Saturday, September 30, 2017

Outdoor Eyesore No More

Last night I received the initial design from the landscape architects for our soon-to-be revamped outdoor living space between the house and cabana. It's not a bad first stab. We'll be making a few changes, but it's nice to begin envisioning this area as something presentable where we can entertain family and friends. A freshly tiled swimming pool, hanging out by the new fireplace, tossing horse shoes or bags for corn hole in the remodeled play area - we're looking forward to all of it later this fall. 

*copyright Sarah Smith @ Cypress Landscaping

Friday, September 29, 2017

A Snarly Sorta Week

This week I've had lots of practice using my stern teacher, I'm 50 and not gonna put up with your BS voice. I wrangled with the cable folks, picture print folks and furniture store, in no particular order. My record looks like it may be 2 outta 3, but I'm still waiting to see if I get the outcome I want.

I'd like for my mother to have her own cable and wifi in the guesthouse, but you'd think I'm asking them to run the connection to Mars. Back in the "old days", the cable guys came out and could problem solve this sorta thing. They'd run cables up and over doors and around windows and bury it in the yard to get your money for their services. Nowadays, they come out - though not always at the time they told you OR even the same day - to take a look, then toss up their hands and cry uncle. 

I've chewed out sales reps and technicians and third party cable running guys who were boggled by the whole thing. For seven weeks. SEVEN! At one point, I just started laughing because it's a total comedy of errors. The sales reps promise things the third party cable running guys can't seem to comprehend and then the techs responsible for flipping the switch are left to give me the bad news and watch steam come outta my ears. So yeah, time to give the satellite dish folks a call after wasting lots of hours I'll never see again with both AT&T and Spectrum.

I'm sooooo excited about our travel pics wall in the new house. It's in the hallway running from the garage to the open living space, so isn't a particularly glamorous area of the house. But it gets tons of sunlight from the windows and is visible from the kitchen, dining and family rooms. 

We got off to a good start when we laid them out on the floor to make sure it looked *right* before starting to put nail holes in the wall. After the first couple pics, we discovered all four of the 16x20 metal prints had their hangers either sideways or upside down. So I rang up the Shutterfly folks and had to arm wrestle them into replacing the prints, as well as paying the shipping fee. Because seriously, who is gonna hang a pic of a boat upside down? I brought up every argument I could think of - I couldn't see the back of the pic to check the hanger on their website and didn't anyone pay attention to the finished product to see how it would hang? And even if I did order it upside down, wasn't it worth a call to the customer (ME) to ask if madam really wanted that pic of the Iceland black sand beach hanging sideways instead of right side up? Thankfully, the nice customer service rep on the phone decided it was worth the goodwill to make it right, and so we'll be putting the rest of the travel pics in their place next Friday once the replacements have arrived.

Last, but not least, of the folks to aggravate me this week are the furniture guys. I ordered several custom pieces from a local leather place and when they were delivered, the chairs we opted to do in a fabric were HIDEOUS. I think these were edited from the Archie Bunker show because they were just too danged ugly. The decorator that helped with these selects was appalled. So I upgraded to a leather option that would compliment the sofa and bench. That was back during the first week of August. The furniture company told us the reject chairs could stay here at the house until the new ones arrive. Until today. This morning on the way to the craft store, I got a call from some guy that the chairs blah blah blah I couldn't hear because it was on the bluetooth in my SUV. I was really happy at the thought of getting my new chairs. Guess again there sister. He was calling to set up a time to fetch the uglies. 

Once I got home this afternoon, I gave the furniture store manager a call to ask about the status of my new leather replacement chairs. Since they're coming from Norway, it seems they won't arrive at the port for another 2 wks and then take 7-10 days to get to the store. I explained how that isn't acceptable since we won't have any chairs to use for about a month. I'm hoping they see things my way and leave them here until my new ones are delivered. Store manager guy was gonna talk to the owner and get back to me.

So yeah, those are the highlights of my week. We did make it to the art museum fundraiser last night. After a rainy week, we all sat around with frizzy-fuzzy hair in the large events tent since it was held outside. No rain plan, it seems. The theme was Japan. And the band was amazing, though really loud since we were up front. Folks come to these things to socialize and network and so you end up shouting in the ear of your friend, spouse, co-worker, etc. It's rather annoying. Cool decor. And drinking sake out of a square wooden cup - not your usual Thursday evening, at least not at our house.

And last but not least, it's MEGA-mum! <insert deep base drum bongs here>

This makes me laugh because it's just so over-the-top. Talk about a pain in the patootie to put together. Not to mention the petite or slim teenage girls wearing these things around their necks. I can just hear it now at the orthopedic's office... Little Sue Ellen here had perfect posture until homecoming week.

I saw it outside the boutique entrance when I went to pick up a couple school spirit shirts I had made to wear to games - Go Panthers! When I asked the shop owner, she said only one girl ordered MEGA mum last year for homecoming, costing about $300. I seriously hope this doesn't become a thing at my daughter's school. Or at least not until after she graduates in a couple years. Then behemoth mums can be ALLLLLL the rage because I just don't have the craftiness or glue gun skills to tackle creating something this big.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Mom Homecoming Garter Logic 101

One of the cheer moms is making mums, garters, hairbows, etc for homecoming next week and 50% of the proceeds go to the cheer fund. But the prices seemed kinda high and we were unsure about the quality of the product since I heard a story of a really fugly garter a couple years ago that had to be fixed before it could be presented to the guy. I'm not good with a last minute scramble like that, so the 11th grader and I decided to give it a go with making our own garter for her date this afternoon.

We zipped over to the local Michael's - we prefer Hobby Lobby but they're rocking that closed every Sunday deal like Chick Fil A - to peruse the selects. That's when we went a little bit crazy. Awww, isn't this cute? I bet he'd like the football with his number on it! What about a baby cowbell? This silver ribbon is really pretty! And don't forget the glue gun...

The finished product looks fine, considering it's the first time either one of us has tackled a Texas homecoming garter. Bottom line is that I spent $50 on supplies when I could have had the mum lady whip one up for $40. I earned a couple burned fingertips from the glue gun for my frugal efforts that kinda fell flat, but we had a fun time putting it together at the kitchen island.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Lizard City

Every time I walk out the back door into the patio area, I have to pass in between these trees with the tall leafy plant thingies growing there. Some of it dead. A mix of ball moss and other miscellaneous vegetation. And every time I walk by, I hear rustling. I often see a lizard skittering off the flagstone for cover in what I consider lizard city. With the odd garter snake thrown in just to mix it up.

Every once in a while I spy a HUGE lizard. As in escaped from some kid's terrarium. Maybe slipped out of the monitor exhibit at the zoo. I can't help but wonder if that's what is keeping the squirrel population under control, our ginormous lizards eating the rodents for snacks.

I'm reallllllly looking forward to the landscape architect designing a patio plan calling for the removal of this eyesore that gives me the heebie jeebies. I bet some nice mulch or pebbles would make a lovely surround for the trees. It's about time to say adios to the lurking lizards and their habitat.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A New Place to Hang Out

We're still getting things off the floor here at the remodel house. Last weekend it was the elk's turn to find his new spot. He's the crowning jewel of the stuffed zoo we'll have out in the pool cabana. Slowly but surely we'll get both sides filled in with the other hoofed critters we already have, plus the ones from Africa STILLLLLLLL at the taxidermist here in Texas for processing. 

It was a tight fit. Any closer and the guys would have poked a hole in the ceiling to attach the antlers. Because seriously, those suckers detach. Otherwise it would be quite heavy and unwieldy when you need to move and hang it. Shift Mr. Elk the wrong way and lose an eye. I'm sure ER docs see that all the time.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Bragging on my kids

The teen is off and running this school year with cheering and peer mentoring and clubs and AP classes and handling it like a champ. She drives herself to and from school and that has been such a handy thing for her to have her license. No more grousing at me if I didn't read her mind and restock the strawberries. She just hops in her car and goes to buy some on her own.

Homecoming (HOCO) is in a few weeks and this year the dance is Sadie Hawkins. Oh the horror! I've gotta ask a boy? What if he thinks I like him? What if he says no? So the teen debated and pondered and finally made her poster to rustle up a date. Because you don't just ask face-to-face anymore. You have to come up with a cute slogan on a poster. She did a play on the young man's last name that's pronounced blass and made it BLAST since the HOCO theme this year is space/aliens. Which begs the question, whaaaaattt?! And who the heck was on the committee that chose this?

My furry child Ollie has become my walking buddy in the 'hood every morning. This past week, I took him farther than usual and I think it did him some good. He was dragging by the time we got home and seemed less restless... though the squirrels in the front yard still plague him with their antics as if they know he can't be turned loose out front to run them down. On a side note, here is the little prince making himself at home on the new loveseat in the front living area.

Friday was the third day we spied a roadrunner in the same area on our walk. It stands there and lets us get pretty close before it dashes away. Ollie seems perplexed as to why it doesn't fly off like every other winged creature he has chased. That same day, we spied a gray fox. If it had been a coyote, I'd have started looking around for falling boulders and ACME dynamite sticks. Beep-beep and that's all folks!

Patio Sprucing

Now that the inside of the remodel house is about 95% done, with just the upstairs bedrooms and bath needing odds and ends, it's time to tackle the patio. It's just so danged visible from the family/dining room in the house through the wall of windows, that I feel like it's an extension of the entertaining space and needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. 

Our decorator has chosen some thick slate tiles for the new patio decking. It's got shades of blue and green and gray and cream that will hopefully look great in a broken brick pattern to match the house and cabana. Now we're just waiting on our appointment with the landscape architect this Friday to get things kicked off with a master plan so the contractor and decorator can work their magic.

Bye-bye, mismatched pool decking.

So long dead space in the vee of the house and hello modern water fountain that will double as a bird bath. I'm thinking something kinda like this.

Adios, bare concrete slab.

Time for an outdoor fireplace to roast weenies and marshmallows later this fall. It must have a sufficient hearth for my big ol' butt to park it there and get warm.

And the old rubber mulch area where the former owners had a big outdoor playset will get some sort of overhaul, too. Maybe an area that can be used to toss horseshoes, pitch washers and play corn hole? Anything would be an improvement over the current eyesore.

I'll be posting updates once we get into demo in a few weeks. I hope the landscape architect really understands and honors our vision of a clean and more modern space that requires less maintenance and can be enjoyed year round.

Monday, September 11, 2017

A Dog's Life

Every morning, I take Ollie my furry child on a walk through the neighborhood. Our remodel house, built in 1953, was way out in the boonies back in the day  but now it's in the thick of things. Homes in our little sliver of the city are all built on 2-3 acres lots. So it's a really peaceful and mostly car-free stroll with Ollie boy for about 45 minutes.

The pugzillas, mother's other children, come over to hang with us quite often. They shed like cheap fur coats, but they're pretty entertaining. Lots of snorting and snuffling and waddling around like bowling balls with legs.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Ponderings on a Bush

Now that we've got the inner fence for Ollie boy, we need to plant something along it so that you can't see into the backyard pool area from the road. 

This part of the yard, seen below, is a bit of a mess right now. We had a big old leaning Arizona Ash tree removed because it had started to lose big limbs when it rained or the wind blew a bit. And then there's the freshly turned dirt from the septic pipe fix. I'm thinking I need to make a run to the local big box home improvement store to see about getting some St Augustine seed to try and fill in the mud this fall with grass so I won't be fighting the issue of dirty dog footprints all over the house.

I went online to the trusty A&M Ag site to find some options. But there were stipulations. It has to be deer resistant. Those hungry SOBs will strip plants clean of leaves. Been there, provided snacks for them in our past landscaping. 

Another important point is that the plants must be drought tolerant. The thought of dragging a hose around to hand water these plants for the rest of my days isn't something I want to do. There's only so much zen and relaxation I get from standing there watering plants and contemplating the universe while the skeeters chew on me. 

The whole how-fast-it-grows issue is a Catch-22. We want it to grow quickly and fill in. But then we want it to slow down and not try to overtake the fence, yard, AC units, dog, etc. Because then I'm having to pay my yard guy extra to trim these as yet to be determined bushes several times a year if they grow too fast.

Right now I've narrowed it down to four finalists. Next step is to visit a local nursery to see them in person and get the 411 from their folks.

The nominees are...

Wax Myrtle

Sandwanka Viburnum

Red Tip Photinia

Variegated Privet


Sunday, September 3, 2017

Falling into Blue and Green

I sure do LOVE me some fall. Autumn is awesome. It's the second most wonderful time of the year. And this year I'm decorating with punches of blue and green and silver that slide right in alongside my blue and green vintage glass collection.

It's not traditional colors, but I find it equally pleasing to the eye. Refreshing and soothing - no bright orange pops of color to damage my retinas. We've been there and done that when the girls were little. Now it's fall the way momma wants it and I'm thinking this new color scheme will be around for years to come.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Love Me Some Friday Night Lights

They were great. Oh sure, the football team lost. But the cheerleaders looked so danged cute and peppy on the sidelines. The 11th grader was a bit nervous, being on the sidelines in front of a crowd for the first time at a Texas high school football game, but she didn't let it show. She looked like she was having fun and we were proud of her. 

We kicked off the team sports school spirit Friday by attending a volleyball game with friends whose daughter is a senior. I had a nice expat stroll down memory lane with Debbie that just moved back to Texas this summer with her husband who retired yesterday from a 27 yr stint in the Air Force. We discovered our daughters played volleyball against each other last year when they were both attending international schools in the London 'burbs. Small world, as always.

Then we hit the outdoor stands to watch the daughter cheer. And some occasional football, too. 

The daughter's school has their own version of the corps and it's pretty cool. Reminds me of back in the day at A&M. I really liked this pic because it's a great distance shot of the Texas hill country on a Friday evening in September.

Here's a little video of our cheerleader in action.