Travels, reflection and where you lay your head

I’ve been traveling a lot lately. More than I usually do, which has led to some reflection.

The first trip was out to Oregon, to see my dad’s side of the family. My grandfather had died and I wanted to attend the funeral. I booked a plane ticket and rental car the day before the funeral and headed out. I hadn’t been back to Oregon, my birthplace, in probably 15 years. I tried so hard to remember the last time I’d been but I couldn’t remember. Too long.

The trip was bittersweet; I was here for a funeral, but I was going to see my cousins, aunt, dad, step-mom and grandmother; people I hadn’t seen in so many years. Unfortunately, the last time I’d seen my dad was for another funeral – his sister’s. Why is it that we only seem to see people for weddings and funerals? Continue reading “Travels, reflection and where you lay your head”


When life starts pulling you apart, what do you do? Until today, we were at a crossroads. Both of us had job offers come our way. Sounds great at first, but the jobs are not in the same place. One is out of state. The out of state job would have been much more of a challenge up front because moving takes a lot of time, effort and money, but it would have brought us closer to our family and friends, and most likely would have lent to a less chaotic life a large city provides. The other offer would keep us here where we are, and give a good pay boost (not as good as the other one), but would help out, and possibly help enough so that we can at least fly home every once in a while instead of driving 19+ hours. Continue reading “Crossroads”


The holidays always pose as a time of reflection and solitude, although sometimes the solitude part can be difficult in the mad rush of gift getting and travel plans. We decided to surprise the family with a trip up north. This included a lot of sneaking around questions, pretending the presents were on their way, and a 20 hour road trip with two dogs. We got Dylan’s brother in the loop so he could help us plan where to be. The look on my mom and his parent’s faces were priceless, and the feeling of being home during Christmas-time, was a feeling I haven’t felt in a long time. A feeling of warmth and contentment, even after an exhaustive trip. We realized again how important being near old friends and family is, and although it’ll be sad to leave Austin, with it’s nearly unlimited supply of restaurants, things to do and things to see, and usually great weather, but if you can learn to be content in any situation, decisions like these aren’t as difficult.

We decided to make the slow move to Omaha. Omaha, you say? Why you ask? I know I wrote a little before about Omaha, but expanding on it won’t hurt. I’m sure there’s a lot of people laughing or wondering why you’d move to a “flyover state”.

Well…Omaha is a good size city. Around a half million people and under a million with metro. The city did a good job prepping for growth, so the roads aren’t packed and traffic jams are rare. Here in Austin, they’re an everyday occurrence and something to be expected.

Omaha is 6 hours to home in Minnesota so getting to visit will be much easier and we won’t need to use so much vacation each time. It’s also 9 hours to Denver for rock climbing and hiking, 9 hours to Little Rock, where some friends of ours lives, and hours away to the badlands of South Dakota. Overall, being in the center of the country gives us a wider berth for more diverse travel. Yeah, we won’t be near a beach, but I think we can handle that.

Omaha’s cost of living is good. Housing costs are much lower in Omaha than Austin and overall prices of a night out on the town is lower as well. Getting to a nice restaurant (which there are many), is much easier and less stressful. In Austin, there are hundreds of great restaurants, but there’s usually a line, or it will take you an hour to get to it due to the terrible traffic. I’d miss the beer and bar scene here in Austin, but Omaha’s scene is starting to grow. There are a few good breweries there, as well as one of the nation’s top pubs in the nation. The job market is good and the pay for our lines of work is good, and actually a little better than here in Austin.

So there’s a few points in a nutshell. I’m excited, but nervous and scared. Big change is always nerve wracking for me, especially after spending four years in a new place. The thought of uprooting again feels exhausting, but if I think about what it will mean for us financially, personally, and even professionally, I think it will be a great thing. Fear will always be there. I just have to make sure it doesn’t control my decisions.


I’m dreaming of gray….literally

After talking with my new friends at, I’ve gone back on the browns and am once again leaning more toward gray. I still like the idea of warm gray, with a hint of brown, or at least without the cool blue tones. Deciding on a house color is definitely a tough decision because this decision lasts for years. Or at least it should. I’m nervous about going too dark, or playing it too safe and going too light. I want to feel great about the color I choose. Not just that it took so long to decide so I settled on one.

This picture I found, I believe originally off of HGTV’s site, is Iron Mountain by Benjamin Moore. I really like it but think it may be too dark. I even went to the Ben Moore store in town to grab a swatch. Staring at it made me nervous though. What if it was too dark and just made the house seem…dark, or uninviting. The inside of our house is very different; it’s very light and airy, but I think a dark exterior can look great too. Back and forth, back and forth goes my brain…. Iron mountain

I’m not an emotional, chatty person. I don’t need a group of girlfriends to chat with about how I’m feeling. But picking out a paint color made me want to talk to someone. I needed some therapy and guidance, so I did what any person would do. I went to Home Depot at 8pm last night because I couldn’t stop thinking about paint colors.

I brought my sample of Magnet and Porpoise along, as well as my swatch of Lamplit, the possible door color. I wanted to find a happy medium between the Magnet and Porpoise, and possibly a shade darker. I wasn’t doing a good job for myself, so I asked the lady at the counter, who immediately was distracted by my dog Arthur for the next five minutes. That’s okay. I was used to that and wasn’t in a hurry to leave the store. Not without my samples!


After opening up to the Home Depot lady and telling her my dreams of a color that was the trifecta of gray, brown and dark, she commited herself to helping me find that color. She reached under the counter and grabbed just about every swatch of color that was ever created. She immediately started going through grays, inspecting the shades to see if she could find something I would like.

I mentioned to her, besides the Magnet and Porpoise, that I’d been looking at Intellectual. She told me right away, no, that it was too dark and would give off too much brown. Okay then. No to Intellectual.

Sorry I got bug spray on the sample. Stupid mosquitos

While she looked through the color swatches to find my match, she got to work making a sample of Magnet for me. I have Grizzle Gray, a Sherwin Williams color, sampled on my wall at home, and although they’re very similar, I didn’t want to chance it and base my decision on a color that looks like another color. I can’t do that for a house painting job.

Magnet is a great basic gray. About as gray as gray can get. I’m just not sure yet if I want to go all out just gray.


Another of the samples that I already have is Porpoise by Sherwin Williams. It looks gray at times, but switches to brown in the light. We have a lot of light here in Texas (usually) so I have to think it’ll usually look more brown. If I paint my house a very dark color like Intellectual, would the sun absorb enough to put off more heat than a gray house like Magnet? Weird thoughts but I have them running in my mind.


I also asked her to make me a sample of Pier. They didn’t have a swatch I could take home, but I’ve seen it on two homes (online still), but it looked great. My only concern was that it had tinges of green. But green is warmer than blue so I thought, heck, for $3 it’s worth a shot.

After she got that sample going, it was back to the hunt for the perfect mix.

She grabbed another small book and fanned it open. She stopped quickly, grabbed my Porpoise and Magnet swatches and placed each one on either end of the sample. This color was about as close I was going to get to a mix between the two. It’s called Mined Charcoal, and the interesting thing about it? It’s actually in the same scheme as Intellectual, just one shade lighter. Small world in the vast world of color swatches! Here is is below…


I still don’t know if it’s the one but I feel like I’m getting closer and closer to finding a color I love and can commit to. Once I get some samples painted on my house, I’ll post some more pictures. Maybe I should just paint each side of the house one of my color choices? What do you think?

PS – I had night #2 of dreaming of house paint colors. The dreams are kind of the far out type, with swirls of browns and grays, sometimes in a big trough, and sometimes just swirling in the air. Either I’m going nuts or a decision needs to be made ASAP before I do end up going batty.

A weekend of productive planning

I didn’t get much done this weekend. I had this list of things I wanted to do, which included hanging up another new window blind and finishing up the entry tile, but none of that got done. But I’m okay with it because we did a lot of planning instead. Planning doesn’t immediately show results so sometimes it may feel like you didn’t do anything, but in reality, you did so much.

Saturday was wrapped up in volunteer work at the library, then a trip to the Pecan Street Festival to see Royal Teeth for free. The show was great and the people who showed up were entertaining. It was like the state fair but with more homeless people.

Sunday was all planning. We’d had a guy from a landscaping company come in and do some consulting for us on Friday, on how to improve our backyard. Right now, it’s uneven, rocky, and patchy. We have a very large deck that needs replacement, and a big shed that’s taking up more room than it’s storing stuff. He gave us some good advice on what to do and what not to do, so now we’re trying to figure out exactly how we want to tackle our backyard work.

We went to Treehouse, a very hippie-type green home improvement store. The prices are a little steep but they have a lot of neat stuff that gets the creative juices flowing. They sell everything from reclaimed wood, to recycled glass counters, to water barrels, metal roofs, solar panels and ceramic grills…which is where I lost my husband for about a half hour…

After Treehouse, we ventured to the more normy home improvement store of Home Depot. We looked at deck options as we’re currently trying to weigh between wood and composite. The current deck needs to be redone as it’s old, too big, and is not in good shape. We plan on cutting it down to about half size, to give us room for an outdoor kitchen and hangout space.

On top of this, we also finally decided on a color for the house. Of the three we were looking at, we ended up deciding on Porpoise, which funny enough, was the most brown of all the colors. I know I’d mentioned that I really liked gray, but that’s why you talk these things through before making any decisions. Usually, the more I talk out decisions, the better I feel about it. This color is great because it has a lot of brown tones, but depending on the light, definitely has gray in it as well.The two colors below are both porpoise, but at different angles.

aIMG_3821 IMG_4529

Half this deck will be gone and in it’s place will be a kitchen. Goodbye blue house, hello porpoise.

The husband also started drawing out some plans for the backyard. The bottom right of the picture shows our to-be shortened deck with chairs and a small table. To the left of the deck is the simple outdoor kitchen. and above it, the rectangle, is a picnic-type table. Currently that area right now is part deck and part grass. Once we downsize the deck (I can’t imagine what’s underneath it), we’ll even it all out and add crushed gravel. We also plan on making a fire pit area and vegetable garden to the far left, against our back fence.

Lots going on, and it’ll take time, but I’m excited for it. We’re working on something that’ll be a retreat for us, as well as a great place for friends to gather.


Next up is calling painting companies to see how much they would charge to prep the house for us to paint. I’m cool with painting the house, but the prep work is daunting on this house. If we can swing it cheap enough, we might just have someone take a few days to prep, so we can go in and just start painting.

My biggest project yet – tackling exterior paint

Our next big project is to repaint the exterior of the house. Normally I wouldn’t have any problem playing with colors, but this isn’t just a room. A room is a few days of work and $30. Painting a house is days of prep work, days of painting and multiple gallons of paint. It makes me a lot more nervous choosing colors.


I’d like to give the house a more modern look with either a dark gray or brown, with a craftsman style door, preferably in a bright color. At first, I had my thoughts on a gray brown, but the more and more I look around for inspiration, the more I’m heading toward the grays. But at the same time, I don’t want the grays turning blue.

I recently went to Lowes and grabbed a couple Sherwin Williams samples and tried them on the side of the house. Neither one blew me away. I liked the gray at first, but I think it has too much blue in it.

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Depending on when the light is shining on the side of the house, the brown looks like a rich dark brown, which is what I was looking for, or a lighter otter brown, which is nice, but  not what I’m going for. The gray sometimes looks great, but then starts to take on a blue tone, and I don’t know if that’s because the house itself is already blue, and pulls your eyes to the blue tones, or if the gray itself has blue undertones that will come out at different times during the day. I’m not sure if I want blue undertones. I’m thinking warm gray, not cool gray.

My inspiration of course comes from scouring the internet and Pinterest. I re-looked through all the websites I’d been saving and think I need to go back to the paint store. I’m going to pick up a couple more samples and try them out tonight. Painting the house is such a big effort that I want to feel confident when I start the actual painting process. I’m going to hit up Benjamin Moore after work and grab swatches. I don’t know if I plan on getting the paint there because 1) it’s a bit out of my price range and 2) a pro painter friend of mine said any good quality paints from Lowes or Home Depot are just as good. I think I’ll grab the swatches and see if Lowes or Home Depot can match.

Here’s some of my inspiration I’ve gathered over the past few months. It definitely seems as if I’m leaning more toward the grays. And why not? I love gray.


I love the idea of a bright contrasting door as well. We’re thinking of going with a craftsman style, honey yellow door.

midcentury-gray dk gray Benjamin Moore Iron Mountain

This last picture interests me. The sample looks like a rich charcoal gray, but on the house, it looks like it has quite a bit of brown in it. It’s called Iron Mountain and it’ll be one I pick up at Benjamin Moore. The others I’m going to grab are Mink and possibly Graphite, but that one looks like it may have some blue in it as well so I may pass.

Do any of you have house painting stories or advice? Do you have a color preference? Let me know. I’m all ears and eyes right now.



This is a vice of mine. I’m constantly comparing where I am to others. And I think it’s so much easier to do these days with facebook and instagram and other social media outlets. Sometimes, it seems that these methods are only to try to one-up the next person. Look at my new car! Look, I’m on vacation! Look at me! Look at me! These devices can be great with keeping in touch with others, but they shouldn’t be used as a bragging piece or as a complete replacement for keeping up with friends and family, and they certainly shouldn’t be used as a comparison piece for yourself.

Comparison to others is devastating to our mental health. Be happy for that friend who’s on vacation. They deserve it. Be happy for the person with the new car. The last one they had might have been a complete nightmare. It doesn’t matter how your car compares, or where you last went on vacation. Be happy for them and be happy for yourself. We are all individuals. We all have our ups and downs.

Comparison can also create isolationism. We see someone else’s successes, compare them to where we are, only seeing the negative aspects and not the positives, and many times, fail to acknowledge them with a congrats, or a good job. We feel jealous and therefore don’t feel like telling them we’re proud of their accomplishments. It hurts too much when we compare ourselves.

As advice to myself and to others: be happy where you are and where you are heading. If you want changes, make reasonable goals for yourself and don’t expect an overnight change. Congratulate your friends on their accomplishments. And be grateful for yours. We are all on this long, exciting and many times frustrating journey of life. Take the positive and humble road whenever you can.

Stop. And really think.

I’ve never thought of myself as a people-pleaser, but the more I think about it, I kinda am. I’ve been trying to think about what I want to go back to school for, if any, but sometimes I feel like I don’t know if I’m thinking thoughts for myself or for others. Work and the guard tells me I should get an IT degree. I really like numbers, number crunching, spreadsheets, and real, material things I can see. I like to analyze things, see what’s happening, look at trends. The kind of IT that people want me to get into involves routing, switching, codes…things I can’t see.  It’s something I could probably learn and be fine with, but I don’t know if IT is for me. I’ve learned a bit about it for the guard, but I don’t know if I want to make it a full-time gig, but just about everyone else tells me it’s what I should do. The influences around me are hard and heavy. They start to feel like my own thoughts, coursing through my brain, convincing me that they’re my own. I become conflicted, thinking maybe I should go get some IT degree, but then I think, is that really what you want, or is that what people want you to do? What do you actually want to do Michelle? Where do you want to work? What kind of environment? These are the questions I’ve been asking myself. The reason I even got into the IT field at all was because of the guard, but I don’t know if I plan on staying in for much more than the next 3-5 years. Then what? Do I still want to be doing IT stuff or doing something else?

This is when I have to stop. And really think. Really think for myself and what I want, not what other influences are telling me. I don’t want my job or career to be an obsession or anything I get to attached or emotional about because careers won’t make you happy, but I do want to make sure that whatever I do fall into, it was my choice and it’s something I’ll be content with later.

So I’m leaving my thoughts with me to shuffle and organize and stamp my own.