Garden Plans: During

Over the weekend, Hubby and I  were good home-owners, and dedicated a whole day to landscaping! Ok, so I’ve been wanting to do this since winter, but FINALLY got a chance to do it!

If you remember, when we bought the house, the yard was….lacking.

I love to gardening, but my version is to plant stuff that will live forever, and all I have to do is maintain it. Screw those Annuals – I don’t get the point. I see landscaping crews replanting all the time, and they always plant stuff that will die.  What’s the definition of insanity….?

So over the weekend, we went to Houston Garden Center, Walmart, and Home Depot! 

We even bought a new Welcome mat that I LOVE!

We got 8 azaleas of different colors to plant in the front, along with hosta and STARGAZER LILIES! One of my favorite flowers! The Hosta and stargazers are not visible yet – hosta comes as a root, and lilies come as a bulb, so there are currently underground. I also bought a hydrangea (another fav), and some decorative grasses to fill in the holes where previous grass had died in the flowerbed.

After we ran to all of those stores, I was ready to dig some holes! Hubby planned on washing the boat since he had taken it out the day before, so while I was working my butt off (no complaints there!) he was whispering sweet nothings into the boat’s engine compartment. 

For some reason, the previous owner decided that a great place for 21 beautiful flagstones was buried in the mulch of the front garden beds.  Most people I have shown didn’t even know those stones were there. I had been using them to display my collection of yard art, but had an epiphany in the middle of the night and decided I would move them to the backyard to create our walkway. I had been planning on making mosaic stepping stones, but this was much easier, and FREE! My favorite!

My lovely new stone path! (pre raking)

A few weeks ago, Hubby was great and put down some pea-gravel behind the garage, because with all the rain we have been getting lately, the yard was flooding back there. After the pea-gravel was put down though, the flooding just shifted (*facepalm*). The walkway solves the problem!

So my first task when we got back from shopping was water the new babies, since they were pretty thirsty, then break out the wheel barrow and get to moving some stones!

Hubby: “I can do that for you” he says, as he’s washing and waxing and hugging the boat.

Me: “That’s ok” I say as I struggle to keep the wheel barrow on the straight-and-narrow as I navigate up the driveway between Hubby’s truck and the boat on one side, and the house and water bucket on the other. I have a certain image in my mind of how this will look! I did NOT need help. (Thanks anyway, Honey!). Some of those stones had to have weighed closed to 60 pounds each. HOO-RAW!

I arranged all the stones the way I wanted them, then started arranging the plants where I wanted them in the flowerbeds.

Future locations of my new babies, plus soaker-hoses that will soon find their forever homes as well.

I got everything planted, weeds pulled, and soaker-hoses buried! That’s right-the soaker hoses we bought and “placed in the flowerbeds to see where they needed to be” a couple months ago, are now where they belong – UNDER GROUND!

Everything is in the ground that needs to be.

After half a day of hard work, I was ready to take a hot bath, and soak my sore muscles.  Instead, we went for a run that night (GO US) and went to bed very, very early.

Hondo was exhuasted from all the yard work. To be fair, he did have to work pretty hard to re-dig that hole that I filled in. So thoughtless of me.

The next day, when I was planning on being too sore to move, I was only too sore to move comfortably, so I spent some time in the back yard this time.  I repotted some plants, leveled out the new fancy-shmancy stepping stones, and even raked the yard!  Our oak tree has exploded again, but this time it’s flowers. And not even pretty ones! But they are all over everything, turning everything yellow with pollen, and covering the dogs. So I raked the yard and Hubby helped me bag everything up.

After I raked. The next day, the yard looked like nothing happened. *sigh*

Now the yard is ready for grass to start growing! Any day now. That would be great. Really. Great.  Any day.

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Casualties of Spring

I have already witnessed my first Spring Casualty. It was heartreaking – a toad that got run over in my driveway. By me. (Don’t worry, I didn’t take pictures). It was terrible! I love those little guys. I mean, my primary concern now is running at night because of the toads. I’m seriously considering running with a flash light, but can’t think of a confortable way to wear/hold it. Even last night while Hubby was driving through our neighborhood, I flinched, kind of half-shriek/gasped, and for all Hubby knew, there was now a small child under his tire. He slammed on the breaks, asked me what was wrong, and then I said, “you just ran over a toad.”  His response, “you know, that’s the sound you make if there is a dog or something running out in front of me.”

Last year was one of the driest years on record for Texas. So far this year, we have almost doubled the amount of rain in three months that we got all of last year. What does that mean? Bugs are getting an early start. There are already June bugs! If you have not experienced June bugs, this may give you nightmares. You can’t leave your porch light on at night because if you try to go out the door, you will be dodging those little bastards like you’re in a live ammo simulation. If one lands on you, good luck trying to pry that little sucker off – their legs are made of Adamantium and they have a crocodile grip on anything they touch.  The only saving grace is when they land on their back, they are pretty much helpless.

But that’s when the Mosquito Hawks show up.  With their long skinny legs, they gently bounce-fly along any surface, not appearing to do much of anything except become entertainment for house cats and helplessly land in the dogs’ water bowl, never to fly again.

However, Hubby and I did attempt a rescue mission for about 20+ moth eggs.  Hubby was walking out to his truck in the morning, and saw a beautiful Polyphemus moth on his tire.  She was laying eggs. On his tire. So as carefully as possible, I got her off the tire and put her on the ground out of the way so she wouldn’t go squish when we left for work. I thien carefully got the eggs off of the tire, and put them into a jar. I’m not sure if they will hatch or not, but who knows?!  I’ll try to do a little research to see if there is anything I need to be doing, but I’m HOPING we saved a lot of lives.

It's amazing how big these guys are when the eggs are about the size of Dippin' Dot.

My Futile Attempt at Fishing

I was invited to go Red Fish fishing (red fishing?) with a few friends of mine last weekend, and I have to admit, it was less than impressive. Not blaming them, mind you. It turns out that I’m cursed. It seems that every time I try to go onto the water, the weather is less than pleasant.

This time, we were to kayak out to their favorite secret fishing spot and take advantage of the “Big Drum Run” that we were told had just started. I was pretty pumped – I have never caught a salt water fish before. Notice that’s in the present tense. Because it is still an accurate statement.

So this is how it happened:

It was really windy when we got out of the truck, but we expected it to warm up, so we weren’t too concerned about it.  As we were unloading the kayaks, I saw this little guy on the boat ramp!

The Texas State Shell, with a Lightning Whelk inside!

This is a Lightning Whelk, a marine gastropod (snail) similar to a conch.  But, you can tell the difference between a Lightning Whelk and other shells because these open to the left! (There’s your fun fact for the day).  So not only was it cool for me to find one of these after I learned what they were, but I have NEVER seen one with a snail still inside before! They have always been taken over by hermit crabs by the time I see them!

So I put the little guy right back where I found him (and then realized maybe I should have moved him somewhere else, because not only was he on a boat ramp, but there were also seagulls everywhere, so he might have become someone’s lunch. Oops. Oh well, he put himself there, not me.)

Ready to Go! Little did I know that I wouldn't want to keep the sun off my face with that hat - I would want to absorb the sun like a freakin' lizard.

I may have mentioned before that wind is awful. It is frustrating, it is unending, and the only thing you can successfully do in the wind is fly a kite.  It was windy last weekend. So windy, we had to plan ahead for the wind, and paddle way out to the east of the island so that the wind would basically push us onshore when we got there. Of course, since I had never been there before, I was merely following behind the group. I thought we were going to get off the kayaks about where we got close to the island, but instead had to paddle around the corner. Into the wind. I paddled as hard as I could, and still didn’t move! I don’t know how I got past that corner. However, when we finally landed and pulled our kayaks on shore, we got ready to catch some fish.

While we were pulling the kayaks up on shore, I saw another Lightning Whelk shell (this one was empty) and a different species of snail-shell, right next to each other. The teacher in me was so excited, and I ran to one of my friends to show them the difference. She was not as impressed as I was hoping for. No one ever is. 

Does anyone know what this is called? I always call it an Angel-wing clam, but I'm not sure if I made that up, or if it's the real name.

I ran up and down the beach collecting shells, because this is an island that no one ever goes to, so there we great shells (in-tact) for the taking! I also got a ton of bird pictures because the pelicans were fishing right near us. And you know what else was fishing near us, freakin’ dolphins! But I wasn’t able to get a picture of them 😦 Bwoop.  

My friends, ready to catch their dinner.

I told them they had a lot to teach me about salt water fishing, and they said, “all you’re going to be doing in catching!”

After a while, my friend’s dad got a fish on his line, and we all got really excited because he said that it’s like a light switch – once one bites, they all start biting. Well, after a while of fighting with this fish, he thought maybe the fish got off the line, and it was just hung up on the underwater ledge, because he didn’t feel any movement for a while.  Then suddenly, he felt the fish move again, but he was sure it had jammed itself up under the ledge.  His solution was to run back down the beach and get his kayak, and paddle out with his pole so the fish couldn’t pull against the ledge anymore. He gave the pole to my friend’s husband and ran down the beach.  As soon as he arrived at his kayak, the husband felt the fish release, and he reeled it in like it was nothing!  

After he reeled in the Black drum!

You can even see her dad in the far left of the picture, pulling his kayak on shore when is fish has already been reeled in. Oops!

He’s next words: “You still can’t claim this one as your fish.” I love it.

And he was the ONLY ONE WHO CAUGHT ANYTHING.  Ok, well that’s not true. My friend caught this:

It came from the deep...

It was a dead eel – not sure which species of eel, because when I tried to GTS, nothing really looked like this guy. He looks pretty vicious, though!

Throughout the morning, the wind got worse and worse, and I swear the temperature dropped. My friend’s dad turned into McGyver and propped my kayak up on its side to make a wind break.

All we needed was a fire, and we would have been set.

 After that was created, I didn’t want to get out into the wind again! I tried, but couldn’t hack it. My friend’s dad kept catching things, but he threw them back because they were small, or they were sting rays *love*

I want one!

He showed me how to restrain them so you don’t worry about getting barbed or hurting them, and how to get the hook out of their mouth. Then he let me pet it! The first one he caught was a male, and the second was a female, and it was so neat to be able to see the differences! (I’m not going to explain the differences to you – that’s what Moms are for). I swear one day, when I’m rich and famous, I will have an aquarium in the floor of my house full of sting rays.  This will happen.

Standing proud, but freezing!

After a little more fishing, we were finally all ready to head home, with one fish and the knowledge that there is a working heater in the truck. Because I understand that nothing outdoors is going to go perfectly well, and I understand that I am, in fact, cursed on the water, I look at it this way: next time I go, (unless there is a freak hurricane) the fishing WILL BE BETTER, NO MATTER WHAT! So I’m looking forward to the next trip!

Home Improvements #1

 

Our house didn’t have much we wanted to change when we bought it, which is always great. We did some painting but not much else on the inside, and we are working on the yard situation this Spring.

I was trying to clean up with Guest Bathroom a couple of weeks ago, when I was finally bothered by something. There is this material you can put over the glass in windows that is very opaque, and you can get different patterns, (i.e. smoky, frosted, etc.) to allow light into the room, but prevent people from seeing in. This stuff is great for bathroom windows. I had never heard of it before until I was in college. In this old house we were renting, there was a relatively large window in the bathroom. In the shower. From about mid-rib up. And we lived on the main street. Not really something I want everyone in town to see. So we did the classy college-student thing, and duct-taped a black trash bag up in the window. Nice, right? We kept it like that for a while, until my boss and friend, Moxie, gave me this contact paper-like material. It was great! It was blue and looked like water spots, but still allowed light into the room. The difference was amazing.

So when we bought our house I saw that a similar paper was used in the Guest Bathroom window. However, because that window is exposed to the southern sun, it gets very warm, and the contact paper stuff began to peel off. What was their solution? Scotch tape of course! That’s what was bothering me.

This is what it looked like after I got it off the window. It looks like butcher paper : /

 

It was peeling up and taped down, and just looked gross. I wasn’t going to just take it down and not replace it with something, so I thought, ‘what would That Clever Chick do?’ I went to Hobby Lobby and got some glass froster!

What you need: this little package came with everything you need, but I was pleased to notice that the little application sponge was just the same as my makeup sponge things, so I have a bunch of them in case I needed more. I think I ended up using one additional one, because the one thing I didn’t do was clean out the window track at the bottom of the window. Just like all windows, it had a nice collection of dead bugs that you don’t see until you are trying to paint a window, and then the dead bugs get pulled into the paint. Lovely. So if you do this, make sure you do that first!

Before. Notice my neighbor's house is clearly visible. Not cool.

First you have to make sure the window is REALLY clean. Now, I didn’t buy the glass etching acid stuff. That was some hardcore chemical I didn’t feel like being in a confined space with. And the stuff I bought was a LOT cheaper. My mantra!

After the first coat

So all you have to do is put one layer of the gloss on the window in a pattern you prefer, wait an hour, and then apply another coat. I think you can put up to 4 coats on it. I did 3. I’m not super artistic, so I did swirls. I figured it would break up the sillouette even more, just in case it wasn’t as glossy as I had planned.

The Window: The final product, after 3 layers of gloss.

I’m sure my sister, The Clever Chick, would have come up with a much better way to do this, and it would have looked amazing if she did it, but she lives a few hours away, and I did this in one afternoon, so I’m happy with it. Next I’m planning on potting a couple orchids to put into the window, but I might wait until we plan of having guests again, so they will be sure to bloom for them and get the full effect. If you do something like this, let me know how it goes!

10K does not mean 10,000

I’M BAAAAAAAAAAAAACCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!!!!!!!!

As I’m sure you have noticed, I haven’t been posting in a while. That is because I have been in school for a week! Ok, not so much school, but a continuing education course, to learn all about wetlands. Totally work related (i.e. I didn’t pay for the class), interesting, and I got to be outside for half a day all week, during beautiful weather. Life is good.

And now that I’m back, I can entertain you with a couple of adventures I had while I was cut off from the interwebs.

Hubby and I have the same birthday. This makes it easy to remember, but at the same time, there is no longer a day just for me. For years I didn’t have my own birthday cake, because Hubby and I met at our job, so I went about 7 years of having to share a birthday cake with him until I got my current job, where not only does Hubby not work with me, but I’m the only February birthday in the office, so I get the only cake for a month! Ok, so it’s a little selfish, but that’s the only reason we celebrate birthdays anyway, right?

I guess I could get back on track…. Hubby and I have the same birthday, so this year for our birthday we decided to do the Houston Rodeo Run 10K. My New Years Resolution was to run 10 miles.  Originally the goal was to run 10 miles without dying, but now I’m actually seeing that I might be able to run 10 miles without stopping! And this is coming from the girl who just last year could hardly run 1 mile without stopping.  Now people look at me like I’m crazy when I say, “what? It’s only 6 miles…”

This was our first 10K, and I was really excited about it! I have done a couple 5Ks…This is how they went:

First 5K – West Texas. Homecoming Fun Run for the university. We started out going UP the steepest hill in town. Literally. Then run around a couple of neighborhoods, go back up a hill, and then back down the first hill. It was pretty brutal. The lady behind me kept coughing up phlegm and spitting it out. *hork!* The best part of it was that I knew one of the police officers who was running traffic for the race, so when he was done at his post, he got back into his car to drive to the finish line. (I was one of the last runners) so as he drove by, he got on the loud-speaker of his police car, encouraging me to keep going. That’s what I love about small towns. Right there.

Second 5K – Shriner’s Mud Run, Humble, Texas June 2011. June. In southeast Texas. It was awful. This was only the like 2nd Annual too, so they weren’t very organized. As soon as the starter pistol was fired, everyone took off, but in the very beginning, there was a giant mud pit and muddy hill to go through and over. Slippery muddy hill + beginning of the race = gridlock. Not only that, but did I mention it was June? In southeast Texas? Where the humidity was about 80% and it was 90 degrees by 9am? Even the water that we ran through was hot. And to top it all off the “official photographer” was only taking pictures of me when I was walking and looked like I was going to die. Why would I want to commemorate that moment in my life? When it was so hot outside that instead of drinking the ice water that was provided for us at the water station, I threw it down into my sports bra to cool off. Does that sound like something you would want a picture of? Cuz I sure didn’t. Of course all the pictures of Hubby made him look like he was in a running magazine. He was running in all of his pictures for one, which made me want to kill him, but he was also smiling. SMILING?!?! Who can smile while they are running in 130 degree weather?! He looked like he was having the time of his life. Not fair.

But this time was different. I have been training like crazy, running between 15 and 20 miles a week, and lifting weights to make my arms and legs stronger. Obviously you want strong legs for running, but you also need strong arms because you use them in your momentum, so if your arms get tired, you have to work the rest of your body harder to make up for it, making you tired faster.

This was my first race with a timing chip!

The Rodeo Run was great – it was the 25th Anniversary, so it was pretty well-organized, and we got there early, so we had some awesome parking near the finish line. I was prepared to run in shorts, but I was wearing sweats over them before the race because it was in the low 50s. I ended up running in my pants too just because I couldn’t imagine standing there waiting for the race to start, and freezing wearing shorts. 

Ready to Run!

So with my wicking shirt, running pants, amazing running shoes, and my handy-dandy GPS running watch, we hit the road for the race.

Now, I understand this is for charity (The Houston LIvestock Show and Rodeo Scholarship Fund) and I’m far from professional, but there were some stupid people we encountered while we were there! First of all, you are asked to line up in order of your running pace. so if you run a 4 minute mile, you should be in front of the people who run a 12 minute mile. We did what we were supposed to do, and got in the area of the 10 minute mile runners. Then I saw a sight in front of me: 4 women all together, wearing full makeup, with their hair done. One of them even had big heavy earrings in. And she was in front of US?!?! I don’t think so. So we walked up to the 9 minute mile area. Apparently we should have been at the like 7 minute mile marker, because for the first two miles we spend so much energy passing people who were already walking (and walking on the LEFT side), we were tired way early.

At mile 3 there was a bridge. Yuck. Bridge = Hill. And hills give me “The Fear” but I was happy to be able to pass people on the bridge as they slowed down. Then to our right, we saw the leaders of the race. Coming back up the bridge. At mile 5. We had to do it twice. Needless to say, I had my doubts.

By mile 4 I thought I was going to have to start walking. I was so disappointed, but my hips were hurting, and my tendons in my right calf were so tight I could barely flex my heel. But I pushed on. Hubby was my little puppy in front of me, looking back making sure I was still there, and encouraging me to continue. And it totally worked. By the time I got to mile 5, I knew I could make it forward to all the SWAG!

Crossing the finish line!

And sure enough, we finished in 1:05:13! I wish I had the energy to carry a camera on this run, because there were some people I wish I could have taken pictures, of, but I couldn’t even wear my heart rate monitor for the whole race! A word from the wise – that thing chafes after 5 miles! I really thought I was going to look down and there would be a giant blood stain on my shirt from the HR monitor.

When we got to the after party, SWAG was everywhere! They were giving away bagels, bananas, water, BEER, frozen yogurt, Go-Gurt, trail mix, Honey Milk, and all kinds of other stuff.

I was pretty tired by the time we got to the car, and even more tired by the time we got home, but it was my birthday so I did what I wanted. I TOOK A NAP.

Pizza, hot wings, and beer were the birthday dinner I had dreamed of for days, so we had that delivered to the house. Happy Birthday to us!