72 hours

Our house sold in 72 hours at more than we were asking for. I couldn’t be happier for that. I’m still sad to be leaving our house after nearly three years, which doesn’t seem long enough, but I’m grateful for the time I spent there and the lessons I learned while overseeing projects, as well as seeing to my own projects.

I can feel myself slowly disconnecting from my house, like a love relationship ending.

I just hope they treat you as well as I treated you….

While all of this was happening over the weekend, I actually had three phone interviews for jobs! While I’m ever so grateful for this, it definitely was a challenge to do this, while getting the house ready for multiple showings. I had to clean up the house, get it looking as perfect as possible, turn on all the lights, light candles, etc., get two dogs and a kitten in the car, and keep them happy for hours, all while trying to prep for potential jobs. Luckily two of the interviews I was able to complete before the first showing, but the third was in my running car with two dogs in the back, one cat in my lap, in a library parking lot. The dogs did a fantastic job staying quiet, and little miss Edith slept most of the time.

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Neurotic Stan to my right, beady eyed Arthur behind me, and Edith on my shoulder – right before my interview.

Two of the jobs interviews went well, and the third….I didn’t feel into the company so I think I’ll refrain from that one. I have a follow-up today on my favorite of the three (yay!) so here’s to hoping!!

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Nobody puts baby Edith in a carrier

Now that the house selling is over, we can rest a little more, and just enjoy the house while we have it for one more month. I want to relax in my house, spend time enjoying it, adding any last fun memories I can before I have to fully let go.

This weekend we will be exploring Omaha for houses. I have a list of potential homes we’d like to see, and hopefully we can see all of them, barring that they’re still available by the time we get up there.

Anyone know a great realtor in the Omaha area?? Anyone?

 

 

A home is more than a home

We are looking at listing our house next week. Typing that, plus packing up boxes into a storage unit, makes this feel very real.

I know I’ll miss friends. We’ve made just a few here, but they will be missed. I’ve found a new love of food, especially the smoked meat varietals. Texas knows meat, especially brisket. I’ve found a new love for beer. Austin can brew. I’ve learned to appreciate the hill country and it’s arid, green-dappled landscapes. I’ve learned what it’s like to be a proud Texan and love Texas. There’s a pride going on here that people make fun of sometimes, but only because they don’t understand it. I’ll always remember that.  Continue reading “A home is more than a home”

The longest DIY

I’m not even talking about the CISSP exam prep, but that is taking a seriously long time too. Either way, whether I finish the book or not, I’m taking the exam by the end of next month. While trying to schedule the exam, I spent over 30 minutes on the phone waiting for a human to answer, who told me I called the wrong number, but was nice enough to send me on the way to the right person. After that wait, I was told to email a generic email and wait/hold my breath/pray that someone will answer the email. You would think this company would have a better plan in place for people to take an exam (especially when they collect $600 when they do!).

But I digress…

I’ve been painfully slow on this DIY. Most of it is not my fault though. We are working on possibly selling the house (barring I can find a job – hire me please!). In the mean time, I’m working on some quick updates to make the house extra marketable. So far, I’ve painted a ceiling, cleaned up and repainted the fireplace, and have started the wonderful job of de-cluttering.

I’ve been wanting to paint the cabinets in the master bath white for some time, because I like white cabinets and then it would match our other bathroom renovation.IMG_3130

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I think it turned out pretty well so we wanted to go ahead and do the same to the Master: paint the cabinets, add hardware, change out the shower faucet, and frame the mirror.

We also decided to change out the medicine cabinet in the Master bath. It was too small and was too 80’s oak for me. This part of the project has definitely been the easiest so far. Thanks IKEA!

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The longest DIY part has been the main cabinets…and it’s mostly been because of weather. First it was too hot to paint. Temperatures during the day surpassed 100 and with the dew points, the heat index stretched into the 120 degree mark. I was able to sneak in a day or two in the morning or evening to spray a side or two, but it was going to take an excruciatingly long time. Then, although we got a much needed break from the heat, we got rain. And a lot of it. And it hasn’t stopped yet.

Next problem: I painted the main cabinet and towel storage cabinet with a wonderful high gloss cabinet paint in Ultra White by Behr. I spray painted the doors in a gloss by Rustoleum. I didn’t realize how much more white the Ultra White was  until I was ready to put the cabinet doors up. They almost looked gray. I felt like Clark W. Griswold when he found out instead of a bonus check, he got a one -year subscription to the Jelly of the Month Club.

So I went to the store and bought three more spray cans of paint in hopes that one would be more white than the other. I did find one, another Rustoleum actually, that was more white and will do as a redo for the small cabinet doors. The tall doors for the towel storage cabinet will have to be hand painted unfortunately as they’re directly in light and noticeable any other way. So once I can get a dry day, I’ll be able to finish this project.

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You gotta love Contact paper

 

 

I’ll post some finished pictures once that happens.

Until then, it’s washing trim, packing boxes, and studying for this damn exam.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books & Booze

We went on a mini vacation/anniversary trip to the Hill Country. It was about as perfect as one could make it. The weather was perfect, the town was small and quiet, and the food was delicious.

We stayed at a B&B in the town of Comfort and spent a lot of time just sitting quietly, relaxing, and wandering. It’s something we forget to do, or leave to do at the end of the day, once we’ve run out of time. Continue reading “Books & Booze”

Crossroads

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”

Lost Maples Nature Trail

Friday was a good day to get away from the city and plant ourselves into no-signal land. After work, we quickly finished packing up, grabbed the pups and headed out of town. Three hours later, we landed in Lost Maples Nature Trail, set up camp for the night, cracked a beer or two in front of a small fire, then proceeded to bed.

I had been in charge of most of the packing, as I was working from home that Friday, but I failed a bit in the food department. Continue reading “Lost Maples Nature Trail”

Importance

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.

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Natchez Trace Parkway Pt.6: To the End

Our last stretch of the Trace was from David Crockett State Park to the terminus at mile marker 444. David Crocker State Park is a great park for the hike-lovers. There were multiple different hiking routes you could take with trees marked with a designated color dot to help you navigate your way. Even with the color-dotted trees unfortunately, we zigged instead of zagged and took a much longer route than we had originally inteded. We planned on being on a trail for about 30 minutes, but ended up walking for around an hour and a half, and hiked around three and a half miles. Ah well; it was well worth it. We saw some very beautiful Tennessee country and the weather was good, although it did start to chill down once the sun went down.

It’s easy to start imagining yourself in a wooden cabin on a hill, surrounded by thick woods, cup of coffee in hand, and warm fire in the fireplace when hiking through the parks of Tennessee. I don’t know if I could become a complete recluse but if any place makes me want to become a hermit, it’s this area of the country.

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I love some of these photos, but even the photos don’t do the scenery real justice. Sometimes I want to take a snapshot in my mind and keep it there for when I need to get away. I want to crawl inside this memory, feeling, seeing, and smelling all that was, but the colors and the smells and the cool breeze on my face can never truly be replicated.

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We realized how far we’d gotten off the path when we ended up on a paved road near the Trail of Tears. I’m glad we did though. We found an informational section about the Trail of Tears, and saw this beautiful site of cows grazing on their evening meal during the sunset (below). There was an artist’s rendition of the Trail of Tears and the people who walked among the worn down path. It invoked one imagining the stark quiet among the trees, even with hundreds crossing this path at one time, only the sounds of shuffling feet in the dried, dead fallen leaves. The absent look in these people’s eyes as they were forced to move from their homes to another part of their country. Everything they knew, changing, and not knowing who these people were, why they were doing this, and if they were capable of other things.

History is sometimes hard to look back on, knowing the harm we caused, but if we don’t look back and learn what we did wrong, and what we can do to never do it again, we will never grow and change. DSC00891.JPG

The next day we took off for our last bit of site seeing on the Trace. We stopped off  at the Meriwether Lewis grave site. There was a tall stone grave with a post explaining Lewis’s death, or the lack of information thereof. A couple of interesting items I discovered while at this site: The first was that Mr. Lewis was very young when he died, around 34 years old. This also meant that this guy was discovering new lands in new parts of the world in his 20s. That’s quite the ambitious guy. What is also interesting about him is that, to this day, his death is considered mysterious. DSC00907.JPG

The grave itself is a depiction of a broken column, a life ended tragically and too soon.  According to the Smithsonian Magazine, he was passing through this area, on his way to Washington D.C. to settle some financial matters, but was found by his traveling companion with a gunshot wound to his head and abdomen. His companions assumed suicide because he had been known to suffer “depressions of the mind”. Perhaps he had some sort of bipolar disorder? Apparently Lewis, a young, innovative explorer, with all of his explorations and discoveries, felt like a failure, as he hadn’t fulfilled his initial goal of creating a successful system of trading posts. These trading posts had started to fail once he’d gotten back home, and he fell into depression and drunkenness.

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But a lot of people don’t believe this story and believe there’s more to be told. One of the biggest question marks, is why did he shoot himself twice? He was an expert marksman, very familiar with guns. Why would he need to shoot himself twice? People that question his suicide have come up with a multitude of theories, anything from an assassination plot, to the innkeeper finding his wife in bed with Lewis. Currently the Smithsonian is working on developing more facts with DNA. Who knows if we’ll ever know the full and true story about him, but any clarification always helps.

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Our next stop was an old tobacco farm, donated to the trace by an old farming family. There was a display of an old barn with real tobacco leaves drying. The tobacco process was much more time consuming than many other farming ventures, as the labor of hanging the tobacco, and the time it took to dry it all took up valuable resources, but it must have paid off because the industry remains today.

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We took a nice hike at the Duck River Overlook, to catch some great views. We’d planned on going down the Jackson Falls route as well, but the dogs were wearing out so we headed out to the next spot instead.

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The Gordon House was our next stop. It’s one of the few houses left standing from that day and just shy of 200 years old, so understandably, you were not allowed into the home. What’s neat about this home is that its owner, John Gordon, worked closely with General Andrew Jackson. He was away from the home much of the time due to this, so his wife overlooked and supervised much of the construction. Possibly the first woman foreman? Pretty sweet.

You go girl.

She also outlived her husband by about 40 years. DSC00947.JPG

We stopped at a small place to rest, and I was able to capture some wonderful scenery at the bottom of the hill. This is probably one of my favorite photos. I felt transported in time, and placed right into a painting of Courier & Ives.

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Our last “stop” on the trip before its end was the Birdsong Hollow, which is a beautiful double-arched bridge, that actually won a national design award in 1995. We approached the lookout and I noticed a woman with her back to us. She looked serene, like this was a place she came to often, to gain a sense of peace and quiet. Unfortunately, as we were quietly making our way up to observe the bridge, my dog sneezed loudly and scared her. She jumped and looked back, but just laughed and went back to her relaxation.

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Once we crossed the bridge, we had a handful of miles to go until the end of the Trace. I was really hoping for a photo op right at the end, like on roller coasters, when they take a snapshot of you screaming as you’re catapulted down at 60 mph+. No such luck unfortunately. That was just the end.

Our last couple of days on the road were much less eventful We stayed at Meeman-Shelby State park, on the north side of Memphis, but we got there late at night, and left early, so no pictures were taken or hikes walked, so I couldn’t give you much of a review.

We stopped in Little Rock to visit some friends who lived there and ate at a dog-friendly hamburger place called the Purple Cow. The food was good, and it was kind of nice to be able to just order food and eat it, instead of having to cook and clean up on a make-shift kitchen.

We then trekked to White Oak State Park, our last park of the trip. This park was loaded with people, and the vast majority were hunters.

We got some great pictures of fall colors, cranes, and other wildlife, and the camp was full of friendly people, so overall the quick stay was pleasant. This park definitely felt like one that was mostly made for hunters just needing a place to stay, instead of something like Tishomingo, which was made more for recreation and hiking. The bathrooms here were very nice, most likely built within the last 5-10 years, and were heated well (which was good as this was our coldest night of the week).

 

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We got the trailer back to the owner around noon, and were back in Austin by 4pm. We napped in our own bed, which felt amazing, then heading to a concert that evening.

If you are looking for a great, easy going road trip, to reinvigorate your love of the country, I highly recommend it. You can take it slowly, like we did, averaging around 80-100 miles a day, or you can go quicker if you want, but with all the stops and the history, I definitely recommend a nice slow trip through this historic area.

 

Road trip chaos

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We’re taking a road trip next week to visit friends and family up in Minnesota for a wedding. I’m excited to see friends and family again, and to see Minnesota, but to be completely honest, I’m not too excited about everything leading up to, and including the 20+ hour car ride.

Sometimes the prep involved in a road trip needs it’s own vacation. I have at least three stores to hit up, plus the library (don’t want those late fees!) just today. Hopefully this will knock out most of the errand running for the week. The rest will be trial runs of packing to see what we can fit where. Besides wedding gear and Minnesota clothing, which, due to the weather up there, will include everything from shorts to sweaters, plus, try not to forget, climbing gear. We plan on meeting with a friend to go indoor rock climbing in the cities when we’re down there. I really hope we’re able to go rock climbing. Usually when we visit, we drive up, try to meet with every person we can in a whirlwind of roads and faces, but stopping to enjoy some climbing while catching up would be amazing and refreshing. The hubs and I have also shared a google calendar (Thank You Google), to schedule the week while we’re up there. Since the hubs is in the wedding, he has a couple more responsibilities so we have to make sure he meets those, while meeting with everyone who wants to see us and who we want to see, plus of course, the parents. Luckily our parents live in the same small town, so driving back and forth to see them won’t be too bad. Did I mention the wedding is actually in Wisconsin? Yeah, so we’ll be crossing even more state lines, even while we’re vacationing.

And I haven’t even talked about the kids (i.e dogs). We’ll have to pack bowls for food and water, and coordinate with the parents to watch them while we’re at the wedding.

Uffda! (Haven’t lost my MN expressions yet).

This is just scratching the surface of work to do this week (not to mention I have a full time job), and I’m sure, for all you road trippers, you’re nodding your head at this, thinking, mmmhmmm…. yep..oh yeah.

I’m a list maker, and trips drive me crazy because my brain goes into list-making overdrive. I have a bullet journal, with a list in it, plus a big 4×6 sticky note on top with a list, and in my book I’m trying to finish (so I can return it to the library today), it has two sticky notes with lists on it. I have lists of stores I need to visit, things I need to do, things I need to pack, and things I need to remind the hubs to do.

Uffda again.

*breathing slowly*

I’m going to consolidate lists (I recommend this to anyone) and make it into a timeline so it doesn’t feel so overwhelming. The more I can knock out today, the less I have to worry about as the week goes on.

If you have any road trip advice, I’d love to hear it. This is definitely not our first rodeo up to MN from TX, but I’d love to hear any advice you have.

Needless to say, I’ll try to be on to post when I can, but I’m guessing it’ll be a couple of weeks before we’re back and making more progress on the house.

Happy blogging all!

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Planters on the road, spiders in my garage

You never truly know how your day is going to turn out, even if the majority of it is like any other. I went to work just like I do every day. I went for a walk before lunch, like I do almost every day. But today was slightly different, and maybe a precursor to the rest of the day. As I walked by one of the homes, I came across a big wooden box. It was tilted, half of it on the road and half on the boulevard, with it’s castors left in the box, one broken. It was lying in a gesture that said, “Free to anyone that wants it”, and it felt like it was speaking directly to me. It wanted a new home. I was pretty excited. My next outdoor project includes creating some raised bed gardens for veggies and herbs. I walked back to the office at a quicker pace than I normally would, and asked a co-worker if he would help me load it into my car. He said he would so we drove over to the house and grabbed it. I felt that someone would snatch it up soon if I didn’t so I had to act quickly. The rest of the day was the same as usual, but I was in a pretty good mood, just for the fact I had a new planter in my car. I ran some errands after work and headed home to work on some more painting before I lost any day light. The forecast for rain had actually decreased so I wanted to get out and work on the entry some more.

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Today though, was going to be a bit different…again. I went out to the garage to get my supplies when I saw something I didn’t recognize. I crouched a little closer and then backed up immediately once I realized what it was. I had a tarantula in my garage. I knew they lived here in Texas but had never seen one in person. At first it was scrunched up tight, looking almost like a big, wilted leaf. I took the broom and swept some dog hair out of the way (don’t judge) and he all of a sudden came to life and expanded himself (or herself, I didn’t bother to ask). Please don’t judge the fur. My garage isn’t that terrible but he happened to be in the corner where the dog and cat fur congregates.IMG_4859 IMG_4862 IMG_4866And in case you’re all curious (and if I have any members of PETA on my site), the bugger was not harmed. I got him swept into a bucket and the hubs brought him across the street to a boulevard. I even let a mom and her son know about it when they were taking a walk, and they brought dad back to look at it and take pictures, so it turned into an entertaining, learning experience for the evening for a number of us. 

You just never know how your day will turn out. I definitely did not plan for a tarantula in the garage.