Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Even if we won't admit it to ourselves

I am in the midst of an EXCELLENT book called Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. It is the kind of book that resonates with the ideas I have in theory, but is compelling enough to get me to actually DO something to live those ideas.

In a way, it's a time management and productivity book, but instead of squeezing more things into your limited time, it's about choosing VERY strategically what is actually worth spending time on. I'm reading it slowly to savor it and I am thinking about how to put these concepts into practice.

To that end, I sat down today and wrote up my priority list. It hasn't changed, but I am committing to be disciplined about focusing only on these things instead of getting distracted by shiny things on the Internet.
  • FAMILY - kid-wrangling, being wifely (whatever that means), doing *fun* stuff together
  • HOME - finish unpacking after the remodel, laundry, dishes, keeping the filth and clutter down
  • CRAFT - work on my scrapbooks, and continue making them for others via The Papercraft Lab
  • SELF-CARE - exercise, eat well, cook at home, sleep enough
  • WORK - yep!  Starting a part-time contract gig next week
Work was a new addition to the list and actually triggered the re-evaluation of my commitments.  I am setting up shop as an independent consultant project manager (sounds so much fancier than it is!) and have a couple of clients for a total of about 20 hours a week.

Our new business covers my PM work and TJ's motorsports mobile app development.  Here's the fancy new logo I got on Etsy.  Pretty cool, huh?  I have to say that as a papercrafter and lover of stationery, I was especially excited about choosing a logo.

Here are some of the things I am completing or quitting to "find" 20 hours a week for this work:
  • Completed Coursera Creative Problem Solving class online, which completes my credits needed for renewing my PMP certification for 3 more years.
  • Completed two scrapbooks for Papercraft Lab clients
  • Un-enrolled from two other Coursera courses that "sounded interesting"
  • Declined the role of coordinating summer playdates for our toddler group
  • Stopped taking custom metal orders in my Etsy shop (still selling ready-made items!)
  • Facebook (I may need to detox gradually - I've already removed it from my phone. SO hard.)
  • Quit trying to be "social coordinator" and making new friends - need to focus on my existing ones!
  • Buying the snack for T's preschool at Trader Joe's instead of baking it
  • Stopped watching TV (no more Glee, Grey's Anatomy, The Mindy Project, etc.)
  • Finishing a scrapbook layout that will be used as a "demo" in an upcoming class
  • Decided not to enroll the girls in additional classes this summer other than Little Gym
  • Blogging. I haven't been motivated to write much here, so I'm taking a break for a while
In addition to going through my existing activities with a fine-toothed comb, I'm trying to be VERY selective about what I take on. I have a tendency to add projects on a whim, or volunteer for stuff when asked, so this is going to be a significant mindset change.  Wish me luck! 

If you read Essentialism, I'd love to know what you thought.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tuesday Lovin': Bastille (the band not the prison)

Sometimes you hear a new song and you just have to stop and HEAR it, because it's so perfectly awesome on the first listen.  I remember exactly where and when I first heard Bastille's song Pompeii.

It was a freezing January evening at the gas station near my parents' house, where I was filling up before the daily trip back to the house to "camp out" in the living room during the remodel.

While the song was playing, I used the Android "what song is it" widget to find out who it was and hopped over to Amazon MP3 to purchase it immediately.  I should have listened to the other songs on the album and just bought the whole thing right there, but of course I was looking for instant gratification and had two kids perilously close to bedtime.

We've been listening to a lot of Pandora in the house, and after I gave Pompeii a "thumbs up", other Bastille songs started creeping into the mix.  And I loved every song I heard.  So I finally bought the whole Bad Blood album last week, and Oh. Em. Gee. It's amazing. So catchy and such great lyrics.  Any band that leaves me the earworm of "Icarus is flying too close to the sun" is A-OK.  Apparently if you buy the CD, the MP3 download is now free.  (I missed this entirely since I purchased on my phone, sigh.)

I'm noticing a pattern.  British male singers with obvious accents.  Sound reminiscent of 80s music. Thoughtful lyrics not always about lost romantic love.  Hello Passenger, The Script, Scars on 45. So I guess I've become predictable in my old age.  But at least I'm finding new music to listen to!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Ready to Run

I have a love-hate, on-and-off, breakup and get back together again relationship with exercise.  When I was 24, I lost 40 pounds by combining Weight Watchers and serious exercise. That was the first time in my life I tried running. I was inspired by John Bingham's book about getting started as a runner despite being middle aged and overweight. I love that he dubbed himself "The Penguin". I went to Alaska for one of his running clinics and it was awesome.

Because this is a blog post and that was 14 years ago, I can fast forward through all the sweat and side stitches and hours on the treadmill, and say that I went from no exercise at all, to a ton of walking, to running a 5K.  It was glorious - I was thinner than I ever had been as an adult, I actually started to love running and working out and I gained some serious self-confidence in the process.

You know how the story goes. First it started with a new consulting gig where the gym wasn't so convenient and lots of dinners out.  I eventually gained some of that weight back. In 2004 after I got engaged, I got my vanity on - I wanted to look *good* in my wedding pictures.  So back to the gym I went. I got a trainer and a nutritionist and got back to running.  I ran another couple of 5Ks in Seattle and learned to love running again.

But again, the lazy won out.  I did work out fairly regularly, but stopped running.  When I got pregnant with T, I stopped going to the gym entirely because I was SO tired all the time. I dropped my gym membership and haven't had one since (5+ years now!).

Two pregnancies later, the situation is not pretty. I have about 20 lbs to lose to get back to pre-T-pregnancy weight.  And that was not a healthy weight for me, so it's more like 40-mumble pounds to get back to something actually healthy for my height.

One of my goals for age 40 (next year - arghhh!) is to get to a healthy weight for my height.  I don't have a lot of time, and I do have a lot of work ahead of me.  And yet I have been unmotivated to DO THE WORK. I can talk a good game, I can make charts and lists and motivational collages, but actually getting down to the treadmill and walking?  Naaah.

And then my friend A told me about Beat the Blerch.  It's a crazy running event hosted by the guy who draws The Oatmeal.  There will be cake, and people in costume chasing the runners. This appealed to me. Plus, I love The Oatmeal.

My first 10K, god help me

So in a fit of crazy, and encouraged by several friends, I signed up.  The shortest distance is 10K.  Which I've never run.  The last time I did any running was in 2005.  What have I gotten myself into?

I started where all new runners start these days.  The Couch to 5K walk/run program.  Now in our fancy age of smartphones, there's an app for that.  It's fantastic- it gives you prompts to start running or walking over the music you're listening to.  I really could have used this back in 2004.  Or 1998.

I completed a week of running workouts before I got this horrible cold which I've had for about 2 weeks now.  (Sigh).  This means I'll probably have to start over.  I couldn't even DO the Week 1 of that program - I'm so out of shape that even running for 1 minute 8 times was too much.  So I scaled it back to running 35 seconds and I'll add more time slowly.  

I've got 5 months before the race in September so I should be able to work up to 6.2 miles by then, *if* I can be consistent.  That's the hard part, right?

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Blogging the Remodel: The Nicest Bathroom I've Ever Had

I've had a few friends hassling asking me nicely for photos of our completed home addition/remodel project. There are many reasons I haven't posted them yet, except for a few quick ones on Instagram.  I feel like the rooms need to be unpacked, or at least reasonably uncluttered, before I photograph them to post.  We're still bringing stuff up from the garage, going through bins and making weekly runs to Goodwill. Losing both dogs within two months also made it hard to focus on non-essential tasks.  We've unpacked enough to go through our daily lives, so there's less of a *need* to get the rest done quickly.

Also - we added 1000 square feet, but haven't bought a ton of furniture or decor to fill it up, by design. (Well, partly because we gave all our money to the remodeling firm.)  We want to live with the space and see what we need, and figure out what we can repurpose from the rest of the house first.  So many of the new spaces look empty.  We just got the energy to hang pictures in our living room, which was only barely affected by the project.

I'll start in the top rightmost corner of the house - the master bathroom.   In typical (horrible) 70s style, our sink and vanity were right *in* the bedroom. There was a separate TINY room with the toilet and small fiberglass shower stall.  The toilet/shower area was so small you had to be very careful about where you stood so that you could open the door.  When TJ got up for work super-early, he had to turn on the lights over the sink, which woke both me and whichever baby happened to be sleeping in our room at the time. 

Our house has a lot of recycled rustic barnboard, but in the master bedroom it was overkill - all over the vanity wall, plus the wall behind the bed.  There was also no bathtub, though we did have a (rarely used) hot tub outside on our deck, which we sacrificed for this project.

Here's a drawing of what it looked like:

Here are a couple of photos of the "before" space.  We forgot to take photos of the bathroom before demolition.

One of the listing photos when we bought the house

Our wedding day, 2005

The design for the remodel had our new master bedroom and bath being built from scratch, in the "addition" part of the house.  So we were able to design it exactly how we wanted it:
  • Fully enclosed bathroom - vanity area no longer part of the bedroom
  • Solid surface countertop - no more tile!!
  • Tile floors and shower stall
  • Larger shower area, with a bench for "stuff"
  • On-demand hot water heater (woot!)
  • TWO sinks instead of one
  • Large soaking bathtub 
  • Room to turn around and close the door
  • No barnboard or 70s stained glass

We didn't need a HUGE, luxurious spa bathroom with a seating area - we just wanted it bigger than before and to use the space wisely.  Here's the new design:

We love this one because the bathroom door can be closed, and even when it's not, the vanity lights aren't shining into the sleeping area thanks to that little "hallway" by the door.  The closet door opens to a wall in that same hallway and that also doesn't disrupt the person sleeping.

I'm not a huge fan of the "toilet closet" with a door, since we're almost never in the bathroom at the same time, but apparently that's what people do these days.  

Choosing the tile, cabinet finish, counter and paint was a painful process, and by the time we got to the bathroom, I just wanted to check it off the list.  I found this bathroom online and used it as my inspiration:

Houzz bathroom

Here are the actual photos (you're welcome, A) - click for larger versions:

I chose the wood stain color early on, and had a challenge trying to find a light colored countertop that I liked that wasn't boring.  We ended up with Cambria engineered quartz in Laneshaw, which looks sort of like Reese's peanut butter cup ice cream.  I'm usually not a fan of the "fake marble" look, but it's got enough gold and silver sparkles so that it doesn't look like it's trying too hard to be real.

Most of the choices were cost-driven.  The nice thing is that anything new was an improvement over what we were living with. We chose the same sinks for both the girls' bathroom and ours - a flat modern looking oval with a sharp inside edge by Kohler.  We splurged on the HUGE soaking tub by Mirabelle, but didn't get the version with the jets.  The showerhead and faucets were Grohe in chrome - nothing fancy but much nicer than what we had.  I decided NOT to frame the mirror like the inspiration bathroom - it was just too expensive for the size we needed.

It was easiest to paint the bathroom in the same color as the master bedroom - Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter, which is a warm grey.  I'm surprised at how much we both love the color, considering I'm not usually a fan of neutrals.  The "toilet closet" and ceiling are Benjamin Moore Morning Light - a warm cream color that we used throughout the house for ceilings and hallways.

Tile was the last thing we chose, and at that point, I was SO TIRED of all the choices.  I asked our coordinator at the design/build firm we were using to narrow down the choices to matte cream colored tile with some kind of natural texture and a very subtle pattern.  Bonus points for sparkle.  One of the choices came in a variety of sizes, so I just decided to use that for EVERYTHING.  12x24 rectangles for the shower walls and tub deck, which I love, 12x12 square tiles for the floor, and the 2x2s on the shower floor.  I love the simple, unified look.  She also found a GORGEOUS rectangular mosaic tile by Statements that we used as an accent - it brings together the different colors in the woodwork, tile and paint.  And it's got lots of sparkly bits.

Another choice I'm really happy with was the decision to use frosted glass windows.  They're really opaque and "glow" during the day to let plenty of light in.  At night you can't see *anything* from outside.  This way I don't have to mess with window treatments near the tub and it gives the whole thing a cleaner look.  I'm sure that many interior designers will disagree, but for us, simple and low maintenance is better.

It is pure luxury to take a shower in this lovely space now.  The clear glass takes some getting used to, especially right across from the (frosted) window. But I love having my own sink and my own bank of drawers. And the tub, ahhhh. This is by far the nicest bathroom I've ever had in my own place.

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