Goodness

Stuff has been going on around the house.  I have finished painting the French doors and some other trim.  I learned quickly that the oil-based primer is a little difficult to use.  It likes to separate itself, smells reallllly strong, and does not come off your skin (without paint thinner).  I guess my dad never used oil-based paint… so I didn’t know.

We have to use the special primer to seal off the nicotine that is absorbed into the trim.  Yes, I did scrub the nicotine off to the best of my ability.  The primer we are using is Sherwin Williams SF-1.  And we do plan to get an ozone machine (which would rid us of the rest of the smoke smell).

Anyway, after taking a bath in paint thinner I’m good as new.  We use the paint thinner in the master bath where it is still very smokey.  We do air out the house though by opening windows. 

I’m using Pure White (Sherwin Williams) as my trim color.  I just didn’t want to mess with picking a special white to compliment the Kilim Beige (SW again) wall color.  I may do an antique white color on the kitchen cabinets someday.  So many whites!

I became quite familiar with the French doors.  One coat of primer, two coats of paint, and over 24 work hours later they are done.  …mostly, I need to touch up the parts that pealed when I pulled the tape.  And they don’t have door handles, whatever.

 We have continued placing wood floors down the hall and ran two strips into the guest bedroom.*  Those two strips are now dried and secure so all we really have left to do on wood flooring are the two bedrooms and study.  The bathrooms will be tile.  And no, we haven’t picked it out yet.

Bathrooms will probably (I hope) come after we finish the wood floors.  But the other tasks that remain are:

Baseboards throughout the house
New fence
Landscaping front and back
Replace, reseal, repaint siding
Check on attic insulation and seals around windows
Fix fireplace (backside brick is broken)
Kitchen cabinet painting
And someday, new windows!

I’d love to know your opinion about the paneling in the living room.  Should we leave it?  Paint it?  Whitewash it so it looks like pickled wood?

*I can use a jigsaw now!  Power tools!

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New Pics

Found one of the SD cards, so with out further ado:

New living room

New living room 2

Fireplace

Dining Room

New kitchen

The workshop/Study

Not a house post

I spent the last Monday and Tuesday at the Houston Zoo.  They are one of my newer clients and we needed to get some footage for a couple projects we’re working on for them.  One of our videographers, Matt, came and did all the camera work.  I like to think I played assistant and had a really good time!  It could be a long time before I have footage to share, so we’ll see…

My contacts at the Zoo, Alex and Lona, were really fun and planned a great schedule.  The keepers were ready when we arrived at each enclosure and did their best to get the animals to come out and get a little active.  Each keeper was so passionate about the animals and worked so hard to help us get the shots we wanted.  They really understood that getting good footage could translate into a neat video that could then help bring in the hearts of viewers who could become more interested in conservation and education and bring in the monetary support the Zoo needs to expand and continue to provide those experiences and benefits of the Zoo.  (Whew, quite a long thought)

Not-so-quick overview:

Cheetahs – two males, raised by hand, leash trained, absolutely beautiful.  Learned that as brothers, they would stick together in the wild kind of like a pack.  They live with two large shepherding dogs that add to the pack and keep one cheetah company while the other is fulfilling his ‘ambassador duties’ (educational visits and such).  Even though they are carnivores, the keeper was able to be in the enclosure with them and rubbed them down.  She threw balls to help us get action shots, but it was a little hot for them and they didn’t feel much like playing.  It was fun to watch the stalking behavior, much like a house cat would crouch and get ready to pounce on a mouse.  Found a video on YouTube where you can see them purr!

Okapi – looks like zebra legs, giraffe head shape, horse size body.  We got to go in this exhibit to film an interview with the Zoo Director.  There was one okapi in the enclosure at the time along with his duiker buddies, some tortoises, and a crane with the awesome crown of feathers that looks like a firework.  The okapi are very rare.  This guy came right over to see what was up; wanted to make friends.  Very sweet.  I noticed him stick his long tongue up his nose and decided there would be no kisses.  Very lovely creature.

Giraffes – my favorite!  We got to go in the enclosure and stand on the ‘pad’ where we hoped to capture some interviews with keepers.  There were still cables between the giraffes and us, but that was it.  The largest, Kiva, is a 17 foot tall, 2600 lb male.  You could very easily walk clear under his legs, no problem.  He was very curious and wanted to sniff out the newbies.  I was standing there so Matt could set up the shot for the interview and I got that feeling that there was giraffe right behind me (very Jurassic Park).   Kiva’s head was basically on mine and we nuzzled a little.  I did get pushed around a bit.  You don’t quite realize how large their heads are ’cause they are normally so high up there.  Kiva’s nostrils are huge (like large potato huge) and he would exhale and little sand-sized bits of kibble would come down (hence my ‘I smell like giraffe’ twitter).  

We had a golf cart to get around and every time we passed the giraffes, Kiva watched.  He loves his visitors.

Also, they have a five month old baby, Miles.  Check out the Zoo’s first video of Miles.

Elephants – we had another interview over at the elephants.  We first got to watch the four year old, Tucker, get his morning bath in the amazing barn.  They took his temperature in his ear and blood pressure by putting the cuff around the base of his tail.  Then his momma, Tess, led him back to the yard while he held her tail.  Elephants are really smart and it not kept mentally challenged they would tear apart their enclosure, so they performed some tricks for us.  Tess and Tucker both stood on their heads for us.  I learned that elephants can lift about 1/4 of their weight with their trunk.  Tucker helped clean the zoo after Hurricane Ike by moving tree limbs.  I did get to pet Tucker and their hair is very bristly.  Something I found really interesting: the elephants respond to instruction from the keepers they know (come here, back up, lift your foot).  They know their names.  Soo smart!

As we exited, we went back in the barn and saw the big bull, Thai.  He’s massively larger than Tess and Tucker; 10 feet to the top of his head, 13,000 lbs.  

Meerkats – precious little guys.  The keepers gave them hay with live crickets to entice them over to the camera.  It was pretty funny to watch them chase the crickets.

Wild dogs – we got to see these three guys before they were fed.  They entered the yard and took a dip in their pool.  Then the keeper through one cattle bone into the yard and they wrestled for it.  They were playing, but it could have been quite scary.  They made chortling noises and forgot about the one bone.  The keeper threw in two more and everyone was happy.

Mandrills – carnivorous, sort of baboon looking monkey.  We got to their enclosure before they got out for the morning.  When they appeared they went to the wood shavings to find their treats.  Watching them push the shavings was very much like watching a human push toys around.  

Lions and tiger – Jonathan is the beautiful male lion, Celesto the lady.  Again the keepers helped get their attention by throwing meat and cattle bones to them.  Absolutely stunning creatures.  Hana the tiger (in a different enclosure) also got meat and a cattle bone.

Zebras – we got to go in their exhibit while they got breakfast; it’s how we enticed them over.  The keeper was surprised they came over as they are prey animal and always on guard.  I found them surprisingly short; not nearly as tall as a horse.  After Ike, a fence was knocked down between the zebras and an antelope enclosure.  They became buddies and still live together today.

Sea lions – the Zoo had so many great keeper chats that really got the visitors involved.  There is a sea lion show actually and two of the females, Cali and Kamia, were the stars that day.  They did the waving, barking, and jumping to touch the ball.  Matt and I got to go down to the dock though so we were practically in the exhibit.  The sea lions definitely spotted us and wanted to know what was up.  The Zoo has a baby who’s still in quarantine, but he should be out soon.

Duck Lake and flamingos – yeah, so they have ducks and flamingos.  The cool thing is that there were some migratory ducks hanging out as well.  You could distinguish them in that they did not have tags and could fly.

Sifaka – pronounced ‘shif-awk’.  Beautiful type of lemur.  They had a new baby as well that clung to mama.  They are awesome leapers/jumpers.

So yeah, I think everyone should have the opportunity to experience the animals that close.  The Houston Zoo is wonderfully set up in that visitors can walk around some of the exhibits almost completely.  If the giraffe is over there, go over there to get a better look.  The elephant barn has large windows that the keepers will open so you can see bath time and talk with them.  It was really nice.  I’m ready to go back.  Loved it, loved it, loved it.

Side notes:

– It was so hot.  I had sweat rolling into my eyes at 9am while I held the reflector thing for the camera.  My clothes were soaked.  But I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

– Of course, I picked up a baby giraffe as my souvenir.  He’s on my desk at work now.  Also got a giraffe magnet ’cause I get John magnets when I travel.

No More Fence

We got notice that we had to fix the fence in two days or else…  So John called the city and long story short, they told us we didn’t have to replace it and they gave us a week to bring it down.  Sunday afternoon, that’s just what we did. 

Facing the alley

The fence we share with our neighbors is still up; set to come down later.  It’s really two fences back-to-back, so we don’t have to replace that.

The ivy had grown back in.  Nasty stuff really.  John found what we think was the main root which looked more like a tree stump at about ten inches in diameter.  He kept pulling the roots and we found they run all across the yard.  Those roots were between one and two inches in diameter.

Backyard

Ivy

As we were working on it, neighbors were driving by and giving us thumbs up.  Little embarrassing to think they were happier it was gone.  Little do they know it’s going to be awhile before it is replaced.

I did say ‘we’ were working on it.  I pulled nails out of the wood because bulk trash day was the next day and it’s a nice thing to not have rusty nails sticking out everywhere.  I also couldn’t let John do all the work…

In addition to John’s handymanness, he replaced a sprinkler head that broke underground.  And the next day he replaced the brakes on my car all by himself.  He amazes me.

Memorial Day Weekend Was Big

I’d love to show you some pictures about how we finished the floor in the dining room and set up the dining table and new bookcase acquired at Ikea.  I’d love to show you the new track lighting we installed in the kitchen that seems to visually add $1000 of value and wow factor to the house.  There’s also the fan in the guest bedroom now and track lighting picked up on clearance at Lowes in the study.  And oh my, we have towel rods in the bathroom now!  Some pics of John replacing every single outlet and light switch would also be cool.  But alas, we have misplaced the SD card for the camera and you will have to wait in suspense until we find it.  Or you could just come over and see the awesomeness for yourself!

One Year

So let’s see.  John and I have been married one year now!  We are so blessed to be where we are now.  We didn’t think we’d have a house so soon.  Our anniversary weekend went like this:

Friday – Molly worked at Pottery Barn and quit.  Made sure to use her discount to buy some fancy Wusthof knives at Williams-Sonoma first.  I resigned my position because the job had outlived it’s purpose to me.  No longer used the discount, wasn’t counting on the  paycheck (for sure), kept me from spending time working on the house, difficult scheduling around weddings, trips to Austin, and visiting friends.  I did happen to have my largest sales ever in the last three shifts I worked.  Out with a bang.

Saturday – participated in CF Walk at Fair Park to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis research.  It was raining.  But there were free cookies.  John convinced me to run since it was only a 5K.  Let me just say that I do not do distance running.  I finished about 8 minutes behind him, but we both agreed it was shorter than a 5K for sure.  It was a great turn out and there were some precious children there.

Then we went to John’s brother’s homeschool graduation.  It was a fun graduation and it was their biggest class yet (22 kids).  John’s parents went to his sister’s graduation from UNT that happened to be at the same time.  So John and I got to be the parents.  We gave James his diploma in front of everyone and then later all the kids gave their mothers (their teachers) a rose to thank them.  I stood in for Mrs. B and I found it a little comical.  I had joked with John that we would be the youngest parents there and afterward someone did come up and ask us how old we were.  We immediately mentioned that James was John’s brother and there was immediately the sigh of relief and understanding.  It was really special to be a part of his graduation and surely a fun memory for a long time. 

We went over to John’s parent’s house for delicious BBQ afterward and had a great time.  Congrats to James and Natalie!

Sunday – went to early service at church, took a two hour nap, and then installed floors until late.  Really, John installed the floors while I installed one window blind.  He’s much more efficient.  Even finished the living room!  We can’t wait to unroll the rug and finish setting up.  We still have the dining room, but that will probably only take an afternoon.  So things are rolling again!

Nada

Have been thinking about blogging for awhile now.  Just don’t have access to the camera right now.  And who really wants a blog post sans photos?