Home Office Upgrade

I’m not exactly what you’d call a “DIY” kind of girl. I’m more of an “order online while wearing yoga pants and drinking red wine” kind of girl. That’s a thing, right? I mean, I want to be… I have a whole Pinterest board just mocking me with all the amazing, homemade, affordable crafts I could be whipping up to turn my house into the rustic farmhouse wonderland I’ve always wanted it to be.

But Joanna Gaines lied to me. It’s not a magical fun time with perfect results. By the time you round up all the necessary parts and tools and shop for all the stuff, you realize you’ve spent hundreds of dollars and made about 6 extra trips just to get everything you need. By then you already hate your project with the fire of a thousand suns so you have to make ANOTHER trip to get some more red wine and cookies for stress eating, and at this point wonder why you ever got off the couch in the first place. And you haven’t even started the “DI” part of DIY yet.

Ughhhhh. But I keep trying. I keep buying supplies and I keep hoping some of these things are going to turn out. I mean, the bottom line, truth of the matter is that DIY projects are A LOT OF WORK and you kind of have to know what you’re doing going in or you’re going to go crazy. I prefer to be the “idea girl” and watch Gil execute on things. Or shop. I really just prefer to shop.

But sometimes life throws you off balance a little, like when you take a new job at a start-up where you aren’t making nearly as much as you were before and realize YOU CAN’T AFFORD SHIT ANYMORE.  So you have to get creative.

Or in my case, you have to have in-laws who are creative and willing to share their time and skills (I’ll get to that part in a minute).

When I first started redoing my home office, I had a lot of grand ideas. Since I work from home and spend a ton of time in here, we made it one of our first projects to try to get totally done, so I’d have a zen space for my sometimes very stressful days.

This was a kid’s room before and while I don’t have pictures of the weird giant flower pictures that were bolted on the wall, I do have evidence of the terrible shade of yellow and icky curtains that were happening:

office - before

Blech. No thanks. Gil and I painted the walls a nice taupe and tore those curtains down, and my parents and I replaced the baseboards. And I added a giant fur rug of course.

office pic.jpg

But on the opposite wall, I had wanted to do some kind of show-stopping accent wall. Like a giant wall of flowers. Or since I was on a rustic kick, some kind of wood wall. Luckily for me, Pinterest had the answer. There is a company called Stikwood that sells these peel and stick wood plank pieces. Now, I haven’t seen them in person so I have no idea if it’s just super thin real wood, or if they look more like stickers. Either way, I was really impressed with the pictures and was ready to buy.


Only one problem. For the size of the wall I wanted to do, it would run me around $1,600. Ouch. Maybe if I still had commission checks rolling in and my old mortgage on the condo, but in this life that wasn’t gonna fly.

So I did nothing. We just painted that wall and I figured at some point I would figure out what to do with it. In the meantime, I had shared the Stikwood site with my mother-in-law and she LOVED it (because we basically have the exact same taste in things). And she IS what you would call a DIY girl. She has done so much work on their house, from stenciling the walls, to creating these beautiful mosaic pieces in the yard and in the guest shower.

So she decided to DIY the look and she and her husband bought the supplies and made it happen. This is why you always want someone else to go first on these kinds of things… she told me all about the things she learned on the project and what she’d do differently. And that she and my my father-in-law had time this summer if I wanted to do my office wall.

SOLD! So we planned a weekend for them to come down and help us. And then Gil and I adopted a dog a day before they arrived. I’m a great planner that way. (Don’t worry, we all survived just fine. The dog didn’t start running away until weeks after, but that’s a story for another day).

Guys, we did the whole project in ONE DAY. It was a long day. And super hot. And weirdly humid. And I wound up sweating so much I rubbed my inner thigh and butt skin raw. BUT I MADE SOMETHING WITH MY HANDS THAT LOOKS LIKE A REAL THING.

Well, I helped. My mother-in-law and I did all the prep work for the wood – we sanded it, stained it, painted it, and sanded it again. The boys measured, cut, and nailed it all in. I’ll show you exactly what we used to do it, but first LOOK AT MY GORGEOUS OFFICE WALL. LOOK AT IT.

office - after

office - after close up

office wall after

It looks BETTER than that Stikwood stuff. And guess how much the whole project cost me? Guess!!! Less than $300.

We got bender board from the garden section of the hardware store, and it was a weird light reddish color when we got it and really rough. I think it was around $2/board. Cost for wood: $160. We just sanded those strips down and then hit them with Minwax stain in Espresso. It took way more stain than we thought it would since we tested a few and the wood soaked it up so fast, so I had to go out for more. Cost for the stain: $50

office stain

Once the stain set, we painted over it with white paint. Cost: $30

office paint

Once that dried, we just hit it with an orbital sander to get the desired effect, which we already had so didn’t cost us a penny.

There was the unforeseen cost of extra brushes, rags, etc as well, along with one bra casualty when I exploded one of the stains all over myself.

ruined bra

But all in all, coming in under $300 and turning out something even more beautiful than the pictures I see on Pinterest almost makes me want to DIY this whole house.


When It Rains, It Pours

It makes me really sad that I haven’t had the mental or emotional energy to write in so long. There has been A LOT going on and it will take many blog posts and many nights to really do it all justice, but here’s a short recap:

  • Diagnosed with sleep apnea – slept an average of about 2 hours a night for the first 6 weeks after I got my CPAP machine. They keep telling me I’ll die an early death without it, but so far all it’s done is spike my blood pressure and anxiety and prevent me from sleeping through the night.
  • Was in the ER for mystery stomach pain and abnormal blood work. Many tests and almost $6K out of pocket later, still no definitive answer other than ovarian cysts and possibly IBS.
  • Found out there was extensive gum damage and swelling as a result of the sleep apnea and a medication I was on, and wound up having to have multiple gum surgeries (another $7K out of pocket).
  • Somewhere in all this, decided moving to Colorado was really too far away from my (and Gil’s) family, so completely overhauled our relocation plans.
  • Sold my condo.
  • Bought a new house on 7 acres, 3 hours away from where we are now.
  • Struggled to find homeowners insurance on said house. Finally able to obtain it if we were classified as a HOBBY GOAT FARM.
  • Oh, and Gil proposed on a trip to Colorado so now we’re technically engaged. I say “technically” because we were already committed and we’re waiting til he finishes school to get married, and then we’re eloping so no one will even know it’s happening until it’s already happened. But I have a badass ring and am officially his property now… wait, no, that doesn’t sound right. But we’re engaged, and that makes me happy.

So to recap my recap…. it’s been really overwhelming the last few months, but things are turning around. And I’m getting GOATS. So there’s that.

Right now is all about talking about packing (we move in less than 2 weeks and haven’t exactly started) and debating over which kind of goats we’re going to get. Essentially the only thing my brain can handle at this point is researching different kinds of pygmy goats and how friendly each different breed is – not thinking about all the work that has to be done on the house, or the headaches I’ll have getting my new home office set-up, or all my unresolved health stuff and the fact I have to find all new doctors and specialists.

I’m focused more on the goats than the packing, because that’s way more fun. Gil also keeps threatening to eat our future pet goats, so I don’t think we’re done debating about this.

Also, I decided it would be a fabulous plan to go on the hunt for a 12 foot tall dinosaur that I could park at the end of our dirt driveway at the new house so people could ALWAYS find us, and I could say things like “Just turn left at the dinosaur.” I’d seen them in Half Moon Bay, so this past weekend my parents and I went out looking. We found it. And it was glorious.


Unfortunately for me, it turns out that “glorious” comes with a hefty price tag: $3K. Considering the numbers on all that house paperwork I just signed and all the medical expenses this year so far, even I couldn’t justify that cost. Trust me, I tried. I really did. But also, I’d like to live in that house for years, and I’m not sure parking a 12 foot tall dinosaur in the road is the best way to get off on the right foot with all my new neighbors.

So I went on the hunt for something more “appropriate” – and just 100 feet into the metal gallery I was shopping in, I FOUND IT. My beautiful new rooster. Literally just a couple inches shorter than me, and as loud and obnoxious as you can imagine – it’s like my metal spirit animal.


And I checked with Gil – it’s definitely a rooster, not a chicken. I asked how you can tell the difference and he just shook his head at me. Then again, when he told me he wanted to have chickens on our property so we could have eggs, my first question was if you could just rent a rooster instead of owning one, since I didn’t want to be woken up at 5AM. Turns out chickens make eggs all on their own, without a rent-a-rooster making the rounds. I had no idea. I’m totally going to rock this whole living in the country, having a goat farm thing.

But back to my amazing find at the metal gallery.  It’s ALMOST $3K cheaper than my initial pick, so it would be really irresponsible for me NOT to buy it. Because not having some sort of animal statue at the end of the drive just really isn’t an option. PLUS, now I can tell people to turn left AT THE GIANT COCK.

I couldn’t fit it in my car, so he’s not actually mine yet, but he will be. Gil agreed to go get him for me (it’s about 45 minutes away) with his truck and then bring him back to pack him into the moving truck we’re renting. Forget engagement rings – THAT is true love.

So basically I’m living exactly the life I want right now – where transporting a 5 foot tall metal rooster is my number one priority, and the only thing I’m allowing myself to stress about is what I’m going to name him.

Considering the year I’ve had so far, everything else can just wait.

I’m In A Relationship With A Ninja… It’s Serious

When I tell you I’m in a serious relationship with a Ninja, I hope you’re picturing exactly what I’m picturing… a stealthy, pajama clad warrior wearing all black doing flips around my condo. I actually don’t think Gil would stand for that. And I’m pretty sure shotgun > nunchucks. No, this Ninja came in a box from Amazon, which is where I do basically all my shopping now (I love you Amazon Prime).

I recently bought a Nutri Ninja Pro, specifically so that I could make smoothies in smoothie blender travel cups that I could take in the car on the way to work. All because I read an article somewhere about all these very professional women who were more successful than me, talking about their morning routines. Hey, if I can’t have their careers, I can at least have their goddamn breakfast and their secrets to 5 minute makeup!

I’m sure there was some sage career advice sprinkled in there, but the article was mainly focused on the awesome ways they started their awesome days. I skipped through any of them that advocated starting your day before 6 AM, because they must be monsters. Pass.

So the main takeaway I was left with was one of them commenting that she starts her day with a green smoothie. That way, if she gets too busy for lunch and doesn’t get enough vegetables in that day, she knows she at least started the day with some greens and that’s an accomplishment no matter how the rest of her day goes.

Well first of all, I’m pretty sure I can always find time for lunch. If you’re one of those people who says they just “forgot” to eat, I’m pretty sure we can’t be friends. Second of all, if I don’t get all my veggies in for the day, it’s not because I was too busy… unless you count ordering pizza and having a Netflix marathon as being too busy. In which case, yes I actually was too busy.

Either way, it stuck with me. So I did the only logical thing I could do, which was go on Amazon, read a total of 2 reviews and promptly buy myself a new toy. BEST TOY EVER. Actually, that’s a lie – I’ve bought better electric toys on Amazon… but we can talk about that later.

This one ranks up there though, and it’s almost as good a mood booster as the other one.

And it really is true… I start my day feeling like I made a healthy choice, and not to sound gross and preachy, but it DOES wind up motivating me to make more healthy choices throughout the day. Plus I feel better about the chocolate I inhale about 2 hours after lunch (I said MORE healthy choices, not ALL healthy choices).

Incidentally, it is also very convenient for making milkshakes, as I discovered when Gil was recovering from some nasty dental work recently.

Gil isn’t as jealous as if it were a real Ninja man I was obsessed with, but I can tell he’s tired of hearing about it. He told me the other day I should give up the tech sales racket and start selling Ninjas. When I paused to think about it he just sighed and walked away.

Behold, my new Ninja boyfriend:




I have high hopes that my new Ninja boyfriend and I will work out. I’ve had similar relationships in the past, but I don’t think I was ready to commit.

That time with the juicer was just a fling… I saw a friend with hers and just got jealous, so went out and picked up the first one I could find. I didn’t think it through. And now it sits alone in my kitchen, taking up valuable counter space because it’s too big for the cabinet and part of me believes if I keep staring at it every day, I’ll finally feel guilty enough to rekindle what we started.

The truth is it will probably wind up at my parents’ house like the very expensive treadmill I bought 6 years ago when I was living at home. The best workout I ever got from that thing was helping my dad lug it up the stairs and holding all the parts in place to put it together. It’s in that room forever now. When they move, they’re going to have to sell it with the house.

But that was 6 years ago. I’m older now, and wiser. I make better decisions.

Actually, that’s probably only true when it comes to actual men. I’m still an impulse buyer everywhere else. I still jump in too fast sometimes and have a hard time making it last. I’m on Realtor.com right now looking for houses with more storage. Thank god they don’t sell homes on Amazon or we might really have a problem.

Activity Trackers And Me

OK, let me just start by saying I have a bit of a shopping addiction. I have in under control (mostly) but I’m kind of an impulse purchase type of girl. If it’s new and it’s trendy, I’m probably paying attention. You may have seen my post the other day about wearable vibrators … I’m not embarrassed to tell you I pre-ordered mine. I mean, how could I resist?

I’m lucky enough to have disposable income and no hefty financial responsibilities other than myself and my mortgage, so I play it a little fast and loose sometimes. Which is why when the Fitbit Flex was announced in 2012, I pre-ordered one of those bad boys too. I was trying to get healthier and did my research on the different wrist trackers out there – I really wanted one that was compatible with MyFitnessPal and I liked the idea of a bracelet. And even though I think some of the other options were more stylish, I went with the Flex because it met all of my needs.

Only problem was that by the time it arrived, I had shattered my ankle and had major surgery. I was on crutches for three months and in physical therapy for months after that. I wasn’t so much concerned with tracking my steps as I was being able to make them at all.

Fast forward a few months and I finally got excited about my activity tracker again. And by then, the Flex was popular enough that a lot of my friends had gotten one as well. It was a great way to track which days we were really moving enough and personally, I found the sleep tracker really eye opening as well.

They’re not for everyone, I get it. And just because I own one doesn’t mean I’m getting my 10,000 steps a day like I know I should. But it does help keep me accountable. And small changes and improvements are better than no changes at all. As I type this, mine is laying dead and sad in the bathroom – I have been slacking lately and need to throw it back in the charger. Baby steps.

Anyway, I really like it except for the fact that it’s not the fashion statement I would typically choose to make. I ordered the bright pink replacement band, and that helps some. But I’m not ready to shell out the hundreds of dollars for the designer Fitbit bracelets that are just hitting the market and I just wish it looked better sometimes.

And then I saw this pop up in my news feed on Facebook today: Cuff Activity Tracker

I was weak guys. I clicked. And it was kind of awesome. Admittedly, the basic cuff band looks similar to my Flex, but what I’m really excited about are the other bracelet options. Which actually look like – wait for it – BRACELETS. Not just a rubber wrist band, but stylish arm candy.


photo via The Verge

Now that’s not really enough to sucker me into trying this out and comparing it my Flex. I don’t need two trackers. BUT, the element that really caught my attention is the emergency alert feature. Basically, you press a button on the bracelet, and it sends out an SOS.

From the Cuff site:

The Cuff app will alert the people you designate as your “first responders” when you need help. You can program one person or your entire Facebook network as your “first responders.” Cuff will send your SOS to the people you choose, and it will not stop until someone responds. Your designated people will receive your location, live audio, and other relevant information to get you (or your loved one) the help you need.

This appeals to me as a woman. Which I know is exactly what they were going for – just call me the ultimate consumer. I have probably watched one too many episodes of Criminal Minds, but I do think about what I would do in the whole “trapped in the trunk of a car without my phone” scenario. You know, after I peed myself.

For single women out at the bars or walking to their cars alone at night, it’s not a bad idea, even if it was designed as a marketing hook. As someone who carries a taser because I’ve been followed/threatened once or twice, I’m probably a little more aware of these things. But I have to say, it has me considering a test run. If it can hold up to the functionality of my Fitbit while offering more stylish options and a “get out of trunk free” card, I might be switching teams.

I Can Finally Wear A Vibrator Around My Neck!

We are officially living in the glory days of technology. Forget flying cars. Crave just launched a new vibrator that you can WEAR AS A NECKLACE. Oh yeah, they also have one that doubles as a thumb drive. Screw the iWatch (pun definitely intended) – this is some wearable technology I could get excited about!


Crave: The Sexy Side of Wearable Tech

Part of me thinks this is totally ludicrous – I mean, who needs this?? But the other part of me is definitely going to pre-order one, because HELLO — it’s a wearable vibrator that is also actually a stylish piece of jewelry, and I love me some accessories.

Apparently you can also get these puppies engraved… now all I can think about are the best inscription options for something like this.

From Crave’s website:

Take your pleasure seriously. –Charles Eames

My brainstorming session:

The essence of pleasure is spontaneity. -Germaine Greer

Pleasure is the most real good in this life. -Frederick the Great

Too much of a good thing can be wonderful. -Mae West

Well, you get the idea. I could go on and on. Come on ladies, who’s with me?? This is such a step up from those cheap vibrators disguised as tubes of lipstick or yellow rubber duckies. This is actually a piece of jewelry I would wear. Now, I have no idea what the power is like on this thing, or how its performance stacks up. But don’t worry… I’ll investigate and report back