Monday, December 5, 2016

Bulldog anatomy

Are their teeth supposed to look like this? Ah, well, we love her anyway.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Writing today

So I'm back on track with the book and still enthusiastic about the story.

There's a beautiful, but cool, heroine, and a roguish hero, both with hidden pasts and conflicting motives. And I've worked in a few more twists and turns.

With over 45,000 words written, I'm about a third of the way through the rough draft. So glad to be writing again, albeit with a few distractions.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Back on track

It's been neglected way too long, but I'm getting the book back on track. 

Rereading it now and loving the view of the new pool. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

We've moved!

Wow, almost a month since my last post on how moving day was almost here. Well, many days and man-hours later, we're in!

There's still the handful of boxes to unpack, breakfast chairs and theater seating still being made and not in, but we're almost done. Whew.

A couple trips to Colorado and one to the lake slowed getting the last few things done, but I feel like we're in and settled. Now time to get serious again about the book--geez that's been put on the back burner too long.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Getting closer to move-in day

Wood floors were finished this week. Appliances went in and landscaping is nearly done. A few last minute trim carpentry issues were addressed and the painter has just gone back in for finish coats.

I'm beginning to see a light at the end of the very long tunnel. How fun it is watching it all come together. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Trees, glorious trees

What do you do when your back yard has a wide open view of seemingly miles of power lines and the roof of a neighbor's garage? 

Invest in a mini-forest of trees to cover it all up!

Our mini-forest was delivered today. Southern magnolias.

There's only a month left before we have to vacate the house we're in now. I've got mixed feelings about selling and leaving the kids' childhood home. We'll all miss the old house dearly.

But things are starting to come together at the new digs, and everything is shaping up nicely.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Three summits in three months

Nothing beats the soaring vistas from the crest of the Colorado Rockies. And this summer I was lucky enough to summit Mt. Evans three times.

First, with Youngest and Middle in June, on Youngest's birthday. What a fun coincidence to summit over 14,000 feet on his 14th birthday. 

Next, it was a trip up in July with Oldest when we were in town for his freshman orientation at Mines. 

Lastly, my third summit of the summer, just a couple days ago, with Superman.

Three summit trips, three months. And I'm looking forward to doing it again next year. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

National Mutt Day

I almost let this day pass, but how could I forget to honor Penny on National Mutt Day?

It's a bit confusing; there's a National Mutt Day in December, too. I'll post another picture of her then. It's impossible to get too much of Penny. 

Here she is at the house in Colorado. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Oldest on top of the world

Last weekend was freshman orientation at Mines, and Oldest and I had a great (but quick) trip to Colorado.

Most of Friday was spent on campus for freshman orientation, but we were able to get some hiking in on the trails near the house Friday evening.

Saturday morning I dragged Oldest up Mount Evans. It was his turn at the top of the world.  Middle, Youngest and I were there in June. That post is here.

Looking down on Colorado from 14,265 feet is breathtaking. The tundra above the timberline is so vast and so different than being in the trees. From the summit, on a clear day, you see downtown Denver to the west, and as far as Pike's Peak in Colorado Springs to the south.

Here are a few pics from the weekend.

Out in a limb for that perfect shot while hiking.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Floors from a tobacco barn

One of the coolest things about our new house has to be the wood floors. 

When I first saw the unfinished wood planks in the warehouse, it looked like someone had demolished an old fence and piled up the debris. I was skeptical.

But this particular debris was reclaimed wood flooring from a hundred-year-old tobacco barn outside Stanford, Kentucky. I loved the story, but wasn't convinced I wanted to walk on this wood for the next thirty or so years, until the contractor showed me a finished four-foot by four-foot section -- sold!

Now after weeks of being cleaned and fumigated, and undergoing some preliminary hand-scraping in the shop, it has arrived.

The planks are a variety of different widths and lengths, and it's fun to watch the guys piece them together like a jigsaw puzzle. It's obvious they're familiar with each board. They'll be working in one room, remember a board in a particular pile in another room that might work, get it, try it out . . . and on and on.

I'm very impressed with the whole process. And although they've got weeks of hand-scraping, staining and waxing left to do, I'm already loving my floors.

Here they are being pieced together in the dining room.

Here is some floor wood mixed in with left over trim material. That's my builder working hard getting all the contractors scheduled.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Happy 4th from the lake

Okay, I know it's not the 4th. I missed posting this by two days, but I'm cutting myself some slack--life got in the way.

It was a great weekend at the lake. It involved a combination of parties, hot dogs, boat rides, jet skis, old friends, new friends, family, fireworks, more hot dogs, and some ridiculously delicious Mexican cinnamon cookies (I ate a dozen myself, then picked up a dozen more to bring home to Houston).

Here's a clip of my very own Flying Wallenda.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Hooray for the handrail

Yay, finally a dramatic step forward. The house has been coming along drip-drip-drip, but finally today there was a big visible step forward.

I've been waiting for the balustrade since my previous post on tweaking it to get it just right. The tweaks (and the wait) were worth it. I think it turned out perfect. It'll look even better when the stair risers are painted and the stair treads are uncovered and finished.

On a separate note, the hardwood flooring is being fumigated and should arrive on site next week. The flooring (along with the stair treads) is reclaimed wood from an old tobacco barn in Kentucky. I've seen it stacked in the contractor's warehouse and it looked like someone's old discarded fence material. But I can't wait to see it finished--a post on hardwoods coming soon! (I hope soon.)

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Back in the mountains

I'm right at half way through a ten day vacation at our home in the Colorado Rocky Mountain foothills. I've got Middle and Youngest in tow this time.

It's somewhat of a working vacation. The house needed a little 'tending to'.

In addition to a few odds and ends tree-trimming and plumbing issues, we're replacing an old water heater before it goes out (which would be a disaster if it happens when we're 1,000 miles away in Houston and don't know about it).

Although there hasn't been a lot of down time yet with contractors in and out of the house, we've hiked the foothills several times and made a trip to the summit of Mount Evans, elevation 14,264 feet.

Check one off my bucket list.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Writing view today

I'm trying to crank out a couple thousand words today to catch up to where I should be in my book. 

And since we've finally got a nice sunny day in Houston, I decided to spend some time writing outside. At least until I get too hot. 

love this house and have mixed feelings about selling it. Lots of memories with the kids in this backyard. 

But the house is going on the market next week whether I'm emotionally ready or not. 

This great view will be for sale, but Daisy's not included.

Friday, June 3, 2016


Well the first one is just weeks away from flying the nest. Graduation was last week and it's still hard for me to believe it's done. It'll take a while to sink in.

I'm sure it'll hit hard when August rolls around and it's time to pack him up--it'll hit hard for me, probably not as much for him. He's so excited about starting college that it takes a bit of the sting out of letting him go.

But there's sure to be buckets of tears when I have to say goodbye and let go. He's such a sweet baby and so darned cute. Look at that smile.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Stopping construction

There have only been a couple times when I've stopped construction on the new house because something wasn't right. The first time was when the guys were framing the center gable section of the front elevation wrong. (That change was too complicated to explain here.)

The second time was a week or so ago when I saw how the stone carpenters were cladding the front columns.

First, let me preface by saying the cast stone guys are artists--I've told them that. But when they started the stone on the columns and I had to stop them. The way it was being done would have resulted in the columns looking like a giant jigsaw puzzle.

The guys were in the process of using six pieces on each side of each column--there are eight columns.  Way too many pieces.

It cost a week delay on the exterior (it didn't delay work on the inside), but I had them reduce the number of pieces by half. In other words, I had them make the pieces twice as long.

It made a huge difference. When the columns are finished and grouted, they're going to look spectacular.

Here are a couple pics showing the way they were going to do the columns originally, and the way I have them doing them now. So much prettier!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A grand closet for Gap jeans and flip flops

The new house will be double the size of the house we're in now, but the master closet is quadruple the combined size of our current ones. Which is quite funny when I think about it since my wardrobe consists mainly of an inordinate number of blue jeans, t-shirts, and flip flops.

It's going to be a beautiful closet when it's done--three windows for natural light, a packing island in the center, and acres of woodwork, drawers and shelves.

Many people won't think my super casual, super comfy wardrobe is fancy enough for my new closet. Maybe I'll supplement the smattering of designer duds I have now just to fill in the extra space. It's more likely I'll buy another pair of jeans. Consistency is a virtue, right? 

I'm still not sure what I'm going to put on all the extra shelves. I do have an impressive collection of cowboy boots that will fill a couple of them, my flip flops will fill a couple more.

Here are two 'Before' pictures, minus the shelves and drawers since they're currently being prepped for paint. I'll post an 'After' picture when we're in, flip flops and all.

Closet left: There's a bit more on the left side that I didn't get in this pic.

Closet middle-to-right: There's more farther right but I couldn't squeeze it into the pic. I'll try a panorama when it's all done.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Missing my happy place

It's getting to the point where I can't stand it any longer. I can't wait to get back to the house in Colorado.

In Houston, we've had days of weather in the upper-80's and even 90's already. We've also had stretches where it has rained multiple days straight--today included.

After purchasing the house in mid-February, we've been twice. The first time was for spring break in March. We went again one weekend in April for the Mines spring game.

Although there's a light at the end of my tunnel (I'll be going sometime in June), I find myself more and more flipping through the Colorado pictures on my phone.

I love the pictures that include Superman and the kids, but I also love the pictures of just the house, the yard and the views.

Here are a few of my favorites.

The kids playing in the back yard over spring break.

I'll never tell what I had to do to get this shot.

King of the photobomb. I recently purchased a giant giclee of running buffalo to hang on the blank wall behind them. I'll hang it in June when I'm there and post a pic.

Ravine just down from the back yard. Fun hiking.

This was the view of Mount Evans from the house one morning in March.

Monday, May 2, 2016

A peek at cast stone

The Houston weather is giving me fits. Rain-sun-rain-rain-sun. Work on the exterior has been excruciating to watch. Work one day, then off for two, and on and on.

But we finally got cast stone around the first few windows. Two days, four windows. At this rate, we should have stone done by summer.

But here's a peek. So pretty.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Balustrade: close but not close enough

The progress on the house is creeping along. I really shouldn't go over there every day to see what's been done--it's like waiting for a pot of water to boil.

Too often it's two steps forward, one step back. Sometimes it's a half a step forward. Some days there's a small army of men working all over the place, other days it's a trickle of men in and out. Ah, well.

A fun surprise waiting for me one evening this week was a sample of the stair balustrade. After hours of sifting through iron balustrades on Pinterest and Houzz, I sent a picture of the one I wanted to the contractor who will be fabricating it for us.

The sample came in close, but not perfect.

Here is a picture of the one I found (it's grainy because I zoomed and cropped the heck out of a screen shot). Following that one is the sample I found waiting for me in the house. A couple tweaks, throw on a wood top rail, and it'll be perfect.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Hallelujah the stucco is painted

Stucco paint color. It was probably the most difficult (and stressful) choice I've had to make regarding the house so far.

I knew what I wanted the house to look like. It was a matter of shuffling through hundreds of "tans" to find just the right one.

Grinding through the Sherwin Williams fan deck, I chose a dozen colors closest to what I had in mind. Then I began to compare the shades. It couldn't be too yellow, too gray, or too green. And absolutely no pink. Not too dark, but not too light.

After whittling my favorites down to four, the contractor painted samples on one of the columns that will eventually be clad completely in cast stone.

I picked one of the colors and they began to paint. Soon thereafter, I began to panic. It was a shade too dark. 

Scrap the first choice and go with another. I held my breath. They painted and voila--perfect!

Here's a pic of the finished color along with the samples on the column. The color I eventually settled on is the third from the top. Ironically, it's Sherwin Williams "Stucco". Gorgeous color.

Here's a wide shot. My iPhone doesn't capture the color perfectly, but almost. More pics to follow when all the cast stone is put on. Now I wait for stone and the roof!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Kitchen selfie

Cabinets and trim are going in.

Every night I pop over to see what the trim carpenters got done that day. Every night, for over two weeks, my reaction has been the same: Wow, they did so much today . . . Wow, they've still got so much to do.

I think our house is a trim material eating machine. Half a dozen times I've seen a truck pull up, trim material unloaded, then . . . chomp, chomp, chomp . . . another truck show up, more trim material unloaded . . . well, you get the picture.

Here are a couple recent pics.

Here's our attempt at a kitchen family selfie.

Now here's a better one of the kitchen. They assure me the microwave in the foreground is not the one to be installed later.

Here's the gallery looking toward the front doors.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

My big beautiful front doors

I was beginning to think they were mythological. I was told they were done weeks ago, but they never showed up at the house. Then I had to leave for Colorado. Still no doors.

But look what was waiting for me when I returned yesterday. I finally have my big beautiful front doors. They're six feet wide, nine feet tall, and super heavy. Custom cast in iron to a design I gave them.

I used a combination of elements from several doors found on Pinterest. They turned out perfect.

They're still covered in plastic, and the glass won't be installed until the house is closer to completion, but here are a couple pictures.

Friday, March 4, 2016

The calm before the storm

It's a slow rumble below the surface, but I can feel it inching its way up. So far, it's been manageable, but I'm not so sure how much longer I have before it hits.

There's been a steady trickle of decisions on the Houston house--design questions, floor plan changes, window and door designs, roof color, cast stone profiles. I've squeezed in decisions on the unexpected purchase of our Colorado house - ordering furniture over the phone, buying furnishings online, bedding, kitchenwares, artwork, even door mats. So far, so good.

But we're nearing a critical stage in the construction of the Houston house. We've just sheet-rocked and now comes trim, cabinets, paint, tile, flooring, light fixtures. Stucco color, chimney caps, landscaping, garage door styles. It's going to come quick now. But I can't think about that just yet.

The next thing on my To Do List is getting the house in Colorado furnished and organized before Chris and the kids hit for Spring Break. It will be fun, but exhausting. My only angst is the windstorm of decisions I face when I get back to Houston.

But for the moment, I'll enjoy the calm before the storm. Here's the view from the deck in Colorado. Maybe I'll just stay.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Going green on insulation

I should have snapped pictures of the elaborate spider web of electrical, cable, internet, stereo and security wires in the walls, but now it's all been covered up.

The guys finished insulating Saturday. We used a damp-spray cellulose insulation that insulates around pipes, HVAC ducting and wiring without voids, much better than regular fiberglass batt insulation strips. They sprayed it between the floors, too.

The Cellulose Insulation Manufacturers Association says it's 30-40% more effective in stopping air infiltration than fiberglass batts. Who am I to argue?

Basically, cellulose is recycled newspaper. When it's installed, it's blown through a flexible hose and mixed with water at the blowing nozzle. The water dampens the paper as it is blown out. The wet cellulose adheres to the sides of the wall cavities and fills all the voids around pipes and wiring.

Cellulose is also a very effective sound barrier. The silence when I walk in the house now is striking. The master bedroom has cellulose insulation on three sides and I think I could sleep through a nuclear bombardment.

It's prettier, too (if insulation can be pretty). Here are a couple pictures taken in the library. The large gap on the far right, just outside the library, is where the custom steel front doors will finally be installed tomorrow - yay! Now on to sheetrock.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Cast stone, cast stone . . . wherefore art thou?

They just can't quite get it right. I'm talking about the cast stone design for the house. I've sent pictures, they've sent samples, I've sent more pictures, they've sent more samples--you get the idea.

It may seem like a minor detail, but when there will be so much of it, and when the elevation is relatively straightforward and simple and the cast stone is a major component, it's not a minor detail.

Here's a picture of my inspiration cast stone. Following are pictures of some of the stone contractor's hits and misses. They're still tweaking it for me.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Another writing distraction

Just when I declared I'll write every day and not let the construction of our new house be a distraction, I have another distraction--but a good one.

Oldest will be playing football for Colorado School of Mines in the fall. Mines is in Golden, and Golden is practically heaven on earth. So of course when we were there in January for Oldest's official football visit, we went vacation house hunting.

Here are pictures of the house that we have on contract. I'm now furiously trying to plan for the closing, and furnishing it before the family hits there in mid-March for spring break.

It's a distraction--but a good one.

There are views of Mount Evans from nearly every room in the house--a definite selling point for us.