Practicing Habits Daily – August

I love New Years Resolutions. I know a lot of people think they’re stupid and everybody forgets about them a few weeks into the new year, but I like the idea of starting a fresh year with new goals.

In 2010 I did a pretty good job of keeping my goals achievable and accomplishing most of them. The biggest one was running a marathon and I accomplished that one in June when Hilary and I did the Rock ‘n Roll marathon in Seattle. Unfortunately, 2011 has been a different story. The year got off to a rocky start with my thesis and PhD applications looming over my head, so I never really set any firm resolutions.

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Well, with the year half-way over, I’ve decided to start a new series on the blog called “Practicing Habits Daily.” Each month I’ll set a few new goals for myself that I want to focus on turning into a new habit or a task I want to accomplish for that month. Don’t they say that it takes 30 days to turn something into a habit? I figure that if I work on just a few tasks each month, then by December I will have more than made up for my slacking in January-July.

I’d love any sort of encouragement, reminders, other people joining me in their own monthly tasks, as I take on this series!

Overall, I want the month of August to be about settling into my new daily rhythms of life. The past few months have been very unstable in the sense that I’ve been living out of a suitcase, constantly on the road, and lacking any sort of normalcy in my life. School starts back on the 29th and I start orientation on the 21st. I want to get myself back into the groove before life becomes chaotic. I also know it’s super important for me to establish a healthy eating and exercise routine before I begin to stress about school, otherwise it’ll never happen. So these goals will be geared towards getting me adjusted and settled into life in Tallahassee.

1. Floss every day. I had a dreaded trip to the dentist this week and he threatened horrible things if I don’t start flossing daily. So that will be my number one goal. It only takes a few minutes each day, so it is totally achievable.

2. Start my 30 Days Jar of Joy. I semi-accidentally, semi-purposefully left my Jar of Joy in Tallahassee. I want to do it there, but I forgot how long I was going to be in St. Pete. As soon as I get back to T-town I’m starting!

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3. Do some sort of physical activity 5 days a week. Hilary and I have been pretty good about swimming and biking, but I need to keep that up. I know that if I slack off for too many days in a row, then it becomes impossible for me to get back into the exercise routine. As sort of a part two to this goal, I want to add strength training back into my routine, but I won’t make that a mandatory goal yet.

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4. Pick a half-marathon/marathon and create/start a training plan. Most of the races that I’m looking at doing are in January-March, so I need to start training NOW. I also need to pick one and register for it, before the prices go up and as an added incentive to work out.

5. Start my garden and landscaping projects. I’ve really been looking forward to the chance to do some gardening, but since I’ve been all over the place I haven’t been around to watch over any new plants. Now the time has arrived.

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6. Start taking my daily herbs, vitamins, and recording my body temps.

7. Spend a minimum of 30 minutes a day reading something for fun and a minimum 60 minutes a day reading for school. I am well aware that I spent too much time fooling around on the computer and I need to start setting a timer for myself. Instead of making that my goal for this month, I’m going to aim to spend more time reading because I have homework and Harry Potter to get through this month!

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So what are your August goals? What do you want to make into a habit? Join me on my challenge!

Top Gun Triathlon Spectator Report

About three years ago Hilary and I were participating in Team in Training and one of our coaches asked us to help volunteer for a triathlon that she was organizing. We had a great time volunteering and seeing all the athletes accomplish their goals was a powerful sight. We both vowed that one of our next goals would be to do a triathlon. At this point Hilary has accomplished that goal by completing three triathlons and I’m making baby steps towards completing my first triathlon.

On Saturday Hilary competed in and finished her fourth triathlon, the Top Gun Triathlon on Ft. Desoto Beach, which just happens to be the same triathlon that we volunteered at three years ago.

Even though there was no way I was going to even think about doing Top Gun, both because it was sold out and because I’m not prepared for the swim, I knew I had to go and support Hilary’s efforts. As much as I love racing, and I really do love racing, it’s sort of anti-climactic if there’s no one there to watch you or do it with you.

So at 4:15am on Saturday we both woke up before the sun and headed out the door to go help set up for the race.
Clearly, I’m far too excited to be awake at four in the morning.

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After Hilary set up her transition area she helped with body marking other athletes. I think body marking might be one of the top reasons why I want to do a triathlon. It just seems so hard core to be able to walk around after the race with this body tattoo declaring your athlete status.

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*Cue the Rocky Theme*

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We hung out for about 15 minutes waiting for the swim portion of the race to start. Hilary was in the third wave of swimmers, so we were able to watch the first two waves go out before she had to depart.

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This race was also like a Team in Training reunion. We ran into both our former coaches and several team members, including Jennifer!

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My sister is a goof and I love her.

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Her face just about sums up how I feel about the swim portion of a triathlon and triathlons in general. Despite her looking nervous, she totally rocked the swim.

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Comin’ out strong and heading to the transition area!

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One major bonus to being up so darn early and doing a race at Ft. Desoto is the beautiful scenery!

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By the time Erica and I made it back up to the transition area, Hilary had already taken off on her bike, so we waited to catch a glimpse of her biking from the side of the road. Can you spot her?

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After the bike, comes the run. While running is the part that I worry least about myself, it also happens last and I think my legs would be crazy tired. It was also about 9am at this point. The sun was out in full force and the weather was very hot and sticky. The announcer people kept says to HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE! Apparently athletes and spectators were passing out because of the heat.

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And she’s finishes!

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I am so proud of her and hopefully sometime soon we can do a triathlon together!

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And by sometime soon, I mean potentially next weekend. Hilary has grand plans that she will have me ready to do a super sprint tri by August 7th. I’m not entirely confident that I’ll be ready to do the swim portion by then. I’ve only been swimming twice in the past couple of months and it really wipes me out. If we can go swimming at least a few more times this week, then I’ll decide how I feel about the tri. If not, I’m going to try and aim for a different super sprint tri the first week of September.

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Other than swimming, I went bike riding for the first time in many years the other day. Apparently you can forget how to ride a bike, because it took me an embarrassing amount of time to figure out how to balance myself on the bike and put my feet in the pedals. I did figure it out eventually though.

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Victory!

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Really, the whole point of the bike ride, was so that Hilary could test out her new clip pedals for her new fancy-pants road bike.

As expected, she fell almost immediately.

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But don’t worry, she was okay and ready to get back in the saddle.

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Success!

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So basically, the past few days have been filled with lots of swimming and biking, and sadly, not enough running.

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Wiped Out and Wordless

This morning I woke up at 4:15am — on a Saturday. It’s been a long day, which was spent in the sun and riding bikes. So for tonight, I’ll just post some pictures and a promise for more explanation tomorrow!

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Oh, and one more thing… the blog’s going to be undergoing a bit of a face-lift / makeover soon. Here’s a hint as to one of the changes:

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Tour de Tally – A Guide to Tallahassee

Ever wondered when Tallahassee was established? What about how many colleges are actually located in Tallahassee? Or are you looking for some fun and interesting things to do in town? Well, I thought it would be fun to do a little introduction to Tallahassee in this post.

The title above is a shout out to my friends who lived in on the fourth floor Southgate in 2003! We always said we were going to make t-shirts that said “Tour de Tally” and then create our own tour of Tallahassee, but it never really happened. Here’s my own Tour de Tally.

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Tallahassee was established and became the capital of Florida in 1824. Tallahassee is located in north Florida. In reality, Tallahassee and the rest of the panhandle resemble the culture, weather, terrain, etc. of Georgia and the deep south, more so than they do the rest of Florida.

Florida map
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The culture of Tallahassee is best described as the rural south, which is obsured by all the politicans and college students.

Speaking of the government, Florida’s capitol building bears a striking resemblance to a phallus.

The Capitol of Florida
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Another embarassing fact about Florida? Our current governor happens to have a side job as the stunt double for Voldemort.

Rick Scott Totally Looks Like Lord Voldemort
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As for the college students, Tallahassee is home to three major higher education institutions and has satelite campuses for other schools, such as Saint Leo University, Thomas University, Keiser University, Barry University, and Flagler College.

Florida State University

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Florida A&M

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Tallahassee Community College

Tallahassee County Community College Seal

College students, phallic symbols, and Rick Scott aside, there’s actually a lot of beautiful aspects of Tallahassee. Since Tallahassee is really in south Georgia, it experiences a change of seasons and some cold, but not bitter, temperatures.

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There are also lots of beautiful parks, like Lake Ella…

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and the Maclay Botanical Gardens.

Brick path leading through gardens to Maclay House
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So, what are some of Tallahassee’s claims to fame?

Did you know that Tallahassee was referenced on Lost multiple times?

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Or that “On a Boat” rapper T-Pain’s “T” stands for Tallahassee?

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What about the one band that Tallahassee wishes they could disown? Well, that would probably be Creed.

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Enough of the silliness, what about places to eat, things to do, and art to see in Tallahassee?

When it comes to food, some my local favorites include:

1 Fresh Stir Fry

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Momo’s Pizza

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Gordo’s Cuban Food

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Hopkin’s Eatery

Red Elephant Pizza and Grill

Three Guys Pizza from New York

Tallahassee actually has a lot of things to do and keep people busy, you just need to know where to look:

There are lots of theatre companies.

Check out Railroad Square on First Friday (or any other time).

Take a history lesson at Mission San Luis.

Or buy some fresh fruit, vegetables, and flowers at the Downtown Market.

The Antique Car Museum also has loads more odds and ends to browse besides old cars.

If you’re looking for a glimpse of nature and science, visit the Museum of History and Natural Science.

Finally, if you want to take a short drive, check out Wakulla Springs.

When it comes to active healthy lifestyles, Tallahassee has a lot to offer:

Capital City Runners is the local running store and they do weekly runs from their store.

Gulf Winds Track Club keeps a list of all the local races and they have running clinics and training groups.

Running wise, there’s a spring time marathon and Spring Time Tallahassee 1 mile, 5k, and 10k.

New Leaf Market is a co-op health food store with a hot bar, juice bar, large selection of health and beauty products, and of course food.


Now that’d I’ve shared some of my favorite parts of Tallahassee, I want to know what I’m missing!

I’m hoping to explore as many new parts of Tallahassee as I can, so what should I check out? If you’re not from Tallahassee, what is the one thing you make sure to show out-of-town visitors when they come visit you?

Florida Love

Pardon my silence, life has been mostly uneventful for the past couple of days.

Sunday I packed up my stuff and headed back to St. Pete to visit with the family for a few days. It was almost sad that I essentially finished the house and then abandon it, but I want to maximize my time with the sister and family. I also was missing Charlie something terrible, so I had to come home to pick him up either way.

Signs you’re driving on US19:

  • Flat road
  • No other cars in sight
  • No turns, curves, or end of the road in sight
  • Rural scenery

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Signs you’re driving on the Suncoast Parkway:

  • Everybody driving home (with their boat) after a weekend on the Crystal River or Homosassa Springs
  • Sudden influx of cars, trucks, boats, etc.
  • Higher speed limits that don’t dip down to 35 mph randomly
  • No more side-of-the-road country stores that fly the rebel flag

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Signs you’ve hit I-275:

  • Congested traffic
  • Crazy drivers
  • Airplanes flying over the highway

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A sign that you’re almost home!

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Other than the trip home, I’ve been slowly working through my summer reading both poolside and at the beach.

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Look! It’s Jaws!

Okay, just kidding. It was really a dolphin sighting at the beach. I love seeing dolphins. For whatever reason, it makes me feel like a kid again.

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The theme for yesterday was “Takin’ Care of Business.”

I crossed a bunch of to-do’s off my list. I cashed checks. Registered for the graduate school orientation. Ordered transcripts showing the completion of my master’s for my PhD program. Paid my utility bill. Mailed back a swimsuit I was exchanging. And most importantly, I swapped my Washington driver’s license for a Florida driver’s license!

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Now I have a nice little collection of driver’s licenses. Hah. I didn’t intend to end up with three, but the Washington people only hole punched my old FL one and the I asked to keep the WA one, so she maimed it just a bit and gave it back to me. Anyway, I never felt right with the WA license. It was like I was an undercover spy or something.

I also investigated what I need to do to switch my car registration back to Florida and thankfully since I was once a FL resident they cut me a break and it’ll only cost $150ish, instead of $400-500. Still expensive, but I’ll take whatever breaks I can get.

Finally, the last stop of the day was a trip to Ikea. The sister needed to do some shopping to furnish her new apartment and I was hoping to find some cheap stuff to help organize my house.

Random thought: It’s kinda weird that each of us now have our own home. The sister has an apartment. I have a house. My parents have two houses. So strange. I guess the whole family as grown up.

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H got much more accomplished at Ikea than I did. I had run out of house shopping steam and only really bought the curtain rod, which I absolutely needed.

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On that note, I’ll leave you with a bit of Florida love.

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Feels Like Home

Did you see the “H[ome] & G[arden] KP” page at the top of the blog? All of the posts related to house-shopping and home makeover projects are linked on that page. Also, as I finish more projects, I’ll add those links too.

Guess what?! It’s finally time for the before and after pictures of the downstairs! Keep reading to see ‘em.

* * *

I can’t believe Borders is going out of business! I wish it was Barnes and Noble instead. I have so many high school and college memories connected to Borders. It’s sad. I went there this morning hoping to find plays for dirt cheap, but they were only 10% off, which is not much of a bargain at all.

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One of the other errands that I ran was a trip to Target to pick up more curtains. The front windows needed another panel or two to look right and my dad suggested that I swap the sliding glass door curtains with the front ones. The reason for the switcharoo is that the front curtains were about four years ago, but I just bought the sliding glass door ones. By switching them, I could buy more panels for the front window which needed them.

Then I tackled the stitch witchery project.

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I’m not a fan of ironing. I find it frustrating and never quite get all the wrinkles out, or even better, sometimes I make new wrinkles when I iron. Rawr.

Somehow I’ve managed to avoid using an iron for the past two years, but today has unfortunately made up for that.

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I spent about four hours ironing the curtains, followed by ironing the ribbon on to my curtains with the no-sew adhesive.

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The project wasn’t hard, just tedious. I realized about half way through that I should have picked up some starch spray to make the ironing go a bit easier. You know what would have also made the project easier? An ironing board. C’est la vie.

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When the curtains were done, I started cleaning up all the odds and ends that were living on the counters downstairs and breaking down boxes.

This is the drawer that I painted yesterday. It looks so much better painted and now all my pots and pans can hang out under the oven.

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Then I moved the outdoor table back to the deck, so now I have a nice, colorful deck set up!

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With all the furniture put into its new home and the stuff put away, I made a run to the trash with my Dexter-like construction trash bag.

Ready for the big reveal?

First, let’s flash back to the awful before pictures:
[edited to add pictures from the real estate website when the place oozed man-cave and hunting]

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Try to ignore me being ridiculous, if you can, and note the carpet, windows, wood work, and door.

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The back half of the house and kitchen.

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Entry way.

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Drum roll please!

The after —

The new entry way.

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The front half of the house with the stitch witched curtains.

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The back half of the house…

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The “dining room” table needs to be upgraded to something a bit bigger and rectangular someplace down the line. The current table fix perfectly in the “kitchen nook” I had in Washington, but it’s too small here. I really want something that can double as a work space or game table. I tend to rotate my work station every couple of months, so I want to be able to spread out and work downstairs if needed. Also, the kitchen itself is still a work in progress, but it’s looking good!

Projects I still to do include:

  • Decorate! Obviously, I have nothing on the walls yet and that needs to change.
  • Hang curtains in the office
  • Gardening
  • Paint the woodwork, cabinets, and doors in the three bathrooms.
  • Finish the flooring in the kitchen
  • Start/finish flooring in the bathrooms

Even though I have a few more things to do before everything is [mostly] finished, I can barely remember what house looked like when it was a man-cave.

Now it’s all ME. 🙂

Home Depot, Sweet, Home Depot

Another day, another trip to Home Depot.

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Actually, it was another day of unpacking, iced coffee, and reading.

Don’t be fooled by the Starbucks cup in the picture below. It’s really filled with delicious iced coffee from my new (borrowed) french press.

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As per the directions I found online, I brewed the coffee in cold water and let it steep (does coffee steep?) overnight.

You know how coffee smells one way, but tastes another? Well, my cold brewed coffee tasted the way coffee smells. So good.

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I took my coffee outside and read a little.

In an effort to improve my time management skills I set my phone alarm for an hour of outside reading before I headed inside to unpack.

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Today I managed to get all my clothes completely put away! I also put away most of my linens and shoes, so my room is 90% unpacked.

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Huzzah!

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You can see my bed, what an improvement!

Also, do you like the tie back curtain look? I did it on a whim when I found the green ribbon.

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This afternoon I ran some errands to get stuff to fix my curtains and paint my oven drawer.

This is the rusty before picture.

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Here it is all painted, but not dry…

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Tomorrow I’ll have the after picture.

I moved all the boxes of books upstairs and now my living room looks clean and finished.

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See the futon? Well, it works downstairs, but I still want to find a comfy couch and move the futon upstairs. My office really needs some furniture besides my desk.

What about the space underneath the window, see that? I want to put some cubes or a low bookshelf there to hold games, dvds, and fun books.

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Sadly, the kitchen and “dining” areas are still a mess, but that is tomorrow’s project.

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Either way, my house is really starting to feel like my house. Last week it didn’t feel like mine, but this week it does. I love it!

Finally, I thought I had grand plans to perform some stitch witchery on my curtains tonight, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.

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I want to curl up in my chair and read some Harry Potter.

Goodnight!

Some Assembly Required

Bright and early Wednesday morning U-Haul arrived to deliver my box ‘o stuff.

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It was a bit nerve-wracking watching the woman maneuver the box off the truck and position it in my parking space. I kept imagining the box falling off the forklift and all my worldly belongings being scattered over the parking lot.

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Regardless, I was just happy that it was someone else dealing with moving the box and not me.

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Unloading the box was much easier than loading it up back in Washington. With both my parents there to help and the fact that we didn’t have to strategically place things into the box, it took about an hour to take everything from the box and dump it into my house.

[Please excuse my grody appearance.]

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Dumping ground.

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All gone!

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My parents helped me assemble my Ikea furniture, start the un-packing process, and take care of a few other odds and ends, then they hit the road. It was sad to see them go.

Yesterday I also received an e-mail from my new advisor with summer reading assignments.

– Cut to today –

So this morning I started the day by enjoying my new deck chairs, a present from my sister, with homemade (!) iced coffee and some light reading on the theories of Foucault and Derrida

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As I was doing my reading, U-Haul came and picked the box up.

Buh-bye U-Box! You were a great help, but I’m happy to see you go!

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The rest of the day was spent slowly unpacking. I was just going to wait and post pictures after the whole unpacking progress is finished, but what the heck, I’ve decided to share a glimpse into my current state of chaos.

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I probably need to lower my curtain rods, but I think the curtains themselves work out well in my new room.

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I think one of the reasons I’m moving so slowly with the unpacking is because I’m trying to organize as I unpack, instead of just throwing everything into the general place it should belong… if that makes sense.

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I promise better pictures soon!

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After dinner I went back outside to do more reading, which sounded more much fun to unpacking… but man, I need to invest in a citronella candle ASAP.

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Goodbye Grimy Carpet, Hello Comfy Carpet!

So, that morning run? It didn’t happen, but I have new carpet!

The house is finally starting to come together. Tomorrow the U-Haul delivers my stuff and after a month of working on the house, I’ll almost be moved in!

I started the morning bright and early by moving everything off the carpet and putting the air mattresses into the bathrooms. Then I grabbed some Starbucks coffee for my morning of reading.

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It worked out well, because as soon as the carpet people arrived they began working simultaneously upstairs and downstairs, which meant I had to find something to hang out that wasn’t in the house.

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I moved my table outside and set up camp with my coffee and HP3.

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Every so often I’d pop inside to take some pictures and see how everything was progressing. The whole crew moved very efficiently, the old carpet and pad was out in about an hour.

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The new pad installed.

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As they pulled the old stuff out, they rolled it up and put in on the curb until they could load it into their truck.

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I really enjoyed my morning outside. It was nice to be forced out of the house sans internet and giving the chance to read, read, read.

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The head installer even gave me a hamburger for lunch. Too bad I’m a vegetarian and don’t really like fast food (meat).

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Around noon-ish I started to notice mosquitos and bugs flying around. I bought this all-natural bug spray the other day, because I wanted to avoid all the chemicals you can find in commercial sprays.

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Bug spray fail. Bummer.

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I snapped a picture of the “Surfari Party Bus.” I can’t figure out what the story is with this bus. Does the owner live in my neighborhood? Is it an actual bus? Is it some college student’s idea of a funny vehicle? Hopefully I’ll solve the mystery soon enough.

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By 1pm, I had fresh, new, clean, carpet! Check it out!

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My only gripe is that the installers managed to nick and ding some of my newly painted wood molding. I guess I’ll have to break out the white paint to touch things up sometime soon.

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Otherwise, I’m a very happy camper!   

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Majority Rules

Happy Monday, everyone!

After a fun-filled weekend, today was very boring. I read at Starbucks, ran some errands, and did some final painting before the carpet is installed tomorrow.

This morning my sister sent me a Lowe’s gift card, since we didn’t have time to go pick up the adirondack chair that I wanted.

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The fact that I was stoked to receive a Lowe’s gift card make me laugh, because the me-of-a-year-ago would have scoffed at the me-of-today. It’s so funny how people can grow and their interests can change so quickly.

I went to the post office to pick up this form. Hopefully I won’t receive any more mail that doesn’t belong to me.

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I also scheduled my U-Box to be delivered on Wednesday morning. I had the option of picking it up on Tuesday, but that would have required me (or my dad) to drive a U-Haul truck and a trailer, so I voted no. I’ll gladly let U-Haul deliver the box to my door for $55, thank you very much.

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It appears that everyone has voted and the majority rules. The door is a no-go. I’m a little sad, I liked the splash of color, but today I repainted it back to plain white.

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I touched up a couple of other areas that needed more white paint, then moved onto the pantry doors.

It’ll need a few coats, but look at the difference the white paint made!

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I’m going to bed early tonight.

In theory, I’m going to go for a run tomorrow morning, then I’ll clean up the house so the carpeted areas are clear, and by the afternoon I’ll have new, clean carpet!