Monday, December 05, 2011

I Heart December

I love December and I'm pretty sure it's because it includes a few of my favorite things. (Is it just me or does that seem familiar?)

1.) Shopping. I don't need to say anything more but I will. Why? Because I get to shop for people I love, including myself. I love him so much.
2.) Sugar. I heart me some seasonally packaged chocolate + home-baked confections. And I eat them freely during December.
3.) Schedule. December is a challenge and you have to own it like it's your bitch or else it will walk all over you. But I love being able to plan the holiday season, especially when I figure out how to spend MORE (not less) time with my family in Mobile. 10 days this year? Oh yeah babe.

I am also spending December reviewing my entire STOTT PILATES instructor repertoire. There are over 500 exercises (including modifications) across the entire range and it's impossible to recall it all by rote memorization. I like to break it down by apparatus, then compose a cross-platform workout, which I spend 30 minutes reviewing each day. I do sound cray-cray when I teach myself aloud but it's helpful nonetheless.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Mr. Miagi

A few months back I posted about obtaining black bamboo. It lives in the yellow-ish resin planter at left. I also dug up a few bamboo plants from my parents' house in Mobile, because as I often say, "If a little is good, then a lot is better." I opted to get them started in my tomato buckets, which I spray painted crimson in honor of football season. The great news is that each of these plants is thriving - but the larger on the right (near Maddie, who is getting her sunbath on) is coming up gangbusters.

This is making up for the puny clumping variety that continues to wane in the front bed (so disappointing) but I have decided if it doesn't rebound in the spring, I'll repot and move one of the thrivers to that position.

I have also decided to obtain a Japanese maple tree - "Osakazuki" variety to be exact - which I'm going to add to a bench planter on my patio. If you see me outside practicing my crane move, you'll know I've gone full-on Karate Kid.

Be warned.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Self Assessment(s)

As the Emperor, I speak for everyone here at the Empire in saying "we've been getting a lot of shit done." Well, mostly done. Our culture is one that promotes the 90% complete project, and we are working to improve the practices of the subjects so as to hit that desirable 100% mark.

Such is the kitchen.

We've spent a few nights and weekends adding a glass tile backsplash with intermittent mirrors. We're all about bouncing the light and, as this image indicates, eating a little healthier to keep the creative fire fueled. I need to seal grout and finish/refloat a few lines, but changing the cabinet hardware and installing a new fascia board above the sink has helped us feel a wee bit more current.

At some point I'm going to add a smaller, really Euro refrigerator and develop additional storage in the space that action will free up - and I'm leaning toward real wood countertops - but for now I'm fairly content.

It's so perplexing to me - as the kitchen was completely serviceable I'd not ranked it high on the priority list for attention but once it said "Please look at me," I couldn't ignore its patrician request.

I have a ton more to post and will work to do that this week. It's been a maelstrom but quite rewarding, of course.

As I closed on my house on April 29, I will always be able to measure my progress based on the devastating tornadoes we endured here in Alabama on April 27. At the six-month mark a few weeks ago I took a bit of time to go on a photo tour of the Empire. The results were pleasing. There is still so much I want and need to do, but if anything I realize I've not just been sitting around watching Jersey Shore and eating Bon-Bons. (The fact is, I eat a lot of almonds and DVR the Rachel Zoe Project.)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Don't Change

I have some of the coolest cousins in the world, and for that I am grateful. Probably because I hail from large broods (both of my parents were 1 of 7 children in their respective families) and, who are we kidding, being Southern, I spent a lot of time with my family growing up (and spend as much time as I can with them now ... they're "my people."). I grew up in my mother's hometown in Alabama, so many of my cousins in Mobile are more like brothers/sisters, but I loved our trips to Virginia to see my dad's people and share a special bond with them as well.

My cousin Lori is probably six or seven years older than me but I LIVED for her apex-level awesomeness. She taught me how to smoke correctly (thanks for those 16 years of addiction, by the way!), how to dance like a rockstar (she was much better at it than me), and every moment I have spent with her has been nothing short of complete and utter contentment.

I got a text from her yesterday morning which said, "Heard 'Don't Change' on radio this morning, always think of you when I do, I love you." It made my Wednesday spectacular. Thanks Lori, I hadn't heard or thought of that song in a few years, but have to share as it remains one of my all time favs!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Make It A Point

Every day we have choices to make. The summation of these choices represent and embody our standards  and expectations. When we recognize the choices we need to make, but struggle to succeed in executing them, we set ourselves up for disappointment and reduced feelings of fulfillment. The range here is vast, of course. Maybe the world won't end because you didn't fold the laundry the minute the dryer stopped running, but dismissing seemingly innocuous things has a cumulative effect and add to larger scale disappointments.

Life is short, isn't it? Do the things that ideally you think should be done, even if it means you take 5 extra minutes. Sweat the small stuff. It can mean the difference between feeling blase about your life or truly self-assured and fulfilled. And if you don't sweat it, no one else will either.

This means, ultimately, your dryer could always have a load of laundry in it. And nothing illicits a wince and "aww Hell naw" like jack-in-the-box white clothes in the dryer. I'm just sayin'.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Baby's Black Bamboo

My friend Brian gasped, "Tom Ford!"
It's been a fairly busy past few weeks and it appears that will be the forecast for the foreseeable future. I'm trying to figure out a way to spin this positively and, yeah, not happening, but at least my hot tub is now up and running and I can soak away the stress and aches at the end of the day. That's positive, right?

Another thing I find incredibly effective at encouraging deeper breathing is bamboo. I know that sounds odd, and I've probably talked about my love for this prolific cane in blogs past, but I find it elegant and graceful and for some reason this seems to settle me.

Earlier this summer I acquired a small "clumping bamboo" plant. Don't get excited, this picture is NOT it. Right now it's clinging to life in a new large pot, on a pedestal even, in my front flower bed. As it turns out, and contrary to popular belief, bamboo doesn't just live in anything. It actually has a preference for well-prepared soil and nutrients (who knew?). Some research performed in attempting to save the life of my current bamboo lead me to Beautiful Bamboo. And that lead me to black bamboo.

Amazing, isn't it?

The Empire's newest acquisition.
This variety is a timber/clumping variety that apparently has no use for any type of cold weather, so it seems I'll only be able to admire it from afar. In its place, however, I acquired a running black bamboo which is touted as "very hardy." On a recent design blog I saw bamboo installations on a really high-end deck, intended to function as privacy screens. They had been planted in galvanized steel livestock watering troughs.

I didn't know what to expect when live plants are FedEx'ed, but I was pretty impressed that it arrived in a box, with the canes somewhat twisted backward, packed very tight with wadded newspaper. As instructed, I unpacked, stood upright, and watered well. When I repotted it into a larger container last night (you didn't think I'd plant it in the ground, did you?), I was amazed at how profuse the root bed "nexus" appeared. There's this huge underground "cane dragon" that's wrapped the entire 1-gallon container and, I swear, it screamed "FEED ME" when I exposed it. I predict success with this variety.

I will spend the winter determining exactly where I want to permanently place it. I'm thinking of a raised concrete channel bed directly behind the hot tub patio to serve as a courtyard divider/privacy screen/swanky backdrop.

And finally, a post to the video of the song that inspired this post's title. I loved Goo Goo Dolls back in the day, and this was my favorite from them.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Go Fish



I have been anti-cord since I can remember. And I'm not sorry about it either. I don't go running around with my business hanging out for the world to see (usually), and I have the same expectation of modesty from my major appliances. It really IS that simple. 

I am also a big fan of having an electrical outlet where you need it, and not letting it dictate how you decorate. I think modern homebuilders are a more keen on this, but I also think it's unfair to expect someone at a generic level to really "know your life." That leaves us with a need to conceal wires and, in doing so, we'll probably have to add outlets and/or fish wire through a wall.

[Note: I have never actually done this wall fishing but I'm comfortable with walls, and have been fishing many times, how hard can it be right? I mean, if stoners with ear gauges are how-to'ing you on YouTube anyone can do it, right? Right?]

It's recently come to my attention that I enjoy having my flat panel television downstairs. Since I rarely watch it, yet pay lotsa coin for my HD DirecTV, I feel like an hour of HGTV and/or local news each day is a good way to maximize value. And because I watch it so infrequently, it only makes sense that I want a larger panel upstairs in the loft. Don't question this thinking. Just endorse it. 

But with this wall o'tellie comes a perplexing dilemma with wire and if you think I'll have it exposed, think again. I won't have it. I will go fish.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

iBook

A few years back, when the Kindle became all the rage, I did what I normally do when things become all the rage. I judged. Why? I'm not sure, but it was a harsh enough reaction (not quite at the caustic level I reach when I hear "granite countertops and stainless steel appliances" but pretty close) that I had to stop and consider what was it about the electronic format that made me cringe. I think my initial reaction was based on two things: the profile of the early adopters and inefficiency of the medium itself.


EARLY ADOPTERS

If I saw one early twenty something girl in an airport with a Chihuahua in a small mesh crate, oversized Dior sunglasses, a bottle of water and an Rx of Prozac with a Kindle I saw 30. And each time I wanted to figure out a way to either shorts them in public, or spill their water on their electronic device, rendering it useless.

And please don't even get me started on the hipster boys wearing their girlfriend's jeans. Are you kidding me? I'm bloody gay and nothing has ever made me want to say "Man up!" more than this unfortunate, dreadful occurrence.

THE MEDIUM

Sometimes you just don't need to eff with something that works. Books are practical. They're easily accessible. To read a book you do one thing. Pick it up, open it, read. You can also do nifty things like obtain a public library card, which allows you access to an amazing world of literature and guess what ... it's free. And it also is fun because you're bound by time, and this encourages you to read more. I think that's a pretty swell thing.

With the electronic rendition you have a few significant barriers to entry. There's cost, and there's technology. You pay for every book you download (usually), and you have to ensure your device is sync'ed and, more important, charged. What could suck more than wanting to read and having it say "Oh girl not now, I'm too drained."

THE CONCLUSION

Not gonna lie, when I got my iPad2 earlier this year, I decided I would at least give myself an objective opportunity to validate my judgment. I actually bought a book and have been reading it since. That's what, 4 months? 5 months? I'm nearly finished, and the book is quite good. It's "The Paris Wife," by Paula McLain, by the by, but I do think I'd have finished it much sooner had I begun it in traditional printed format. I probably consumed the lion's share on a recent flight to and from Los Angeles. I do love the little bookmark feature, and swiping to turn pages does feel a bit like reading. And because I have my iPad with me at almost all times, it's usually pretty easy to access.

I have some other books I want to read, and think I'll revert to my traditional, "old school" library card option. I like the library. It's a relaxing place with an amazing purpose.

Monday, August 01, 2011

INCOMING!

A few weeks back I was on a trip to Wallace (code for WalMart and please don't judge me) - I think I went specifically for one item and of course spent $100 in the gardening section. I considered this a success because I actually did acquire the item I sought. Normally when I am barraged by my ADD I get home and think, "Shit, I forgot the [designated item]!" One of my "finds" that day was a really lovely potted hibiscus and it was on clearance for $7.50. I put it in a large container on my patio, mostly so it would provide some sort of color/natural interest when I looked out my french doors. Nothing says "Me so sad" like looking directly into your neighbor's vinyl wall, but such is life when your Empire is a garden home.

The plant has thanked me for saving it from an unknown fate by prospering, and its flowers are exquisite - especially on a sunny day. Concurrent to my recent house move and all of the recalibrating that has entailed, I've also moved my office within my company's headquarters building and that has been a mammoth task as well. (I'm pretty sure in a former life I was a pack mule. "See if he can take just one more sack of flour before he breaks," I often hear in my head.) For the past 3 years I've hung hummingbirds feeders outside the picture windows of our ground level office suite but now that I am upstairs, this isn't possible. I was sad too because I'd established quite the colony of hummers who relied on Robby's Sugar Crack, so on Saturday I hung them in the corner of my yard, beneath the mutant Bradford Pear, hoping they might be used by some other wayward birds who'd stumbled into suburbia.

Before I could begin my obsessive-compulsive stare-down at the feeders, I was rewarded unexpectedly as I was at the kitchen sink. I glanced outside at the exact moment a hummingbird was hovering over one of the large hibiscus blooms. Sappy as this sounds, it was heart-lifting. I thought, "If they're in the hood, they'll find the feeders." I wasn't wrong. After a rather intense thunderstorm Sunday afternoon I had taken the dogs out for a piddle and discovered two arguing over who could use which feeder. They're pissy little things like that, but that's OK.

I had decided to seek a specific perennial plant (crocosima, it's called) after seeing it in a design blog. The added benefit is that hummingbirds LOVE it, so this has set a new tone to my burgeoning gardening efforts. I'm not at the point of wearing Hawaiian print shirts and drinking mai tais on the lanai, but I could see some sort of hummingbird tattoo in my future. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mission Viejo

Funny little sign my co-workers constructed on my birthday.
At some point since my last post I turned 40. Yes go ahead, hit me with the whole "I'm so sorry," like one of my fav pilates clients did earlier this week. She was serious. That made it even better, but only because she's probably 20 years older than me and of course, I identified. But it is what it is, right? And you know what, it's pretty effing awesome.

Why? The list is very long but I'm happy to try: I have amazing friends both near and far who make my life richer each day; I have a spectacular family who not only supports me in my craziness but totally enables and encourages it; I have a new home that I am having a great time adapting to suit my tastes and the needs of my incredible dogs; and I have a really challenging yet very rewarding career with co-workers, peers and colleagues who help me grow and evolve each day. So when I say it that way I'm like, "Hell yes I'm 40 bitch, and I own it!"

I have lived just long enough to recognize patterns, and to grow intolerant of repeating the ones I find unhealthy. It is a struggle to correct some of them, but the blessing and grace is the recognition, and the mounting sense of urgency to make changes for a sustainable future. Sure I am flexible (always have been and, of course, I am a pilates junkie) which means I can still drop it down low and sweep the floor with it, but now I think more about my life as an "aging gay" and if I happen to live a long time, I don't want to be a burden to those who will assume responsibility for my care. I can see it now, "Watch out orderly, he might be 75 and delusional with a frightening face full of plastic surgery, but he has wicked lateral hip rotation and has been practicing 'Kill Bill' moves for a really long time."

So what do I want to accomplish in my 40th year? Since I've now failed at getting on a 40 Under 40 list, I think I'll just focus on finishing some commitments through 2011, working on my house, and taking some time to breathe, enjoy my life, and read some more books. I'm putting it in neutral and observing ... at least until my next big motivation.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Coral Snake

When I returned from a recent trip to the beach, I noticed the dogs were hyper-intent (and with one Jack Russell and one Australian Shepherd trust, this is saying alot) on something that was below the hot tub. The last time I had been around hunting so keen was years ago at the house in Little Rock, when Gizmo (another JRT) was yipping from his crate when I got home at lunch. I thought perhaps he was really needing to go but when I opened the door he leapt down 8 stairs, jumped on the patio door and, as soon as I opened it, pounced onto a tarp-covered pile of pea gravel beside the deck to flush out a huge king snake. It was at this moment I became a believer in the power of the canine snout. It is also a permanent reminder to look for the unexpected when your dogs be ackin' a fool, so I got a stick, just to be safe.

The dogs, of course, relented as soon as they saw the stick because they'd much rather let Daddy handle perplexing dilemmas. I suspected one of their bouncy balls was beneath the hot tub, so as soon as it became apparent there wasn't a varmint I needed to deal with, I stooped down for further inspection. Immediately I recoiled when I saw what appeared to be a coral snake. And by appeared I mean it was a remnant. A remnant right in front of the bouncy blue ball. I have never encountered a coral snake but, growing up in the country and being a full-on yard rat, I was always warned to keep my good eye out for the "red meets yellow bad for fellow" elapid. (Never mind the water moccasins, rattlesnakes, or copperheads ... just watch out for the coral snake.) I knew the snakes prefer underground/undercover locations, are fairly elusive, and aren't prone to strike since they're not a traditional viper and must stay attached to the prey in order for the venom to inject.

Still, I was a bit ooged out because, let's face it, my environment is ideal for a coral snake (obvz), and all I could think was "Did my dogs shred a coral snake and live to tell the story?" Apparently that's the case. I did make the mistake of telling my mother this story over the weekend and of course, this has moved all the way up to her #1 Worry List Item. In fact, it did inspire me to do a bit more research and while I certainly don't want to be flippant, I do think I'm probably OK. I have been doing a bit of gardening so am just remaining more aware and taking precautions like wearing appropriate clothing (OK, that's a lie, it's too hot) using my trusty stick (aka "hoe handle") to poke around before I get busy cultivating.

Here's the Wikipedia entry on coral snakes. I found it interesting, and always enjoy learning something new and confirming facts along the way. In fact, I think that's what should be the epitaph on my grave, "He was all about confirming facts."

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Snap Crackle Crunch

Even when my neighbors got new ceilings in the 1970's - new ceilings with GLITTER - I was never a fan of the blown-in popcorn ceiling. Solid glitter ceiling? Love. Plain popcorn? Hate.

And so it came to be that I purchased a home with popcorn ceilings and I knew they would be one of the first things I said buy-bye to. Unfortunately this process is sucktastic and no amount of precaution will prevent you from making your home a powdered doughnut. I opted to tackle the master bedroom first, since it is vacant as I await a new bed and prepare to refinish a dresser.

Armed with contractor paper (rolled on the floor) and my new garden sprayer, I got busy on Saturday morning just as the 1000 helpful YouTube videos and websites advised. I even wore my invisible man breathing mask and, just because they were available, my children's size infrared ski goggles. I felt that was appropriate since of course I was also blaring Nicki Minaj on the iPod.

[I keep trying to add more pictures and of course my HD camera settings are high so the interwebz is saying "too much! too much!" I will keep trying.]

The removal of the popcorn is tres' easy. You just pretty much spray and scrape. A note on the spraying - if you're turned off by dirt, like I am, you will get rid of your popcorn ceilings immediately. One spray and everything turns dirt brown, even though your ceiling looks white. Eww.

As I was scraping I was pretty conscientious of not damaging the underlying drywall (when I wasn't practicing Super Bass choreography) but inevitably there are areas of imperfection: this is why they spray ceilings to begin with. It's a great camouflage. Thankfully though most of my ceiling appears to have been floated with mud prior to spraying so I'm thinking, "Home free, bitches!" But I was wrong. I was so wrong.

Why? My water bath had also loosened the drywall tape at the wall-to-ceiling joint. This meant I had to remud/retape the entire room. I also have gone back and patched areas of concern and, last night, I went a little crazy with my new pole sander. As most know, despite the fact that I'm days away from turning 40, I love anything that sounds somewhat close to "pole dancer," so instead of dwelling on the discomfort in my upper traps, I just listened to some more Nicki Minaj. Do we see a pattern developing here?

What remains is a bit of a concern. What if I've not smoothed the ceilings well enough? What if my primer/paint job looks like shudoobie? My tight timeline will be thwarted, my furniture will remain in storage, and I'll have to reach out for professional assistance. If, however, this is successful, I will motor on with the rest of my 8' ceiling areas. Keep your fingers crossed.




Thursday, June 23, 2011

Warding Off The Funk

If you live with an Australian Shepherd, you live with fur. Lots and lots of shedding fur. Fur that tends to find its way to the hood vent of your stove, despite the fact that you clean daily and the vent is 6' taller than said canine.

This is acceptable, of course, because if you live with an Australian Shepherd you live with a dog that makes you smile for no other reason than just being himself. When I look down and see Geege Weave, I just think "Oh he's just being Miley," and either reach for the broom or the Swiffer.  [Note: I don't reference Maddie because she is a Jack Russell which means she's really a person and as such is excused from accountability.]

And now I have a new weapon in my one man war against Dog Dirt:  The Shark Steam Mop. In one of my Saturday ADD haze-induced shopping excursions to a local big box home improvement store, I happened to spot this item on the shelf at a reduced cost. I thought, "Wood laminate floors in heavy dog traffic areas + the added awesomeness of steam? Done and done!" I was even more excited when I thought, driving home, I'd add tea tree oil - maybe even Aveda Energizing Composition - to my steam for a full-on cleanliness overload but, alas, the instructions (yes, I read them) say emphatically DO NOT ADD SCENTED OIL OR ANYTHING TO THE CHAMBER. I am a rule follower, by nature, so I have avoided this temptation but I will say the overall result of the product is impressive.

I have used it twice, and though of course it initially sent both dogs running to the bedroom with its hissing and steaming, their natural curiosity is getting the better of them and now they like to watch from the corner. I give it a big thumbs up!

From a lecture perspective I'd also like to point out that people DO notice when your house is dirty, even though they say they don't. Are you listening college boys? It is never ok to have a grimy, grocery-store-feet bathtub or mold growing in your sink or toilet. Buy some Comet and a sponge. Use them. Weekly. OK, lecture over.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Pillow Talk

Joseph Pilates was all about the way we sleep. In typical JP fashion, he was a bit extreme in his beliefs and of course had designed prototypes for beds that were a bit like hospital beds (or so I'm told), but one thing I know in 2011 is that mattresses will tell you when "it's time," but pillows are the windows to the soul. Work with me here. And before you go blaming your mattress for all that is wrong in the world, consider your pillow.

I have been sleeping with a memory foam pillow for several years. I am a back sleeper, for the most part (MSJ used to say I looked like Dracula when I was asleep), but not surprisingly I'm also a Princess With A Pea and if things aren't 100% right, I will turn into a rotisserie chicken and occasionally will throw a cow-kick here and there.

Lately my memory foam pillow has been slow on the uptake, so yesterday I bought a new fancy pillow and last night I slept like a baby. A baby Dracula!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Horsetail

When I talk about having lived in Arkansas many people raise their eyebrows and act as if my life was akin to the movie "Winter's Bone." I always laugh quietly because most of these people are in Alabama but the simple fact is that life in Little Rock was really very good and I have fantastic memories of my friends there.

Probably one of my favorite times in Little Rock was living in Pinnacle Valley and taking our horses down to Two Rivers Park to hack the trails there. It was one of the few places where the footing wasn't full of stones! One of the plants that grew in abundance in this low-lying area (at the convergence of two rivers, but I bet you have already figured this out, right?) was horsetail. It was everywhere and I always thought it was so interesting and beautiful in its vertical "I'm not bamboo but you think I am" way.

In subsequent travels I've seen it used in really impressive ways, so I was rather gobsmacked when The Time Child brought me a handful last week. "I saw this when I was in LA and thought it was fabulous, then I got home and there was some in my Nanny's yard." I have done some initial research because of course it's looking a little ill, but my initial instincts to put it in a non-draining pot and keeping the soil really wet were correct. Hopefully it will take root and recover.

If anyone has tips, I'd appreciate hearing them!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

This Is The Re-Launch

Day One. And so it begins. I have lamented for quite some time about the staleness of my writing and my lack of inspiration and motivation. I felt like I'd run out of things to say but what I've come to realize is that I feel like I've run out of NEW things to say. And how ridiculous is that? I ask myself. New things happen every day. 

Clouds fall out of the sky and wipe away the landscape, changing lives forever. The daily grind gets re-routed slightly when we move half a mile away, and suddenly places and establishments we've never discovered become regular fixtures. The inevitably temporary family you've built over the course of a year disbands, but instead of feeling melancholy you're gratified because you've lived just long enough to know that the way it would end was clear before it began: and you accepted this fate with grace and you lived.

It is selfish not to share a thought, but there are some that are best kept incubating before they're debuted. It's like starting seeds, then hardening them off a month or so later, and sharing the ready-to-thrive seedlings with people you know and love. A reversion to journaling has helped me in this discovery, and I am using Day One on both my iMac and my iPad to grow in this dimension of thought gathering and processing. 

Yes, I'm still ridiculously engaged in whipping my new house into shape. Yes, I would still love to look like Brad Pitt in "Troy." Yes, I could still sit and watch people for hours. So the truth is, I am inspired. And I am writing. And I am thankful to have endured this bump in the road but blessed at the same time to have made the discovery.

 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Murphy's Law

When my friend Emanuel, who works with me, sends me "cool stuff" I always click-through. Why? Because he always sends cool stuff. Resource Furniture is no exception.

I love the creativity and, even more so the successful execution of it, that goes into living in a small space. I have always thought Murphy beds were a smart solution and once I began reviewing this site I thought, "A sofa that converts into a bed would be extremely polite in the guest bedroom." I kept reading about the "fine Italian craftsmanship," and as someone who has a.) been to Italy and b.) done a little retail damage at Prada, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana and Armani I began to suspect a serious commitment to lira would be on the other side of my quote request.

The good news is I wasn't surprised when the super friendly, very efficient quote was returned a few hours later. Can I afford it? No. I'm pretty sure this set-up costs more than my college education, but I really do love the idea of it and am using it as inspiration. Check out the site: it's very well done and I love how cleverly the space saver section addresses storage and aesthetics.

In the meantime, I'll be over at IKEA, trying to "make it work!"

Disclaimer: If you're reading this as a Note on Facebook, it's because my blog - located at www.robbyjohnson.com - feeds directly into my Facebook account. Majikal, right? Point being, if I link a YouTube video or other graphics it may not show up. For your fully-integrated Robby Johnson user experience, visit www.robbyjohnson.com. Let the beat hit 'em, y'all!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pop The Cork

I bet you didn't guess this was going to be another blog about what? home decorating, did you?! Well it is, and I'm OK with that, because my life is going to be consumed with ever-so-fey decisions like lighting, flooring, fabric and color over the next few months. I have relented and accepted this stimulating fact. It's like the planets have aligned to reveal, in the year I turn 40 (which I'm not - yet - trust ... you'll know when I am), some sort of HGTV/DIY zenith, beneath which I am rendered powerless and subservient to design elements which must be realized.

I have compiled a "Me And My Move" list and calendar (not gonna lie, it's a full-on work plan with milestones and everything) and while I can certainly move into my new house as-is, the few changes I want to make will be best accomplished when there is nothing inside. These changes include: goodbye popcorn ceiling, hello fresh coat of paint, and possibly sayonara brand-new loft carpet; bienvenidos cork floor!

Because I have dogs, and because I intend to use the loft space as a small pilates studio + home office + operation Just Dance 2 headquarters +  sleeping space for my nieces and nephew, I'd really like to eliminate the funk-harboring carpet. Let's face it, Maddie will immediately scamper up the spiral stairs and mark her territory, so why not have her do it on a naturally antiseptic, sealed and protected floor instead of an absorbent textile? And let's not forget I do my best Ke$ha "Tik Tok" when I've had a glass or 2 of red wine.

My biggest question, and one in which I hope any reader can offer some feedback, is this - should I do the floating floor lock-in-place engineered cork boards, or the glue-down 12" square tiles? I am inclined to go with the latter, even though everyone says the former is the bees knees. I just can't fathom the concept of a "floating floor." I am a control freak. I need to know it's glued down and nothing will move.

Disclaimer: If you're reading this as a Note on Facebook, it's because my blog - located at www.robbyjohnson.com - feeds directly into my Facebook account. Majikal, right? Point being, if I link a YouTube video or other graphics it may not show up. For your fully-integrated Robby Johnson user experience, visit www.robbyjohnson.com. Let the beat hit 'em, y'all!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mutant Ninja Turtle Vest

Today Google isn't allowing me to edit my "horsey little things page" in the Fisher Price My First Web Page preview version and listen, it's too early to attempt HTML. And so I am adding a few "fs" (that means "for sale") items to this post. Please let me know via email (rbjohnsonii@gmail.com) if you're interested in any of this lot.

1. Charles Owen safety vest. Black, size Medium. EXCELLENT condition, lightly used, and thankfully never crashed! $100.




2. European 50 (US 42) midnight blue/red-lined 4-button riding jacket from Horka (Holland). I bought this jacket from a tack shop in England and have competed in it 3 times. $150.



3. Size 9.5 dress boots. I am pretty sure I wore these just long enough to get the ankles to break, which they did very easily. Very comfortable and in excellent condition. $100.



4. Size 36L Tailored Sportsmen breeches. Brand new, never worn, tags still on. $100.



5. Size 34R Tailored Sportsmen breeches. Lightly used, great shape. $85.





Disclaimer: If you're reading this as a Note on Facebook, it's because my blog - located at www.robbyjohnson.com - feeds directly into my Facebook account. Majikal, right? Point being, if I link a YouTube video or other graphics it may not show up. For your fully-integrated Robby Johnson user experience, visit www.robbyjohnson.com. Let the beat hit 'em, y'all!

Friday, April 08, 2011

HOUZZ

I am working to adapt the way I seek and compile - synthesize, if you will - information. This obviously has been facilitated greatly by my dive into the world of IOS but, by default, I still don't think "I wonder if there's an app for that?" as a first line response. I'm getting there, however, and my iPad2 is making it much easier.

If you follow me on Facebook you might know that I am in the process of purchasing a home and am scheduled to close on April 29. It's a cute little garden home - 2 bedroom 2 bath with a 300 sq. ft. loft and (dramatic introduction) a spiral staircase! My friends who knew me when I lived at Pinnacle Valley Farm in Little Rock might get a sense of deja vu when they see it, and I honestly am sure I loved it because it invoked that same sense of such an amazing year in me as well. But I'm not going to lie, the one time in my life I had food poisoning happened when I lived in the barn and slithering down spiral stairs at 2 a.m. in search of water is most def a lowpoint for me so I'm thrilled that my new home won't require sleeping upstairs!

There's a lot "right" about the place, but obviously things I want to change pretty quickly and I'm super excited about it. It's really the project/purpose I've been missing in my life for awhile now and, God knows, for a Cancer - a middle child Cancer, even - I need me my nesting space!

I wanted to get all fancy and do a design board, and still may, but in random shopping last night stumbled upon an iPad app for Houzz. It's really cool and you can do all sorts of inspiration/ideabook stuff with it (check out the gadget and ideabook I added to the right side of this blog post), and that's the stage where I am right now. It's interesting, too, that sometimes as a creative sort it only takes a slight shot to reprime the well. I've gotten a bit flat over the past few years and I'm really grateful to be reinspired.


Disclaimer: If you're reading this as a Note on Facebook, it's because my blog - located at www.robbyjohnson.com - feeds directly into my Facebook account. Majikal, right? Point being, if I link a YouTube video or other graphics it may not show up. For your fully-integrated Robby Johnson user experience, visit www.robbyjohnson.com. Let the beat hit 'em, y'all!

Friday, April 01, 2011

Something Old Something New

On today's episode of Me and My New iMac, I'm going to learn how to actually place a photograph in my blog. In the past 24 hours I've learned to remove the flash memory card from my digital camera, place it into a little secret Bat-slot that I had no idea existed, then upload photographs. It was, in fact, another process that required supervision from the Time Child but in my defense, you don't get an iManual with iProducts and so I feel no shame in saying iDontKnow.

Update: it's 30 minutes later and while I've not learned how to find the images to simply place into the Blogger Uploader I have bumped-it-up-a-notch by discovering Slideshow, making a movie, and placing it on YouTube. "Why was this so important?" I hear you ask. Hopefully after viewing it will make more sense but, in summation, I think I've finally found "the look" I want for a 1960's little coffee table my grandmother gave me nearly 20 years ago, a few years before she passed away. I've attempted to give it a few facelifts over the years - fake stone paint (fail!) and upholstery (great fabric, not totally in love with it but was able to live with it for nearly 15 years) - but when it occurred to me last week that it was the perfect base for a little test-go with glass tile I nearly clamored over myself to get to the home improvement store.



It has been fun sharing this project with Heath, who has a great eye for detail and appreciates the sentimental value of heirlooms and family. He's also been really good at helping me stay on a budget. I think I spent around $60 once it all shaked out, but from my perspective it's a small price to pay. I left a few imperfections because they remind me that nothing is perfect, but everything is beautiful. We just have to clean our lenses occasionally.




Disclaimer: If you're reading this as a Note on Facebook, it's because my blog - located at www.robbyjohnson.com - feeds directly into my Facebook account. Majikal, right? Point being, if I link a YouTube video or other graphics it may not show up. For your fully-integrated Robby Johnson user experience, visit www.robbyjohnson.com. Let the beat hit 'em, y'all!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Anatomy of Movement

I have come to accept I will probably never be as brilliant (or exciting) as Lisbeth Salander, the main character in Stieg Larsson's "Millenium" trilogy that begins with the book "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo." She's an apex-level badass who reads scholarly publications on quantum physics for pleasure. Me?  I can't even begin to compare but I HAVE recently begun reading "Anatomy of Movement," a reference guide used in many physical movement training modules, which is a bit different than the typical morose novel fodder than occupies my nightstand.

I have also done this with the "Trail Guide To The Anatomy," and, now that I think about it, I also love to read maps. I can read a spiral  bound atlas for hours and memorize key landmarks and alternate routes. I suppose our bodies are the metaphorical land masses, the lines of movement are the available routes, and the anatomy is the vehicle we use to arrive at the destination.

Is it completely self-involved or just human nature to actively pursue content that intrigues us? I love to read and learn, but I require a compelling reason to tackle subject matter that isn't necessarily inherent to my overall composition. The older I get the hungrier I've gotten where functionality - why things work the way they do - is concerned. I am not motivated by revolutionizing existing accepted standards, but I do think having a comprehensive frame of reference builds credibility in areas where one professes to possess expertise.

Now, big words and constructs aside ... let's move (with Neneh Cherry)!



Disclaimer: If you're reading this as a Note on Facebook, it's because my blog - located at www.robbyjohnson.com - feeds directly into my Facebook account. Majikal, right? Point being, if I link a YouTube video or other graphics it may not show up. For your fully-integrated Robby Johnson user experience, visit www.robbyjohnson.com. Let the beat hit 'em, y'all!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Glass Houses

My love for glass tile has reached a feverish pitch. It is only made greater by my extreme fondness for a recessed shelf. While I probably would not want this exact prototype for my own bathroom, I do love the light-capturing windows (what do you call these sorts of windows - that are set high on the wall to retain privacy?) and I am actually a fan of the green. I know in staged "showroom" shots like this the "more is more" mentality prevails, but in an end-user scenario an edit would likely be a good idea. The small scale of the 1" tile is just right, but it loses some of its magic when asked to compete alongside the 3" square.

Why do I care, I hear you ask? Well, a bathroom remodel just well may be within my immediate future - or at least by the end of 2011. Time will tell, but the steps have been taken for me and the dogs to take up a new residence in May. Fingers crossed!

Disclaimer: If you're reading this as a Note on Facebook, it's because my blog - located at www.robbyjohnson.com - feeds directly into my Facebook account. Majikal, right? Point being, if I link a YouTube video or other graphics it may not show up. For your fully-integrated Robby Johnson user experience, visit www.robbyjohnson.com. Let the beat hit 'em, y'all!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Give Me A Platform

How do we feel about platform beds? Be honest. This is my back we're talking about.

I like the way they look, and for some reason I feel like I would like to have one. Not this one, of course, but as someone who seeks efficiency, I do like the idea of the storage drawers beneath. No longer would I need to hide my Glock between the mattress and box spring. I could have a designated drawer for it. Brilliant! (Kidding on the Glock, interwebz gun patrollers people.)

Thoughts?

Disclaimer: If you're reading this as a Note on Facebook, it's because my blog - located at www.robbyjohnson.com - feeds directly into my Facebook account. Majikal, right? Point being, if I link a YouTube video or other graphics it may not show up. For your fully-integrated Robby Johnson user experience, visit www.robbyjohnson.com. Let the beat hit 'em, y'all!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

REFORMED!

Please don't think me bougie.
As my STOTT PILATES education has evolved, so have my thoughts on owning pilates apparatus. While I am employed part-time at a full-service studio, I teach at night and to be quite honest, there are times when I just want to come home after a.) a long day at the office and b.) a few hours teaching at the studio. My dogs are very special to me, and staying behind 1 more hour to workout leaves me feeling guilty that they're home alone while I'm focusing on flexing my spine.

When I received the news I'd passed my Level II Certification examination earlier this year, I decided to invest in a commercial-grade reformer and additional apparatus to complement the spring wall I've had for nearly a year. I chose the SPX Max Reformer from STOTT simply because it was exactly the same height as my platform and could work in conjunction with the spring wall if I also had the mat converter (the large black board leaning against the wall). I bought a bundle package that includes the reformer box and all sorts of other goodies, then also chose said mat converter, the jumpboard (plyometric cardio goodness), and the rotational diskboard (both of these at left as well) which is all kinds of challenging for the deep stabilizers of both the hips and the shoulder girdle. I also got a deluxe arc barrel for matwork which is, in my opinion, one of the most amazing (and affordable) props you can incorporate into a workout. I have retained the platform I built, of course, and will continue to use.

The placement of my "studio" isn't ideal simply because there's not enough room on the left side for large rotational work or certain exercises involving abduction, but I can implement lots of modifications to achieve this or, you guessed it, hit up the Big Studio when a proper port de bras is the only thing that will make me feel better. 

p.s. This is the "surprise" I referenced in my last blog post and, yes, I did do my 10 "squats," after getting the reformer installed yesterday. I chose to do plies in the hip abduction position. Yowzas!


Disclaimer: If you're reading this as a Note on Facebook, it's because my blog - located at www.robbyjohnson.com - feeds directly into my Facebook account. Majikal, right? Point being, if I link a YouTube video or other graphics it may not show up. For your fully-integrated Robby Johnson user experience, visit www.robbyjohnson.com. Let the beat hit 'em, y'all!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Diddly-Squat

Glute Camp: A Better Butt Without Surgery | ThePostGame

I have decided to make March a month of ... squats! I am doing at least 10 squats per day for the entire month of March. Mostly because there are tons of varieties out there (I have some personal favorites, and others I'm eager to discover), but also because, when done correctly, squats are very effective at reducing my anterior pelvic tilt. Engaging the glutes/hamstrings to spin the pelvis into a more neutral position also involves quite a bit of abdominal work - particularly transverse abdominus to maintain the pelvis in neutral.

I have to think this is a good thing. I've had a rough few months and haven't really been skippy on the workouts. This must change! I have a surprise I hope to post tomorrow as well, which will address my increased focus and motivation to "get right."

Today I did squats using my STOTT PILATES spring wall. These are my favorites, of all the squats I've done, because you use the arm springs which really challenges stability and forces correct recruitment through the core. And because these squats go from flexion of the spine to neutral position of the spine, both the rectus and transverse are worked, along with the hip extensors and flexors.


Disclaimer: If you're reading this as a Note on Facebook, it's because my blog - located at www.robbyjohnson.com - feeds directly into my Facebook account. Majikal, right? Point being, if I link a YouTube video or other graphics it may not show up. For your fully-integrated Robby Johnson user experience, visit www.robbyjohnson.com. Let the beat hit 'em, y'all!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dogscaping



I have never had a dog who required grooming. I used to strip one of my Jack Russell's broken coat about 2x per year, but if I didn't he didn't get dreadlocks or any other nasties and, in fact, just looked more Gremlin-y. Maddie is very smooth coated so she is low-maintenance. Glenwood, on the other hand, is a very different story. I found this video on YouTube and had to post because it made me laugh - mostly because I think this Aussie is a.) adorable and b.) has this "You violate me" look about him that Geege also possesses. To put it mildly, grooming is not his favorite activity, but he is learning to be better about it.

I vacuum at least 2x per week and in my 900 sq. feet I have to empty my wind tunnel at least 2-3x. The more I groom and shed him, the better. If anyone has tips on training him to stand, as opposed to lying on his back, I am all ears!

Disclaimer: If you're reading this as a Note on Facebook, it's because my blog - located at www.robbyjohnson.com - feeds directly into my Facebook account. Majikal, right? Point being, if I link a YouTube video or other graphics it may not show up. For your fully-integrated Robby Johnson user experience, visit www.robbyjohnson.com. Let the beat hit 'em, y'all!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I'm Out Of Time And All I've Got Is 10 Minutes

As a pilates instructor I am very blessed to be able to work with a variety of clients. In the 3+ years since I began teaching, the range has included high-school athletes and dancers to post-partum mothers to geriatric clients (just to name a few!). Many years ago I explored exercise regimens for myself under the auspices of a "more is better" approach. Indeed, I would get through a difficult workout, be sore for 3 days, and eventually bag the whole effort because I could barely lift my legs to get into bed. For many of these years I was concurrently competing my horses and the approach to their fitness was quite different. "Legging up" a horse is done very carefully and methodically (or at least should be) as horses have rather delicate support structures - think about it, an average 1200 pound horse distributes his weight on 4 legs roughly the size of mine!As part of the overall program, one not only focuses on strengthening the supporting joint anatomy, but also the cardio-vascular system. As prey animals, horses are equipped with rapid speed to flee perceived threats, but in feral scenarios they seldom gallop unless they are startled. The "short-burst" approach, or what this article defines as interval training, thusly, nets very effective results.

I have changed my outlook on exercise altogether in the past five years. Instead of seeking a physical ideal, I subscribe to the theory of a functional ideal, and if it is aesthetically pleasing, then that's great, but it's not the primary reason for engaging in exercise. It's to be able to reach items on the top shelf of the cupboard without incurring a hitch in the getalong! I tell my clients that 10 minutes of exercise over the course of 5 days is 50 minutes, so it does have a cumulative, sustainable effect. If feeling like 1-2 hours is a baseline commitment or else you'll just not participate, the reality is you'll spend more time being sedentary and only contribute to your declining functionality, particularly as we age.

So, with that said, I'm off to the spring wall for 10 minutes of rolldown bar work. It's been a tough few weeks of performance rehearsals that culminated with Bal Masque XVIII over the weekend. I need to recommit to my own health and practices. Get up, it's time - your life, your choice!



Disclaimer: If you're reading this as a Note on Facebook, it's because my blog - located at www.robbyjohnson.com - feeds directly into my Facebook account. Majikal, right? Point being, if I link a YouTube video or other graphics it may not show up. For your fully-integrated Robby Johnson user experience, visit www.robbyjohnson.com. Let the beat hit 'em, y'all!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bum Like You

I know, I suck. It's just downright unacceptable that my blog has dried up into a prune. As an apology, I'd like to offer up something I consider spectacular, pure, and inspiring. This is my favorite track on the "Robyn" album - the acoustic version. In the coming months I intend to tackle intense subjects here at the old blogstead, as I surf toward the big Four-Oh. Intense subjects like "Zappos.com: Love Or Hate?" and "Donkey Kong Country Returns: At 40, It's Great For Mind/Body Control." Stay tuned 23 followers - you light up my life and I'm sorry I've been such a bum.



Disclaimer: If you're reading this as a Note on Facebook, it's because my blog - located at www.robbyjohnson.com - feeds directly into my Facebook account. Majikal, right? Point being, if I link a YouTube video or other graphics it may not show up. For your fully-integrated Robby Johnson user experience, visit www.robbyjohnson.com. Let the beat hit 'em, y'all!