Random Saturdays – Lego’s New(ish) Desk

Ah Pinterest.  The place where dreams and imaginations run wild while my actual butt sits in a chair.  I do use Pinterest for inspiration for plenty of things that I actually do, but that hasn’t really been much in terms of home improvement projects.  I’m always sick, working, trying to sleep, or otherwise busy.  However, I am here to make an announcement.

I have completed my first furniture makeover project!

*and my mom slow claps* 

*and the crowd goes wild*

Lego had a decent desk, but it’s ugly as crud.  It’s been through some incidents including candle wax, paint or nail polish of some sort, rogue screws, and who knows what else.  I wanted to redo this desk for him for awhile and thought it would make a great birthday present.  When his birthday came around, I was tied up in the middle of nowhere, watching three other teams play football while their parents yelled things like, “Hurt ‘im good!” until it was Lego’s and Minecraft’s turns to play.  Then, Ben and I went to Lowe’s to get a few things and I saw some Oops  Paint in colors that Lego would like.  I decided that since I kinda had a window of time, I might as well redo the desk.  So, I bought the paint.  Researching the desk, I decided to use this plan on Pinterest with these points in mind.  Before starting, these are the supplies I gathered:

Piece of crappy looking laminate furniture
150 – 220 grit sandpaper that my husband had sitting in a filing cabinet
Tack Cloths
2 cans of Rust Oleum 280715 American Accents Ultra Cover 2X Spray Paint, White Primer, 12-Ounce
Paint
6 in mini roller
Paint pan thingy (I just bought a kit – easy & cheap)
Mini foam paintbrushes for tight spots (I had some already in a drawer for another craft that I never did.)
Top Coat (My husband’s had good results with Minwax in the past, so I just got that.)
Plastic tarp, plastic bags, old fabric, or cardboard to lay under your work area
Respirator or face masks (I didn’t realize that I needed these until after I did the project and my nosehairs were covered in primer.)
Screwdriver, Xacto knife, and hammer (depending on what kinds of pieces you have on the desk)

Step 1 – Tell your stepson to take everything off of his desk except for his computer if he wants a surprise from you the next time he sees you.  You may have to do this twice in order to get him to remove 75% of the stuff from his desk.
Step 2 – Remove all the crap off the desk when your stepson is gone.  Shove it all out of the way.  Shove any other furniture as far as you can get it from the ugly desk too.  Pick up all the crap on the floor around the desk and vacuum around your work area.  Remove any hardware or broken parts from the desk using a screwdriver or sledgehammer.  I ended up with lots of screws and hinges to donate to future projects, a door that will be turned into a shelf in another room, and some junk to throw in the trash.

Step 3 – Ask your husband to move the pallets he painted out of the way so you can get to the plastic sheets you use for painting.  When he doesn’t do that, tear apart some large cardboard boxes from stuff he’s ordered and place it under your work area.  This will assure that your husband finally gets your plastic wrap out for you to use.

Step 4 – Lightly sand the desk.  When you find crud on it, use your handy dandy box cutter to scrape that junk off the ugly desk.  You may discover that large chunks of fake wood are missing from the desk as well.  So, you’ll probably have to go downstairs and ask your husband where the wood filler is.  If you’re lucky, he’ll know where it is off the top of his head.  Now, you can go back upstairs and fill that fake wood with faker wood.  (Follow the directions on the bottle, more or less.)
Untitled Step 5 – Use tack cloth to wipe down the desk.  This is where you remember you were supposed to wipe down the desk with vinegar and water or something before you sanded it.  You’ll also forget that you had that wood filling stuff that needed to dry before you did anything else to the desk, but that’s okay because it’s in an inconspicuous area and will be hidden behind another piece of furniture anyway. Untitled

Step 6 – Forget what the next step is and check Pinterest.
brokepinterest

Step 7 – Now it’s time to open up some windows because you are about to prime your desk.  Read the directions on the primer and follow them carefully.  When you are done, make sure that the desk is left in a ventilated room while you go somewhere that will allow you to breathe for a few hours.  This is when your husband will ask you if you need that plastic wrap stuff again.  For the second time today, reply, “Not anymore, thank you.”  Ask him if you have primer on your nose hairs so that he can make fun of you for not using any of his respirators or face masks that you didn’t realize he had.  Wait a few hours for the primer to dry while half of your brain cells die.  Go ahead and make an appointment with the respiratory therapist while you’re at it.  You might not remember to do it later.
Untitled

Step 8 – Ready to actual do some painting?  Good.  The weather probably isn’t right for painting anymore, randomly dropping 40 degrees, but once it warms up again, you can try.  Pop open your can of paint and stir it up real good with a paint stick.  The color will be completely different from the color on the paint can and you’ll understand why this was Oops Paint.  Pour your wrong-color paint into your plastic paint thingy and get your paint roller ready for fun.  Dip the roller in the paint and then roll it over the bumpy parts of the plastic thing.  Roll paint the hell outta that desk.  You will find it interesting how some parts of the desk are immediately covered with paint and other parts are not.  Paint will get all over the cardboard on the floor, but none within the bottom 4 inches of the desk.  You will keep finding places on the desk where you have forgotten to roller paint. Step 9 – When you’ve covered the desk in paint, go back over the smaller areas/missed spots with your sponge brush.  Don’t ask me what the best method is.  I approached this like a child with fingerpaints, just mushing color anywhere that my tiny arms would reach.  You can go over paint drips if they’re still wet, but will otherwise need to wait to sand them down once they’re dry (unless you’re lazy like me.) Untitled

Step 10 – Let your paint dry.  Mine only took about an hour, but I had to log on to work, so I couldn’t put the finish on it right away.

Step 11 –  If you painted the desk correctly, then you pulled a muscle in your back or something and can only sit or lay for the rest of the next day.  Make sure that water and ibuprofen are within arm’s reach.

Step 12 – When you are able to move again, go back upstairs and open up a window.  Spray a coat of the top coat over the painted areas of the desk.  It should dry in an hour or two.  If your back spasmed while you did this, then you should just turn on the ceiling fan and leave the room.  These cheap desks aren’t meant to last a lifetime anyway.  Plus, your lack of skill and broken back will ensure that the desk has that coveted “rustic” look that so many bloggers envy.

Step 13 – At some point (48 hours to 6 weeks) the desk should dry.  Dispose of the junk you used to halfway protect the carpet and try to move the desk back into place without pulling any muscles.  Wait until the last possible minute to put anything on the desk, and then wait a day or two more, especially if the desk is for your beloved stepson.  He’ll appreciate the time it took you to get distracted with work and laundry and dinner and work and more laundry and more work.  Having no desk will make him feel like a Native American, able to live off the land armed with only centuries of ancient wisdom and an iPad.

That’s it!  You’re done!  You have successfully Pinterested an ugly fake wood desk into a rustic piece of furniture that your family will cherish for hours to come.  Give yourself a pat on the back if you still have any upper body mobility!

Random Saturdays – Christmas Treats

Christmas is not even here yet, but I have partaken in many a Christmas treat.  Allow me to share some of my favorite goodies that have helped me fatten up and stay warm this Christmas season.

Caramel Apple Praline Cookies – Central Market
Someone at work brought these to our team and they were so delicious!  Dried apple pieces, caramel, chopped almonds and pecans…If it weren’t for all the sugar, they’d be pretty healthy.

Chocolate Cherries – Marich
These are dried cherries covered in chocolate.  The cherries are soft and the chocolate is smooth.  They’re so rich that I can’t eat more than two at a time.  How crazy is that?!

Holiday Popcorn Tins
It doesn’t matter what brand it is, I love popcorn.  I love the holiday popcorn tins because they’re cute and they usually have flavors you don’t get the rest of the year either.  Oh, and they’re everywhere.  I went through two tins (almost entirely on my own) before I stopped because my gums were torn up and the only popcorn left was maple and bacon flavor.  Even Blackish shouted out to the wonderfulness that is multiple flavors of popcorn in one container.

Jacobsen’s Danish Butter Cookies – World Market
These cookies are everywhere are Christmastime.  My beloved husband turns his nose up at most brands because they only have one kind of cookie with the giant sugar crystals on them.  Jacobsen’s has three different kinds of cookies with the giant sugar crystals on them.  Eseentially, they’re all made of the same cookie dough, but in different shapes.  Something about the sugar crystals makes them feel more special, though.

I’m too hungry to continue this list now.  Let me know if I forgot anything particularly yummy so that I can eat it!

To Vote or Not To Vote

November 8th will be my 5th opportunity to vote for the president of the U.S.  That means that in my voting life, I’ve only been able to vote during some really jacked up elections with extreme issues and world problems on the line.  The first election during which I was old enough to vote was Bush, Jr. vs Gore.  There was so much wrong with that election – the candidates, the Nader “throwaway” votes, voting system scandals, etc.  This election time, the U.S. is voting on Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump or a bunch of other people who have no chance of winning.

How did we get to this place???

We can speculate from a logical standpoint, from a historical standpoint, from a political standpoint, or from a ridiculous standpoint.  The truth is, none of that matters.  Those are our choices and there’s no going back now.  Due to the lack of support behind either candidate for most Americans, I think we are going to have record low voter turnouts this year.  That makes me pretty sad.

Women have had the right to vote for less than 100 years in the U.S.  The country was established over 200 years ago, but we’ve only been able to vote for less than half of that time.  Women outnumber men in this country.  A woman is running for president this election term.  Most of the women I know (who live in the metroplex) are not voting.

That’s not to say that I think that women should vote for Hillary Clinton just because she’s a woman.  I just think that they should vote.  Even if you think it’s a throwaway vote, it’s not.  Find someone on the ballot whose record supports your values as much as possible and vote for that person. That is the best way to get out of this two system voting party craziness that leaves so many Americans feeling like their votes don’t matter.

More importantly, there are other offices and issues on the ballot that will affect your everyday life directly.  Don’t let the presidential election overshadow local elections and propositions that will affect your housing taxes, education policies, local businesses, and even the cleanliness of your drinking water.  It’s not too late to learn about all of the other important issues on the ballot and vote.  You don’t have to pay money to vote.  Voting doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have to do jury duty (even though it’s your civic duty and you should be proud to be included in the process no matter how much of a pain in the butt it can be), and you can take notes into the voting booth with you so that you don’t have to remember exactly how you want to vote on every issue or seat.  Here are some great resources to help you navigate your local elections and issues on this year’s ballot:

League of Women Voters – Don’t be fooled;  this isn’t a women-only resource.  After women gained the right to vote, they wanted to make sure that everyone had the opportunity to make informed choices.  So, they switched gears from suffrage to voter education.  They do a great job of questioning candidates on issues and providing answers on common voter questions.  Just go to the site above and enter your address to find info for your area.

Local Newspaper Websites – The Dallas Morning News has a great Voter Guide, and if your values align with that of the paper’s, you can even see which candidates they endorse for each office.  If you enjoy more independent magazines and newspapers, look up their websites and they can help you find candidates and issues that align with your values.

Google – Type in Voter Guide 2016 and you can search for early voting guidelines, voting locations, ballot issues, etc.  If you’re wondering about a specific race, candidate, or issue, type that into Google and off you go.

Whatever you do, don’t think that your vote doesn’t matter.  It does.  If everyone who didn’t think her vote mattered actually voted, we could see more options on the ballot and politicians would realize that they are directly accountable to their constituents.

Since I’m in Texas, I’m going to offer a couple of FYIs for my fellow Texans:

  • Early Voting is October 11 – November 5.
  • Statewide elections are being held for important positions like Railroad Commissioner, State Supreme Court Justices, State Appeals Court Justices (this is where your Making of a Murderer and the Serial podcasts addictions matter!), and House Representative.

Random Saturdays – Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise

FULL DISCLOSURE – Jack and I are blogging buddies.  He gave me an advanced review copy of his eBook, but did not pay me or beat me into the agreement to review the book.  He requested only that I read the book and give an honest opinion of it during the week of its release.  I agreed because I wanted to read the book before everyone else.  Suckers!

Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise will be released on Tuesday, October 20th.  This is the third book in a series written by my buddy, Jack Flacco.  I will say right now that this book made me cry.

Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise

Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise

From reading the previous books, I’m fond of Ranger and his rag tag group of kids.  I call them kids, but by the third book, even Jon, the youngest, has lost all traces of childhood.  I guess you have to grow up pretty quickly during the Zombie Apocalypse.  I wouldn’t know, having never been through one and intending to kill myself immediately upon hearing of at least five dead people who are eating living people.

In this book, Ranger and his crew hear about a place called Paradise where he and the kids might finally be able to live in a world without 24 x 7 adrenaline battles.  Could it be too good to be true?  Before they could figure that out, they’d have to get to Paradise, and travelling anywhere in the Zombie Apocalypse is a trying task.  They meet new people and run into old allies along the way.

As with the others, the book starts out in media res, so it’s hard to get a grip on what’s going on at first.  I assume that’s intended by the author to make the reader as disoriented as the characters must be.    When Ranger’s group stumbles upon another group, they seem to grow close quickly.  There’s a reason, but it was still a bit too quick for me.  It felt like that part of the movie where you see something happen quickly with one line as an explanation and you yell at the screen, “Oh, the book goes into it much more than that!”  Moving through the story, there are some flashbacks that explain a bit more of Ranger’s past than before, which was nice.  Although, I’m not sure that it moved the story forward much at this point.  When the group decides to set out for Paradise, the real action starts.  Jack excels at, “Woo!  That was close!  Oh crap, it’s not over yet?!?!” moments.  It’s quite a battle to get to Paradise, but when I saw how many pages were left before the group could get into Paradise, I knew that I wouldn’t be enjoying a peaceful ending any time soon.

If you like your endings tied up in a pretty package, then you will hate the end of this book.  Initially, I was mad, wondering if there were going to be more books even though this was supposed to be a trilogy.  Then, I let it settle in and came to accept the ending as fitting to the zombie genre in general.  Good zombie books and movies do not have pretty endings.  They always leave you with questions and they always leave you wanting more.  For Ranger Martin and his group of adolescent comrades, it would be unfitting to have the group live happily ever after.  Overall, I’m pleased with the series and this was a pretty exciting read.

I will admit that there are some misspellings and poor grammar sprinkled throughout the book.  Jack wrote and published the book himself, so it’s hard to get everything as sparkling clean as expensive publishing houses require.  Even then, a certain red-headed wizard in a very well-known book series was referred to by the name of the actor who played him in the movie, rather than the book character’s name.  I have read some other self-published works that were just too painful to slog through at all, no matter how much I wanted to like the book or how free the book was.  If’ you’re unsure, go ahead and read the first chapter on Jack’s site.  Then, buy the book.  It’s a relatively quick and easy read that will keep you engaged and excited.  I’m grateful that Jack gave me the opportunity to read and review the book in advance.  I’m still waiting to see how he tackles leprechauns and unicorns, though.

Random Saturdays – Food Love

I recently decided to try subscribing to Love with Food.  Each month, you get a box of snacks sent to you along with coupons and information on that month’s charity.  With every food box sold, the company donates one meal to feed the hungry.  Considering that similar snacks sell in the vending machines at work for around $2, the price and cause make the monthly Love with Food box very reasonable.  Honestly, I liked some of the snacks better than others, but that’s another plus of the food box.  You can try things without committing to jumbo bags of something that you might not like.

September was the Smarty Pants Tasting Box.  Like I said, it was hit and miss, but here’s what I thought:

  • Adult Complete Pack by Smarty Pants – These were gummy vitamins, but since they had gelatin and I don’t really like gummies, I didn’t try them.  I gave one to Dora and one to Lego and they liked them.  You have to eat like, 6 gummies to get your daily dose of vitamins.  So, it might be a better option for kids, who need smaller doses.  For now, I’ll stick to my regular multivitamins and supplements.
  • Sea Salt Caramel Apple by Bear Naked – Delicious!  I tried it alone and stirred into some Chobani Pumpkin Yogurt (bought separately).  Brilliant combination!
  • Mini Peanut Butter Clutter by JimmyBar! – This made me feel like I was eating a very fancy fig bar without the cakey part.  It wasn’t too sweet, not hard, not gloopy.  I was impressed.
  • Cookie Thins (Cake Batter OR Chocolate Chip) by Mrs. Thinsters – I had Cake Batter flavor in my box and they were super delicous!  The cookies were crisp, thin, vanilla-y, and buttery.  They may have been too buttery because they left a bunch of butter on my fingers.  I told myself that made the cookies healthy, since I wasn’t ingesting all of  those calories.
  • Pretzel Crisps® Gluten Free Original Minis by Snack Factory® – I have had these before, but not the gluten free variety.  They were very crunchy, but had a weird aftertaste.  I’ll stick to regular pretzel crisps, but this seems like a good alternative for people with celiac’s disease.
  • Cheddar n’ Stuff SUPER CRACKERS by Funley’s Delicious – The package says the crackers have broccoli in them, but that you won’t be able to tell.  They are yummy and they are cheesy.  I didn’t taste broccoli, but I tasted a deeper flavor than what you’d expect with a cheddar cheese cracker.  I’d buy them in the store, for sure.
  • Harvest Snaps Snapea by Calbee – These were the most surprising item in the box.  They tasted like fancy potato chips.  I don’t mean fancy potato chips with crazy flavors or anything, just the kind of potato chips you find in the organic section of the grocery store, you know, preservative free, “organic”, blah blah blah.  I had no idea that peas could taste like potato chips!
  • Fruit Snacks by YumEarth – These were yummy and cute.  While I don’t like gummies much, I do like fruit snacks, but I don’t eat them.  Dora and Lego are supposed to avoid fruit snacks because they already have tooth problems, so I didn’t feel bad eating these.  They were good and a nice snack, but I don’t think I’ll add them to my regular grocery store trips any time soon.

If you’re looking to try a food subscription, this is a nice one to try.  I’m pretty happy with the results, so I’m going to keep my subscription.  In fact, I think I’ll go ahead and do the year subscription for the biggest discount.

Random Saturdays – Our Friend, Ron

Well, well, well, if it isn’t me again.  It’s been awhile since I last wrote, I know.  It’s mostly due to lack of time.  I used to have a very structured life with lots of routines, but it was very empty.  If I had a lack of time, it was usually because I was so depressed that all I could do was sleep.  When I came out of my depression phases, I had to “catch up” on life.  Now, my life is very full, but there’s not much structure or routine.  I’m fine with that, though.  Ben continually apologizes for messing up my routines, but I keep reassuring him that losing my routines is a very small sacrifice for all the good stuff in my life now.

All that being said, I’ve had some recent changes at work that also allow me a bit of spare time during the day to write a few sentences here and there for this blog.  Yay!

So, I delayed writing a blog post for awhile because I had to think of something to say again.  So much has happened and there are so many funny stories to share, but that just seems overwhelming.  Then, I remembered, this is just a blog and my mom followers probably won’t be as critical of this post as I am of theirs it.

Though this post won’t publish until Saturday, I’m actually starting it on Mardi Gras aka Fat Tuesday.  At lunch today, Ron mentioned to us that it was Fat Tuesday and I was sad that I didn’t eat more.  My goal is to make up for it at dinner.  I mean, every Tuesday is fat Tuesday for me, but this is Fat Tuesday, like, with both first letters in both words capitalized.  Granted, I don’t observe Lent, but at least I half-ass celebrate something, right?

Let me tell you about my friend, Ron.  He’s filling a position in our group that, since I have been there, has only been filled by crazy a-holes.  Ron is super cool, though.  He gets the group’s weird humor and is sharp as a tack.  He’s also from da skreets like me.  He and Erica are actually closer than he and I are.  I started calling them Ronica last week.  The three of us, though, are Ronicagela, which was too much, so we shortened it to Ronicala, which is still too much.  We were joking last week about getting a Best Friends necklace that was broken into 3 parts.  I still have at least one of those from when Erica and I were kids.  Erica bought us an Oreo cookie necklace to share – Ron and I are cookies and she’s the filling (because we’re Black and she’s White and we’re all racist.)

So, this is not a particularly interesting post, I suppose, but it’s definitely laying the groundwork for future Ronicala stories.  Here is a short list of other topics I considered discussing:

1.  The Minecraft birthday party we planned for Ben’s son this weekend

CM Bingo Trophy

Minecraft goodie bag

2.  The steady stream of illnesses I’ve had since I started dating Ben aka Building my immune system after years of being isolated and alone

3.  Getting stuck in Paris and spending $3000 on a flight home (I spent $1175 on the original RT ticket from US Airways and got $382 of it refunded.  I only had to file for a refund twice.  Boo!)  Speaking of Paris, here is a link to the photos I took while there.

Thanks for reading my return to blogdom!

Diet Soda Mixed With Alcohol Could Lead To Higher BAC, Study Finds

Diet Soda Mixed With Alcohol Could Lead To Higher BAC, Study Finds

What I’m getting from this is that regular soda + alcohol is healthy.  Admittedly, I might have just skimmed the article, but I’m still adding this to my list of reasons for not drinking diet sodas.