Monday, April 21, 2014

How Not to be an Idiot...

Alternate title:  Simple steps for your next home improvement project

This is one of those posts that you are going to need some context to know why I am giving steps on how to avoid being an Remodeling Idiot.

Extra, Extra, Read all about it.. Get your Context, here.

The majority of today's post is sponsored by the National Sarcasm Society, of which I am a long time member.

Tip #1.  DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT paint over hinges.  Just say no.  Abstain.  Stay clean, your hinges, that is.  Take the pledge.  What?  You've never heard of the pledge.  I'll let you in on it.  Raise your Right hand and say the following resolutely, "I, (state your name), do so promise never, let me repeat, never to paint over hinges of any kind."  I promise you, your life will be enriched and my sanity saved, if you will just take the pledge.

Tip #2.  Agree ahead of time what you are calling your tools.  I believe the item below is a paint stripper, but others call it a putty knife.  Avoid confusion, talk before hand, it will save time in the long run.  FYI, you do not have to call them by their proper names, as long as you are in agreement of the name.
The tool in question....if you call it a stripper, refrain from tucking dollar bills in it...

Tip #3.  If for some reason, you encounter a hole in your wall, or thru accident or otherwise, you create a hole in your wall, DO NOT use cork to cover it.  Also, DO NOT use a mirror, painting, photographs, wallpaper, or any other flat item that can be hung on a wall.  Just to be on the safe side, DO NOT use non flat items as well.  After my adventures, I am not leaving anything to chance.  Your only acceptable option is this--Patch the hole.  I promise it is not scary, hard, complicated, or a 20 step process that only a genius with a PhD in home remodeling can do.

You can do it.  I believe in you.  And just as importantly, I am going to show you how.

Take that in for a moment, I, Melissa, am going to show you how to patch a hole in your wall.

And what is even better, you do not have to have a bunch of expensive, never to be used again tools to do it.

Are you ready?  Mentally prepare yourself for the steps in a hole less experience for your walls....

Step #1.  Swear, cry, and bemoan your fate at finding or creating your hole in the wall.  Let it out.  Remember that kid that made you cry when you were five, take this opportunity to let that out as well.

Step #2.  Feel better now?  Good.  It's time for a trip to the Home Depot, Lowe's, or hardware store of your choosing.

Step #3.  You've battled traffic and made it to the store.  Congratulations!  The hard part is over.

Step #4.  Find the paint area.  Locate the following items
              1.  A Patch, large enough to cover said hole.

Turn your head sideways and see the patch  I used.
            2.  A Spackling Compound.  It will be near your Patch.
Added bonus, this one goes on PINK!!!
             3.  Something to spread your spackling...  I used an old paint stripper and a spatula.
             4.  Sandpaper to smooth said spackling.
             5.  Oh, wait, you don't need anything else.

Step #5.  Read the directions on your patch.  Are you ready for what was on mine?  Sand around the hole and make smooth.  Remove the paper backing from the patch and apply over hole.  Press firmly.

Oh, the horrors,  it was awful.  I had to take multiple breaks.  I need therapy from the hardship of it all.  Truth be told, going to Home Depot took longer and was more trouble.

Step #6.  Apply your Spackling over the patch.  You do not have to apply it with the skill of an Italian Master working on a chapel ceiling, but on the other hand, complete lack of care does not work either, moderation is the key in this step.  The key is to cover the mesh on the patch and attach it to the wall.  It doesn't have to be pretty or even, in fact the more you mess with it, it will start to fall off, it does not have to be perfect.   My one tip, go at least an inch past your patch and taper as you go out.  After saying all of this,  Do not stress over this step.  I slather it on pretty thick, because I would rather have more to work with when it dries than not enough.

Isn't this just lovely.  Notice the pink!  It's ok it's not even.

Step #7.  Go to bed.  Take a nap.  Ponder your life.  Kill some time.  Call a friend.  But most of all, leave your spackling job alone.  It needs some time to itself.  Ok, it just needs to dry.  Minimum time of 24 hours drying. The one I bought turns white when it is dry.  Idiot proof.

Step #8.  Are you hanging in there?  Do you still believe you can do this?  I BELIEVE IN YOU!  Don't give up.  And prepare to get a little dirty.

It's time to sand your spackling.  Smooth it out.  Go slow.  Take your time.  When you are done, the area is ready for primer.  You are creating the illusion on a single piece of wall, but don't be intimidated, because it is not hard.  I promise.  And if worse comes to worse and you do not like your results, go back to step #6 and add more spackling.  It's ok, and I won't tell, and if it makes you feel better, it took me 2 applications to get it to look right.  I am still working on it because after I patched the wall, I realized that the area where the hole was was not level with the rest of the wall, so I am building it up, but the hole is done.

Step #9.  Celebrate your new status as a PhD in Home Remodeling.  Throw a party.  But then, paint your wall!!!!

Ok, it's time to end this tangent and go back to the tips....

Tip # 4.  Apologize for the tangents that you go on during your remodeling projects that drive your friends and family members to roll their eyes when they unsuspectingly ask how it is going.

Tip #5.  Do your homework.  Ask questions.  Find out how to do it right the first time.  I am not afraid to ask multiple and quite possibly very dumb questions at my home improvement store.   Stalk your family and friends who have tackled the project you are undertaking, actual experience is more valuable than any book or Pinterest (which probably gave you the insane notion you could do the project in the first place).  In asking a fairly simple question today, I got an amazing tip for the tile portion of my project and a time saving one for sanding.  Just ask.

Tip #6.  Consider hiring someone to do it for you.  If after asking all of those questions, making a plan, looking at your schedule, making a shopping list of EVERYTHING you need so you don't end up running to the store every 5 minutes, and figuring out your budget, you may find that this DIY project is not for not feel bad about hiring someone to do all of the project or parts of the project.  I am terrified to do anything involving electricity, so I am having a handyman install the new light fixture.  I also do not have all of the tools necessary to cut my mirror and build a shelf in my cabinet (it's going to be so cool, a way to use otherwise wasted space), so he will do those as well.  Sanity, time, and money saved in the long run.

Tip #7.  Do not ever forget that this is supposed to be an enjoyable experience.  Hard work, yes.  A little time consuming, you betcha ya.  But don't be miserable and become an Idiot by your behavior.

Tip #8.  Do not expect this to go exactly as planned.  I was having a frustrating day with this project yesterday and complained about it on Facebook and a friend of mine gave a great piece of advice.  Home improvement projects are like onions....they have many, many layers and not all of them are in great shape.  Keep your sense of humor....  Breathe... and write multiple blog entries about it....

Are you ready to call be Bob Vila now? or whoever is hot on HGTV?  I've got home improvement skills and I am not afraid to use them.

Finding humor in it all.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

I am Surrounded by Idiots...

Alternate Title:  My bathroom remodel update.

I am finally moving forward and making progress on my bathroom remodel.  Remember when I blogged about it here?  July of 2013 was the start date. hahahahahahahaha...

First, I ran into problems getting the hinges off the bathroom cabinet.  Some Idiot had not just painted over the hinges, but with multiple coats.  It took 3 applications of paint thinner to be able to get a screwdriver head into the groove and loosen the screw.  I took a very long break from the project during this time and started to wonder if I could really do it or if I even wanted to.

painted over hinges, DO NOT DO THIS!

I don't want you to take this the wrong way, but in my opinion, if you do not tape off, cover, or remove hinges and the like and you paint over them, you might be a remodel Idiot.

Jump forward to today and I am finally ready to sand and prep the cabinet for paint!  Happy Day, right?

Not exactly.

I got my handy little sander out and went to town.  I did two applications of sanding with two different grits.  If the Idiots who had painted the cabinet, in the most unfortunate color of pink/peach, had done ANY prep and had taken even the least amount of care, a sanding with a grit in the 180-200 range just to get the gloss off would of been fine, but are you starting to see a trend here?

Yep, you guessed it, there were different numbers of coats on different areas; there were dribbles of paint that they did not even try to smooth out; you name a painting error and I ran into it.

After staring at this project for months now, I was prepared for most of it.  It still drove me crazy, but I was at least prepared for it.

What I was not mentally prepare for was the next issue I ran into.  (hold me, I'm still traumatized.)

Have I mentioned that the Idiots painted the door molding the pink/peach color too?  I still do not understand the logic of this one....But at this point to question the Idiots would be pointless, so I'll just continue.

A little description of the bathroom needs to happen now to understand what happens next.  It is long and fairly narrow, so when you walk in, the cabinet and counter space are right next to you, and if you keep going you will run straight into the tub.  Above the length of the cabinet is a mirror.  It is wonderful and large. (handy, for doing hair and checking outfits in different angles).  It is going to be modified during the process, but that is a story for another day.  What you need to know now is this, right as you walk in the door to the left above the counter, the wall was covered in cork.  It basically turned that little portion of the wall into a cork board.  I hung my calendar, headbands, quotes, and other fun stuff from it rearranging as I wanted without damaging the wall.  It was one of the few items in the bathroom I sort of liked.  It ran right up next to the molding on the door, so when I planned this adventure, I knew it would be going.

How bad its leaving was going to be, I had no idea.

The cabinet was now sanded and ready for primer, so I turned to the molding and soon realized that the cork was going to have to leave immediately.  I couldn't sand the molding with the cork bumping up next to it.  I naively assumed that some care had been taken in putting it up on the wall and that it would be a quick and easy removal.

They took adhesive and slathered the drywall with it and then attached the cork.  By itself, this would of been bad enough, but the Idiots were not done with testing my sanity.  They had used the cork to cover a hole in the wall.

Can I cry now?
the discoloration is the adhesive, the gaps are an added bonus.
the butchered remains of the cork.  Notice the awful color of the tile in the background.
Here is the thing that sent me outside for a moment of meditation and breathing, patching a wall is a simple, SIMPLE process.  Most of the time of the project is in the drying of the compound.  Trust me, it is not hard and you can learn how to do it by reading the 4 step process on the package.  Don't be an IDIOT and cover a wall with cork just to cover a hole.

A trip to Home Depot was now in order, partially to give me more time to calm down, but mainly to get the material to get the adhesive off and the patch kits for the wall.  I had no idea how to get adhesive off drywall, so I asked for help in the paint department and the guy said, "What Idiots..." and told me the stuff I would need.

I'll finish the post with this,
home projects can take a lot of time, but the key to success and not becoming an Idiot, is this.

DO NOT SKIMP on the prep work.  Yes, I know, it is tedious and sometimes not very fun, but if you do it right, your final results will be amazing.

(a little side note about the photographs, I shot in full auto mode, so they are not the best quality.  I prefer to save beautiful photos for people and landscapes.)

Oh, and one more little detail, if you come over in the next couple of days, this is your bathroom door.
notice the mickey mouse duct tape...
For added fun, it does not reach the floor.

Looking for my sanity and a little privacy.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A bunch of stuff...

I haven't written in a while...
I've been having thoughts about what to write, but they don't seem to be enough for an entire blog, so I have not done one.

Well, that ends today with a Random Thoughts blog.

It will be disjointed.
It will be random.
It will be ok.

1.  I love to read and discover new authors, but get very frustrated when I LOVE the first book I read by an author and then am bored to death by the next two by the same author.

2.  I quit playing Candy Crush on my phone for a couple of reasons.  Do you know much time was being sucked into that game?  Too Much. And, more importantly, I found out it was ripped off from a guy who had invented it for his mom who was battling cancer.  Why would I play the ripoff after hearing that?

3.  I started taking American Sign Language classes last week.  It is something I have always wanted to do and finally found a class that works with my schedule.  I can sign the alphabet, numbers up to 10, yes and no, and the phase, "Hi, my name is Melissa.  Nice to meet you."  Not bad for my first week!  And here is a bit of useful information, the deaf community prefers Deaf or Hard of Hearing (if there is some hearing ability).  They consider Hearing Impaired an insult.

4.  Even though, we did not have a hard or exceptionally snowy winter, I am ready for spring.  I am having a hard time, however, getting motivated for the projects in my yard however.

5.  Remember how I was redoing the bathroom?  I talked about it here.  I have yet to get the doors off of the cabinet.  I now have VERY VERY strong opinions about people who paint over hinges.  I got sooooo frustrated by the whole situation that I stopped even thinking about it for a while.  I have a plan, it involves paint stripper. grrrr.

6.  Humphrey has not had another seizure!!!!!  I am still in Overtime and enjoying every moment of it.  He has a fatty tumor, non cancerous, under his right front leg, but I am treating it with essential oils, since surgery is not an option for him.  He is slow on walks, but still HAS to go out every day and generally loves his life.

7.  I have gotten into Essential Oils.  I think it is just the evolution of eating better, cleaning without toxic chemicals, and a hopefully environmentally friendly lifestyle.  I use DoTERRA oils and am now a Independent Consultant.  If you are interested in them, let me know.

8.  For the current season of the Utah Symphony/Opera, I bought a mini 6 performance pass.  Five of them were for the Symphony, but one was for the Opera.  I saw La Traviata in January.  I fell in love.
With Opera.  Me, who always said that the women always sounded like they were screeching, fell in love.  I ended up getting tickets for Turandot and it cemented my love.  Ironically, I still am not a fan when just listening to a cd of the women, but when you combine the live performance with the set and pageantry of it all, I'm good to go.

9.  I am still doing pretty well on my New Year's Resolutions.  YA!  There is one that may end up being tweaked, but I can not figure out how.  It's one about finishing projects in a timely and sane manner.  I'm struggling to figure out how to complete items but take the pressure off of having to get it done.

10.  I am very hard on myself when I make a mistake.  It is one of the things that I struggle with and continue to work on.  I spiral. And then spiral some more. Until in my mind, everything is wrong.  This past week has been a summary of that.  Spiraling and working on it and getting help and coming back.

So there you have it,
my life in the past little bit in a nutshell.

Progress and regression.
Frustrating and Wonderful.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

It's in the Cards?

I took one the of the more off the wall items off my Bucket List today.

I had a Tarot Card reading.

There is a wonderful store in Salt Lake City called "Dancing Crane Imports" that I go to find candles and unique home items or gifts.  I was in there this week and noticed today they were hosting a Psychic Fair.

Yep, I'm in....

There were a lot of different options for the readings--who knew there were so many different types of energy/psychic reading options?  I went with the basic Tarot Card reading.

I was a little nervous not really knowing what to expect, but it turned out to be very cool.

It was on point for what was going on in my life and the interpretation of the cards made a lot of sense for me.

Will I do it again?  Yes...
It was a fun afternoon out and not expensive.   I would also like to have my palms read and also have a psychic readings. (I just find all of it very interesting.)

I will not, however, use them to figure out my life or what to do.  I will use it as a fun and somewhat educational experience about myself.

Read by a Tarot Deck

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A bit of the Blahs......

It's funny when I was making my New Year's Resolutions and the list was getting longer and longer, one of the items I wanted to take off the list was Find Balance in my Workouts.

I thought I had that down, so why was it keep popping up as a Resolution and one that WOULD NOT  go away?

This post is the reason why...

After my marathon and trip in January, I took about a week and a half off from working out.  I walked the dogs, but that was about it.  I was exhausted, and thanks to that foot that fell asleep during the race and a slip on the ice when I got home, I had a fatigued tendon in my ankle, no long term damage, but I needed to pamper it for a bit.

As a result, all of my motivation and excitement for working out was gone.

The schedule that had guided my life for almost 10 months was no longer needed.  I had completed my goal.  Yes, it was amazing and wonderful, but what I have been struggling with is this....

Now what?

It turns out that my Finding Balance in my Workouts was not only about getting all of the activities I love in, but more importantly......

Working out without a major goal in mind.

Yes, I know, my long term health is a goal, but it's not as exciting as running your first 5K, 10K, Half or Full Marathon.

I've been struggling with working out on those days when I am tired and the couch looks oh soooo comfortable and the Olympics are on or any of the other excuse that is easy to find.

The crazy thing is this....whenever I break thru the excuses, I always feel good and never regret the workout, even when my muscles are quivering from fatigue from a tough workout.

I need to find joy in the routine, in the little gains of strength, in breaking thru the plateaus of weight loss, and in the long term positive effects on my health.

I need to break thru the Blahs.......
and Just Do It.


Saturday, February 1, 2014


I heard on the radio the other day that by the end of January, most people have already given up on their New Year's Resolutions.

This makes me sad.

You do not have to be perfect in your quest of your resolutions, you just have to stick with them.

For example, remember mine of getting cards out in a timely manner?

My Thank You cards for Christmas got mailed on January 25th.
My nephew's birthday card, however, got to him before his Birthday.

Progress, with some work to do.....
But I'm not giving up on my Resolution!

Another one...
Finish projects in a timely manner.

I have not finished the project that made me do this resolution.

And one more..
my yoga practice is coming together.  I've been doing the Sun Salutation every morning and will start classes at one the studios I talked about.

Resolutions are about the progress along the way and the things you learn.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Letting it Sink in...

On January 12th, I completed a goal.

A big goal....a goal that was fairly high on my Bucket List.

One that I had been actively working on for over nine months.

One that I had first made when I was a Senior in High School, but had to let go of for a while.  I got the idea when about a month before graduation, a teacher was asking us what we wanted to accomplish in our lives that was not related to work or family.  He listed a bunch of things, but only one item stood out.  Run a Marathon.  This quickly went out the window as a not going to happen item, when five days after Graduation, I had the first of three knee surgeries.  After the third one, I was told due to tight hamstrings, weak quadriceps, and bad form, I needed to stop running.


Twenty years later, things had changed.  My hamstrings while still a battle to stay loose are better; my quadriceps are stronger; and most importantly, a trainer helped me to change my running strike.  I was a toe runner, basically, never having a heel strike.  Not good, as it added strain to my knees.

As documented here, I started with a 5k and permission from my knee surgeon.  I progressed slowly and with no pain.  The twenty year gap was needed, but not for the reasons I thought.

I had a training plan that physically seemed possible and gave me some extra time.  The part I did not expect was the psychological aspect.  It was tougher and harder than the physical part.

This is where that 20 year gap came in handy.  I had toughened up, gotten more dedicated when things went wrong, and been introduced to meditation.  In fact, if you recall, in 2013 I had set a resolution to meditate every day.  There are decisions that when you look back on them seem really really smart, and this was one of them.  I wish I could say that I knew the effects meditation would have on my running, but I had no clue.

I picked the Walt Disney World Marathon in Orlando, Florida on January 12, 2014.  I picked it for a couple of reasons--#1.  It is recommended for runners as a good beginner marathon.  #2.  I love Disney and the course went thru the four parks.  #3.  It was a fairly flat course.  I found out that running downhill for an extended period of time bugs my knees.

Training was at times frustrating, exhilarating, tiring, and energizing.  It ran the spectrum of emotions.  I started to struggle once my training runs were past 18 miles.  I had to slow WAY WAY down in order to survive.  That was not easy for me to accept.  Although, my only goal was to finish the marathon, when I first started increasing my miles, I had a plan.  I was aiming for about a 4:30 to 5 hour marathon.  Reality and acceptance told me it was going to take a bit longer.

If you are wondering when I am going to talk about the actual race, I will...
but I have realized something in the time since the race, the time on course, while a big deal is not what a marathon is all about.  It's the training......because the training makes race day possible.  The race day gets the attention because you are there with a bib with a number on it; thousands of others attempting the achieve the same goal; that lovely medal you get at the end; and the amazing people who cheer you on on course, but you do not cross the finish line without the time and energy put forth in the training.

I have a obnoxious trait that shows up about a couple of days before a race that has a new distance, I start questioning my ability to do it.  I stress and drive people around me CRAZY!!!  This should never happen again, as I have now run races at every distance.  I should of meditated more and just believed more, but the focus I had put on this event started to weigh on me.  I just wanted it over, good or bad, finish or not........the pressure, that was only in my head, had gotten to me.

Now for some race details...
There were 20,000 plus marathon runners at the Walt Disney World Marathon.

In addition to the marathoners, there were 2 crazy groups of people... Group #1 were called Goofy's.  They ran the Half Marathon on Saturday and then the Full Marathon on Sunday.  They totaled around 9,000.  Group #2 were called Dopey's.  They were insane...on Thursday, they ran a 5 K, on Friday, a 10 K, on Saturday, the Half, and on Sunday, the Full..  All totaled they would run/walk 49 plus miles in 4 days.  There were 7,000 of them.

As you can tell, there were a lot of people on course.  All 50 states were represented and all continents, except Antarctica.  We started in waves, but had to be at the start line at 5:30 no matter what wave you were in.

With a 5:30 start time, I was up at 3:20!!!  Me up at 3:20.  It was not pleasant.  I caught a shuttle to take me to the start line at 4 am.  There was security to get thru, stretching to do, bathroom breaks, and calming by family!  I ,then, went to the start line, which ended up being almost 2 miles away.

5:30 am the elite wave left.....

About an hour later, the starting gun for my wave finally went off and I started my marathon.
(FYI, the elite runners were at mile 13 when I started)

To prevent me from starting to fast due to adrenaline and the surge of runners, I planned on a run/walk strategy for the first 3 miles.  It went well.  Then, I went to a slow run phase....

I alternated between the two phases until mile 21...

and my left foot fell asleep.  Not good.  When we were not in the Parks, we were on the roads that connected them, which were angled.  Great for draining water, but after a while not good for runners.

I had officially started my marathon.

Why do I say that?  Marathons are exercises in discipline, dedication, in learning about yourself, and the knowledge of what is temporarily uncomfortable or actually dangerous.

My asleep foot fell into that temporary category.  At a water/aid station, I leaned against a table and lifted my foot and shifted in my shoe and the tingling immediately went away.  No damage, just a fun little quirk I had to work thru.

I slowed WAY WAY WAY down, barely running until mile 25, but I KEPT GOING!

And this is the lesson I learned....
The voice in your head that says you can not do it.

I felt better by the time I got to mile 25 and started slowly running again and ended up running across the finish line with tears streaming down my face as I high fived Minnie Mouse and looked for my mom.

I saw her, threw my hands above my head, and yelled, "I DID IT and NEVER AGAIN!"

Happy Crying at the FINISH Line!!

The next step was to get the finisher medal around my neck.  More tears....

I love that medal...

I was exhausted, but not in pain, which was my goal all along in training.  To finish without pain.  We made our way back to the hotel where I took a much needed shower, changed, and made some phone calls.  I rested but never for too long.  We then went over to Downtown Disney for dinner and to celebrate.

It seemed surreal for about a week, what I accomplished...
like it was someone else who did it or that it was just a dream.

Now, I can say I am a Marathon Finisher!

and no, I will not do it again.

One last thing, even though this post is running long, while many aspects of training and running a Marathon are solitary endeavors, the support and love you get from the people around you are invaluable, so THANK YOU!!  A million times THANK YOU!