Patio Envy and Backyard DIY Projects

We live on a hill.  There’s a privacy fence running all around the back yard, but because of said hill, we can easily see over it from our back porch and into our back neighbor’s yard.  This gave us a bird’s eye view of their project last weekend–which was to build an epic deck off the back of their house.  The back of their house is laid out very much like ours…small covered space, which they had previously enclosed.  They knocked that down and extended the deck out into a great entertainment space, complete with a new patio set and some cute decorative stuff.

Y’all, I totally have outdoor space envy.

Now we have no need of a deck.  Our house has a long, wide extension of the concrete patio, so we’ve got the space already.  But right now, we are the people in the neighborhood who have weeds as tall as me.  I’m allergic to all of it, plus we totally bypassed spring and jumped straight to summer, so I haven’t had any inclination to get out and deal with them (maybe on Memorial Day, since I’m off).  I did, earlier this spring, hose off the back porch and put down an outdoor rug, clean off the grill (which we use all the time), and clean the outdoor furniture–but in general I haven’t done anything else.

attached-pergola-designsIf money were no object–well, okay, first off, I’d hire a yard crew to deal with the jungle that is our flower beds.  We are to the point where we may need the Green Berets to hunt up the actual legitimate flora buried under the weeds and vines.  But anyway, if money were no object, I would totally build an attached pergola off the back, stretching to the edge of our patio–the kind with those nice drapes of sailcloth for shade.  Maybe with a swing.  And twinkle lights.  And a nice pretty new patio set rather than the motley crew we’ve cobbled together.

cabana-lounge-mMaybe eventually we could do something like this easy DIY cabana.  And there seem to be instructions for creating a PVC pergola (multiple versions) (though I can’t find any pictures).

As money is totally an object and my budget runs more toward a few cans of spray paint to update said motley crew and using stuff I already have, I’ll have to be more creative.  I’ve been haunting Pinterest for backyard DIY projects.  Of course, just cleaning up all the weeds will help tremendously.  Emptying out my existing pots and planting something pretty (and hardy since I’m awful about killing things).  I might use some tomato stakes or bamboo to make custom trellises (or maybe just inverted tomato cages) for some Carolina jasmine.  I definitely need to clean off the ceiling fan out there because–ew.  Dirt and spider webs.  We’ve got a lovely big yard flag with our last initial on it that was a gift–I totally want to hang that.  I’ve got a gigantic canvas tarp I bought for a failed shade project last year.  I might turn that into some outdoor curtains to shade part of the porch.  Shade is definitely an issue.  I do have a pretty big green umbrella and stand.  I really wish our current patio table had a hole in the middle for an umbrella.


bucket tableI could totally make a bucket table.  One of the things we’ve acquired is a big pretty marble table top…hmm, I wonder if the galvanized bucket we aren’t using for the dogs is sturdy enough to hold it…That would fit in front of our hand me down glider.  And there’s that wee side table my mom found somewhere or other at a garage sale or something.  Plus I’ve got fabric out the wazoo to make cushions and pillows and such.

I’ve got the STUFF to make something–the thing I DON’T have is time.  But maybe I’ll do some of this for a project when I hit the dig out stage, once Know Me Well is out to my editor.

Excuse me, I have to go perform a self intervention to get myself off of Pinterest again.

#ROW80 Round 2 Goals

It’s already time for Round 2 goals for A Round of Words In 80 Days.

I’ve had this window open for an hour, looking for five minutes to scribble down goals, and I keep getting interrupted.  It’s totally that kind of Monday.

So okay, let’s keep this short and sweet.

  1. Continue to publish one recipe a week (that slot is getting co-opted today).
  2. Write at least 20 out of 30 days.
  3. Finish Liam and Riley’s book.  I was about at the halfway point on this at the end of Round 1 and realized last week that there were some significant problems with my plot.  It held up fine as the novella it was originally planned to be, but as the story evolved to be a longer book, my plot points weren’t cutting it.  I did a major plotting overhaul over the weekend, revised my outline, and set up a new Scrivener file, moving over what was salvageable.  I was able to keep about 19.5k of the original 45k (and there are some other bits I can repurpose for another Wishful story) and dive back in to writing proper last night.  The revised outline is back in line with the shorter 50-60k novel I wanted when it first began to expand.  I’m aiming to knock this draft out in 6 weeks.
  4. Outline and begin drafting anthology novella.  This is supposed to be 30k or less.  I would be delighted to knock it out entirely this round (it’s due in August).
  5. Outline and potentially begin drafting follow up novella for Dillon and Avery.  This wasn’t originally on my docket…at all.  But people really liked my couple from Once Upon A Coffee and wanted to see more, so I decided to give them what they want.
  6. Clean up my diet.  I re-acquired some poor eating habits over the holidays and now that Easter is over, I feel like I can really buckle down.  Over the last month or so, I FINALLY got back into the groove getting up and back into my workouts, so it’s time to address the food side of the equation.

Midweek #ROW80 Check-In

I haven’t written properly in days.  I was gone all weekend to my mom’s, then I was catching up on stuff I didn’t get done because I was gone.  And now, now I’m sick.  Damn it.  I’ve got a sinus infection or cold or something.  Can’t breathe worth a damn.  I’ve been taking my vitamin C and zinc and echinecea, and using my various and sundry essential oils.  Hopefully I’ll start feeling better tomorrow.

I’m home now, at least.  I got blessed three times and had a variety of cold remedies recommended to me by the time I made it out of Walmart with my soup and crackers.  I’m sure I reek of Vick’s Vaporub but I can’t smell a thing.  A friend is hooking me up with some legitimate 12 hour Sudafed later today, thank you lord.

So I’m marathon watching Monarch of the Glen and drinking endless cups of tea.  There are worse ways of spending a sick day.

Midweek #ROW80 Check-In

I am almost done with my Christmas shopping!  Which means now I need to do my Christmas baking!  I’m going to be out of town all weekend, so I’m not sure when I’m going to get to this…

I’ve been making slow progress on She’s Got A Way.  I’m in that sort of floundery place in the first act where I’m still sort of finding the right voice for the characters.  It’ll need revisions, so I’m not really worried about that, just trying to find my stride.  I’ve got to start making myself use Stay Focused again during my evening writing block so I don’t go off wasting time on Facebook or checking email.  We aren’t going to talk about yesterday’s tangent grabbing free stock photos during a trial at Stock Photo Secrets.

I am totally in that place right now where it’s dark in the morning, ergo I do not want to get out of bed. This is actually my beef with daylight savings time the rest of the year but winter, it doesn’t matter. It’s gonna be dark when I’m supposed to get up (and body says “GIRL, IT’S DARK! YOU SUPPOSED TO BE SLEEPIN’!).  As you all well know, a morning person, I am not. The not getting out of bed part means I’ve been slacking on my workouts, as the vast majority of my exercise happens then or not at all.

I had started laying groundwork a couple weeks ago for revamping my training program, with more of an eye toward strengthening my body specifically for taekwondo (being that I am not 20 anymore and this is not anywhere near as easy as it was in college :takes moment of silence in appreciation for the body I had at 20: ). I decided to try something a little different to combat boredom and create a sort of… a la carte system. Using Trello (this web based program/app that’s sort of like a lovechild of Evernote and Wunderlist), I made a series of boards with exercises in various categories: push, pull, deadlift variations, squat variations, bonus work, core work, band exercises, and specific TKD conditioning work. So the idea is that on my lifting days, I pick one from each category (well, more than one from bonus work if I have time/energy, as that covers a lot of different stuff). The bandwork is actually for Tuesdays and Thursdays when I run in the morning and have TKD in the evenings because I’ve got a set of bands in my office and can throw in a few things there during my get your butt out of your chair and move for a few minutes breaks.

So I dove in to that this morning. It was definitely nice to change things up. I also confirmed what I already knew–that I can’t hit the snooze button and get the full thing in AND my 15 minutes of traction per chiropractor’s orders, so I think I’m going to have to edge my alarm back 10 minutes while I acclimate.  With luck I won’t remember that I’ve done it and it will get me out of bed at 6 like I’m supposed to.

I’m also trying to find time to squeeze in at least a short one mile walk with Callie most days.  She had her annual check-up on Monday and my big fluffy has…well, chunked up.  To 111 pounds.  We have become woefully inactive since Daisy’s stroke because we hate taking  Callie since Daisy can’t go and looks so sad.  But take her we need to.  She needs to drop 11 pounds and get back into shape.  Hubby is planning to take her on his days off, so that leaves Monday-Wednesday or Thursday for me, depending on the week.  :eyes the schedule and wonders what can give:

Oh, and I promised to post a pic of the decorated tree.  We’re all festive and stuff.

Cleaning Up Between Books

Today is November 1st.  To those of you who NaNo, I salute you!

I often join in the frenzy, but this year I’m waiting on revision notes from my CPs and taking the time to dig out on multiple fronts.  I’ve been catching up on things I put off (down to just ONE assignment left to grade), and generally digging out of the pig sty my house often becomes during the last quarter of a book.  After work yesterday I finally had to brave the blustery, gusty winds of the cold front blowing in (it was a very atmospheric opening for something) to hose out the kitchen garbage can with soap and water, as something had spilled and gone nasty.  And since that was out, I got around to steam mopping the kitchen, after hubby vacuumed it.  We aren’t gonna talk about the state of the floors by my baseboards.  Started on all the bathrooms and got everything there clean except for the counters.  I still want to do a good move-everything-off-the-counter clean (kitchen and bath) and clean out the fridge.  And hubby will be vacuuming the rest of the house after we both do a general pick up of all the random crap we’ve left lying around on every horizontal surface.  We’re having people over later, so that’s a good kick in the pants to get that finished.  I’m even contemplating taking advantage of the cold weather and going outside to do some weeding and cleaning up of our flower beds, which are secretly a Sleestak habitat.  The cold means I can actually wear long everything and not die of heat stroke or welt up at the mere brush of everything green.

I hate that things get to this state, but I do kind of like the clean up.  The simple domestic is a sort of…moving meditation for me, in this case.  It lets me clear up my space and metaphorically clear up my brain, sweeping out the last book in preparation for the new.  I’ve got another Wishful-based Meet Cute (Piper and Myles) I’ll be starting on in the next day or two to keep my brain in town until I’m finished with revisions.  After those are done, I’ve got a palette cleansing project in the works.  And maybe a fun little contest to go along with it for those of you who care to take a guess about what it is.  The only thing I’ll say right now is that it’s unconnected to anything I’ve done before and should be hella fun.

There are other things that need doing around the house, other projects that we always put off until colder weather–like organizing our garage.  Because our last move wound up being in kind of a hurry, some things just got tossed in boxes not according to my OCD specifications.  The tools, garden, and garage stuff was one of the areas to suffer.  Plus once we got here, hubby’s dad gave him all kinds of workshop stuff he’d been holding until we had room for it.  So…yeah, in May we’ll have been here 3 years.  It is SO FAR past time to deal with all of this.

And then there are more fun kinds of projects I’d like to do.  I really want to us Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations on my master bathroom cabinets.  They’re currently just boring white stock cabinets.  I want to use the espresso, which will go really nicely with the sort of sand colored countertops in there.  It’s a weekend project…sometime.  I have a hard time getting to those because a) hubby reverts to his night owl instincts on his days off, meaning he’s asleep until 10 or 11 most weekends and then takes an hour or two to ingest enough coffee to become functional and b) I’m loathe to give up the 2-5k of words I usually get written on the weekends.  The bathroom is a pretty small project, so I might save that for Christmas break–something I can do while he’s at work.  Just throw on an audiobook and go to town.

I also need to start picking up some Christmas novellas or short novels to get in the mood, as it were.  I’m supposed to help my mom deck out her house for some something she’s hosting.  Normally I am all about Christmas and decorating but I’m feeling kind of Scroogy this year.  I think part of it is that Halloween has literally JUST PASSED and there’s been Christmas stuff in the stores for a month already.  And it was 80 last week.  It doesn’t feel like it’s TIME YET!  But I’m finally starting my Christmas shopping.  I’d like to have that done by the end of this month, so that all I have left is holiday baking of gifts to do in December.  And also to sort out what kind of holiday treats I can make for our house that are GF/DF since 99% of what’s going to be available at parties and such will be…neither of those things.  But hey, maybe I’ll make it through the holiday without gaining that 5 pounds I usually gain.

Opinionated Characters, Write or Die, and Looking For Crack

Candy corn in a jarIf this post title sounds disjointed, it’s really a good reflection of my brain just now.  It’s October 1st.  That means I am officially allowed to buy my ONE BAG OF CANDY CORN.  Candy corn and peanuts are a special favorite form of personal crack for me.  Hence I’m only allowed one bag.  A YEAR.  And if I eat all of it in 2 days…well, that’s it for the year.  I am jonesing like WHOA.

Between the excessive overtaxing of my brain during Hell Week here at the Evil Day Job, my shero has been yelling at me.  A LOT.  She informed me that the sequence after the black moment simply Would Not Do.  So I came up with an alternative last night that she’s still only partially satisfied with.  While I was updating my scrivener file at lunch with what’s to come, she looked at where I had another love scene right after Cam finally finds out the truth and is going “Are you kidding me? I am not just pissed about this. I’m hurt. Do you really think I’m going to forgive him that easily?” Um…no? What does he have to do? :crickets: of the “If you don’t know, then I’m not telling you” variety.  Thanks Norah.

I found out this morning that the new desktop version of Write or Die 2 has a reward setting, so that instead of the threat of your words disappearing, you can set it to reward you for every however many words.  With puppies.  Or kittens.  Or whatever.  What can I say, I’m motivated by pictures of baby animals.  So I picked up a copy (hey, $5 off since I’m a teacher!).  The one thing I have never liked about this program (apart from the fact that it can eat your words) is that it’s all plain text.  All these minimal distractions sorts of programs seem to be like that, and it bugs me.  When I wanna use italics, I wanna use italics.  I doubt I’ll use it much for my normal writing, but I hope to be able to use it for mini sprints to pad my daily wad.

Round 4 of ROW80 starts on Monday and despite the fact that ABSOLUTELY NOTHING CHANGES with my writing schedule when we’re off…I miss it.  I got the last of my sponsors today, so I need to do some set up for that in the next few days.

Back to the salt mines.

Taking On A New Hobby…Maybe

I’ve stayed quiet for the last few days, partly because I’ve been busy, partly because the interwebz has been taken over by poorly informed outrage over the Supreme Court’s decision regarding Hobby Lobby.  I’m not making a political statement one way or the other, but any time the media kicks up this much of a furor, it makes me wonder what political machinations the public is being distracted from.

But I’m not here to talk politics.

I’m getting ready to organize things for the start of Round 3 of A Round of Words in 80 Days, which begins on MONDAY.

I’m plugging away at TY (and finally got two thumbs up from The Hammer on the latest outline).

I’ve been reading a lot (but I’ll save that for Friday’s Fiction Round Up).

And I’m kinda, sorta, maybe thinking about getting back into martial arts.  Back in college I was on the university taekwondo team, and I was in the best shape of my life.  Lest you think that makes me some kind of badass, people compete at ALL belt levels.  I was, best I can remember, about halfway to my black belt when I stopped due to a falling out with my coach.  That was fifteen years ago.  Back in grad school, I did aikido, which I absolutely loved.  It was perfect for someone who’s small, like me.  I made some headway in that before I was forced to quit due to lack of time.  Because…grad school.  THAT was nine or ten years ago.

Okay, hang on, I’m having a moment that I started grad school a decade ago.  REALLY?  I could’ve SWORN it was YESTERDAY.

Anyway, I’ve never gone back, mostly for reasons related to time.  But every time I see a fight scene in a movie or on TV, I miss it.  Every time I write a fight scene, I miss it.  And a part of me has always been bothered by the fact that I never finished either of my black belts (being that I’m a FINISH YOUR SHIT kind of gal).  I have no delusions of being Gina Carano (kick ass female MMA fighter you may remember fighting Michelle Roderigez in Fast and Furious 6), but it would be good for me on multiple levels.  I don’t have a whole lot of time for a new hobby, so one that would replace some of my workouts would be a good trade off (I’d be going back to taekwondo due to the fact that the class fits in my schedule and because it’s a much better workout than aikido).  It would improve my flexibility, my body awareness (which is a good thing when you’re a natural klutz), and give me a much cooler reason for all the bruises I’m always sporting anyway due to running into stuff (see aforementioned klutzy tendencies–the walls, floor, and furniture HATE ME).

Obviously, after this long out, I’d be starting over as a complete newb, which is totally fine.  I need the build up.  Despite my consistent efforts to stay fit, my body does NOT move now like it did when I was 18–back then when I was actively training, I could ACTUALLY DO THE SPLITS.  These days the only splits I do are occasionally of my favorite pants.   And I’d need a new gi.  But hey, I actually still have all my sparring gear…somewhere.

So…that’s where my brain is right now.  I’m waiting to hear back from the school I contacted about how much the classes cost.

Midweek #ROW80 Non-Update and BOOK RECS

Yeah I totally have nothing to report since the last check in.  I haven’t even posted since Sunday.  Why?   Because there are some books that life simply has to stop for.

Last week, the 6th and final book in The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, City of Heavenly Firecame out.  I loved the first three.  Then she got a contract for a continuation–another trilogy following up the first.  I read books 4 and 5 and was…well I didn’t hate them, but I didn’t love them either.  I tend to be very >.< when a writer goes and messes up my hero and shero’s HEA or HFN.  But I read them anyway because I loved the characters.  And it didn’t matter how much I was kind of eh about books 4 and 5, this book just made up for all of it.  It so beautifully wrapped up the entire arc, had gobs of delightful crossovers between this and her other series, The Infernal Devices (set about 150 years prior in the same world).  And I just had to stop everything I was doing to finish reading it (in all it’s 700+ pages of glory)–because it became very obvious early on that Cassie Clare was totally high on Game of Thrones while writing this book and I was completely in fear for ALL THE CHARACTERS’ LIVES.  Scene after scene of, “How can I make this worse?  Oh yeah THIS!”  I can just imagine her cackling in delight while writing it, imagining we readers in palpitations.  But the end, OH THE END WAS SO WORTH IT.  And to avoid spoilers, that’s all I will say about that.  I had to tag Lauren Garafalo to have mutual flails when I finished (she finished day before me).

So, today it’s BACK TO WORK on TY.  It helps that the characters of Wishful keep talking to me.  And I keep talking about them talking to me, which is amusing Susan, and probably making anybody who doesn’t know I’m a writer think I need antipsychotics.  I’ve got a very active relationship with my characters.  What can I say?

I HAVE been doing some plotting in the midst of my great Read-A-Thon.  My next Mirus project is coming along nicely and shaping up to be an actual book, with a prequel short story (I think).  So we’ll see how all that goes.  I’m a long way from drafting it or even having a complete outline, but it’s nice to revisit the world and see pieces coming together that I had no idea actually were meant to go together.

I’m also working on plotting out something else.  Well, I hesitate to call it actual PLOTTING at this stage because I don’t feel like I HAVE a plot yet.  I have a CONCEPT, a story that has a particular type of relationship arc (between characters I established elsewhere) and an idea of some of the KINDS of challenges they might face, but I have no idea of the context.  I have no antagonist yet, which means I really have no idea what happens.  This is NOT AT ALL how I generally work, so I don’t know if a story will eventually emerge from this or not.  We’ll see.

In other news, I FINALLY HAVE RUNNING SHOES THAT FIT PROPERLY.  This is the 5th pair.  I discovered a local store here that does gait analysis and full fittings.  Big shocker, I don’t ACTUALLY measure as a wide, despite the monstrous spread of my feet (please explain to me, then, what is wrong with all the regular width shoes EVERYWHERE?).  I ultimately wound up in a MEN’S size 8 of the Asics Nimbus 15.  A friend recently told me she got fitted and went a full 2 sizes up from her normal size for running shoes.  So…evidently that’s a thing?   Had a great chat with the CSR about gear, and generally I am much much happier.  Also, they aren’t a weird color.

I’m preparing to redesign my weight lifting program.  I picked up the Girls Gone Strong Modern Woman’s Guide To Strength Training program a month or two ago, and I’ve tried it out and I just…don’t like it.  Some of it is that I prefer a good electronic app to keep up with my progress instead of paper and a lot of the exercises aren’t listed in any of the apps I use and aren’t easily trackable (there’s a lot of frustration in NOT getting credit for my workout on Fitocracy because there’s just no way to record the exercise).  And some of it is that it’s really geared toward those who have access to a gym instead of a home set up.  I’ve already had to make some substitutions there.  I hate the warm up.  I mean, a warm up is necessary, certainly, but I feel like the one that goes along with this program takes about twice as long as the actual lifting portion.  And a couple of the warm up exercises make things pop that…I don’t think should pop.   There’s one hip thing and a shoulder thing and…yeah, just no.  And I just…feel kind of meh about it and don’t look forward to lifting days.  So I’m going back to my Beautiful Badass program and making some adaptations using Nia Shanks’ Intuitive Strength Training Guide.

And, before I go, one more book rec.  I mentioned on one of my Awesome Things posts a while back Meljean Brook’s serial, The Kraken King and I haven’t said anything else about it.  Well the final installment came out this week!  So now you don’t have to wait (which I know a lot of people HATE about serials).  This is 200k of Iron Seas AWESOME.  It will particularly appeal to the writers among you (the women anyway) because the hero is just…OMG I can’t say enough about how much I <3 Ariq.  He is the perfect writer’s mate.  GO FORTH AND BUY IT.  Or, you know, hang out and wait until the compiled version comes out (not sure when that is yet).