your way through a crowd. After everyone left we planned to watch A Christmas Carol like we do every year but Cameron and I were really tired (and I’ll be honest, I’d had too much wine) and I crashed hardcore.

This morning it was just my parents and us. My brother was with his girlfriend and only came over for dinner (not even going to talk about it–suffice it to say I was highly annoyed). Santa (and my parents!) were very nice this year. We got a new smaller crockpot (with a timer!) from a family friend, an electric carver, an onion chopper (sounds like uber-practical stuff but considering how much time I spend in the kitchen it’s all awesome), a set of stemless white and red wine glasses (yay! finally a matching set!)…um, what else….Cameron gave me an awesome new phone cover with a graphic of The Hound of the Baskervilles on it and a “perpetual calendar” which I can’t even explain because it’s so awesome so I’ll post a picture of it instead. (P.S. Wicked kudos to Mr. Hubby, both of his gifts to me were things we happened to see randomly in stores over the year and I pointed them out to say “ooh how cool!” and he remembered.)

One word: magnets.

My parents also gave us both zip-up hoodies for our favorite football teams (my brother also gave me a Broncos t-shirt) and a couple other assorted odds and ends like the soundtrack to the new Les Mis movie (which I’ll be seeing on Saturday with my dad). Also between the two of us (and Cameron’s birthday) we got a good several hundred dollars’ worth in Home Depot gift cards (whenever family members asked what we wanted we just said Home Depot gift cards) so we are SOOOO excited for that. We can finally get a working sink in our master bathroom! Hallelujah! Plus it’ll be nice to have a little kitty for home renovations as they arise. (Maybe for doing the nursery hopefully soon??!)

On top of all that, we were so impressed with my mom’s swank new camera that we ordered one for ourselves so that we will have it to take with us to Hawaii. We have been thinking about getting a new, nice camera for a while and hers was so great and they got such a good deal on it through the military shopping website (no sales tax + no shipping) that we found one almost identical to hers for the same price. All in all we paid less than $200. I’m so excited for it to come. I have always been interested in photography and now that I have a great camera it will give me a good excuse to learn some more about the craft and start taking some great pictures.

Taken with my mom’s new camera

The furry family members got treats too–Santa brought the dog a big bag of chicken flavored rawhide chews and the kitties each got a mousy catnip toy that makes a squeaking noise when it is touched. (Great practice for kids and their toys!) Whiskey has been throwing his up in the air and batting it around all night.

After presents I made breakfast for everyone and then we relaxed for a while before starting up on the dinner preparations. My mom made a roast and a turkey breast along with a sweet potato/sausage smash, corn casserole, green beans, and mashed potatoes. Nom! My dad cracked a bottle of Mouton Cadet for the meal and it was awe-some. After dinner we had some coffee and then loaded up the car to come back home. It was a great day and I’m glad we got to spend it with my parents.

Trying to stump the “smile detector” on the new camera–not sure if it worked….

In other news – 2 weeks till we leave for Hawaii!!!

Transitioning to November

A day late, but Happy Halloween! And a blessed Samhain/Happy New Year to those friends of mine out there in the world who share such an inclination. I didn’t do much for Halloween yesterday except hand out candy at Starbucks for a couple hours. Nobody really trick-or-treats in the neighborhoods here because they’re so spread out (and we don’t need to entice any bears to come down and go after little kids with lots of sweets), but all the businesses on the main street hand out candy and other goodies. It’s a lot of fun.

got brains?

I went as a zombie chef….I had the uniform in my closet from when I was in culinary school so I figured I might as well use it. I got a lot of compliments on it and a couple kids were too scared to come over.

Anyway, now we move into November! Which, among other things, is National Novel Writing Month! (Or NaNoWriMo.) I’ve participated in the last two years but haven’t ever actually completed the 50,000 word goal. But, I am about to publish a novel twice that length, so it doesn’t really bother me haha. Anyway, I figure I’ll give it a go again this year if only to help get my brain in gear. I spoke to my agents yesterday and they are on Long Island so they’re a bit wet at the moment from the hurricane. As a result of that I am not sure how long it will take them to get back up and running, so I figure in the meantime if I’m not revising I might as well use it as an excuse to get some words on the page. (In any event, if you are a NaNo participant and wish to add me to your friends list, my handle is chatnoir06.)

I’m also working on remodeling the guest bathroom this weekend. Well not really remodeling, but making it more functional. It’s a small space and there’s not a lot of room to store things or add a stand-up cabinet, so armed with some ideas from Pinterest (god I love Pinterest), I’m going to be putting up some shelving to get things organized a little better. I’m kind of moving room by room through the house to get things in tip top shape. So after a new coat of paint and some shelving and finally hanging the mirror in the bathroom, it should look pretty darn nice. I am hoping to have it completed by Sunday so that it’ll be ready to go when my parents come up to visit. I will throw some before/after photos on here when I’m done!