101 in 1,001

There are exactly 1,001 days between Jack's first birthday and my 36th birthday (if you count Jack's birthday as 1 and my birthday as 1,001).  I have an incredibly weird connection to dates and numbers, so when I started seeing 101 in 1,001 lists online and I found out how perfectly 1,001 days fit between our birthdays, how could I not create my own list of 101 goals?  These are in no particular order:

  1. cut my hair
  2. grow it out again
  3. have another baby
  4. start a blog with Dennis
  5. take Mom to NYC
  6. finish unpacking the house
  7. get everything out of the old house
  8. buy an income property (or 2)
  9. work for myself
  10. have Jack in Montessori school
  11. paint the kitchen cabinets
  12. stencil the living room
  13. stencil the dining room
  14. install beadboard in living room
  15. install bamboo in dining room
  16. paint all trim in house
  17. paint hallway
  18. gut and re-do main bathroom
  19. hang art
  20. hang gallery wall
  21. get curtains for living room
  22. get curtains for Jack's room
  23. plant vegetable garden and keep them alive till harvest
  24. plant a fruit tree
  25. get an acting agent
  26. get cast in a paid speaking roll in a movie (SAG)
  27. reach my goal weight
  28. attend an out of town blog conference
  29. open an Etsy store
  30. open an Ebay store
  31. buy a DSLR camera and lens
  32. buy a Macbook pro
  33. take 2 domestic family vacations (not including Mom's trip to NYC) 
  34. be in at least 1 play/year
  35. take some refresher acting classes
  36. take a photography course
  37. go camping with Jack
  38. take Jack to the beach
  39. be able to run (not walk) a 5K
  40. take 1 international family vacation ?
  41. receive a Leibster award
  42. organize my digital media
  43. canoe Buffalo Bayou
  44. take the Leisure Learning goat farming course
  45. become a doula
  46. paint dining room bench
  47. go to a Skeeters game
  48. go to a Dynamo game
  49. go to a Rockets game
  50. run a color run
  51. run a mud run
  52. go geocaching
  53. get matching tattoo with Dennis
  54. laser hair removal
  55. update my house tour page
  56. go ziplining with Mom
  57. paint garage doors
  58. throw a dinner party
  59. volunteer with FirstMemories Texas
  60. donate food to Ronald McDonald House at Texas Children's Pavilion for Women
  61. increase blog traffic to 10K/month
  62. try segmented sleep
  63. get bicycles
  64. scrapbook wedding photos
  65. decorate house (inside and out) for all holidays
  66. visit arboretum
  67. go to Miller Outdoor Theatre
  68. eyelash extensions
  69. host a game night
  70. buy own domain name
  71. move to WordPress 
  72. have backyard ducks
  73. write 150 blog posts in calendar year
  74. write 200 blog posts the next calendar year
  75. take the Texas State Railroad
  76. visit Saint Arnold's brewery
  77. take a winery tour
  78. sew something
  79. go to the Salvation Army auction
  80. find my perfect pair of knee high boots
  81. organize my clothes (and keep them organized)
  82. go 1 month without spending any money other than on gas/groceries/bills
  83. send Christmas cards every year
  84. send thank you cards for all gifts received
  85. go to putt putt
  86. take the NKOTB cruise
  87. buy some cowboy boots
  88. go fishing with Jack
  89. start a family tradition
  90. visit my Indiana family (does not count towards 2 domestic family vacations)
  91. get a family portrait taken
  92. buy a new vehicle
  93. get new headshots
  94. go to a mommy meet-up
  95. join the YMCA
  96. go to a Christmas tree farm
  97. host Thanksgiving
  98. take a cake decorating class
  99. get the tattoo on my leg removed
  100. finish painting Jack's dresser
  101. start painting my nails again
This should keep me busy for a while.....


Anniversary 3.0


Brazos Valley Maize

Have you ever been to a corn maze?  Well, if you haven't been to one, you should check one out.  Dennis and I, we like love corn mazes and although we haven't been to many, we went to a really great one last Saturday, Brazos Valley Maize.  We had so much fun!

We hadn't heard of Brazos Valley Maize before I teamed up with them to offer my readers the discount on a family four pack admission, and I'm so glad to know about them now!  As it turns out, this is their second season (they were going to open year before last, but the drought made them delay a year) and I hope this season is a great one because we had the best time.

Since I was given 4 tickets for passing along that great discount, we invited some friends who are visiting from out of town to come along with us. They're from Germany and this isn't the sort of thing they're used to doing.  It was nice to be able to do something different with them.  Since typical Texas weather is still pretty hot this time of year, we decided to go in the late afternoon which was great, because this is one of the few mazes I know of that's open after dark.  I had been watching the weather reports and a cool front was supposed to be making its way towards us sometime that weekend, so I also decided to reserve a campfire for that evening, too.

real men wear babies
When we arrived, it was sunny and H-O-T.  I'm surprised the corn wasn't popping right on the stalks.  Our car thermometer said it was only 88*, but I think it was lying to us (that's Texas for you).  There was a nice breeze, though, and it was a beautiful day.  I was really excited to get into the maze.  I've done several mazes and this one is a little different than any of the others I've been to.  At the start of the maze, there are several passports to help you find your way through the maze.  Each passport has numbered questions on it that correspond with markers in the maze.  When you get to a marker, you pick the correct answer for that question, or at least what you hope is the correct answer, and you go in the direction listed with the answer you pick.  So if your answer tells you to go left, you take a left at the marker.  There are a handful of topics to choose from (I went with US history).

They also provided a map of the maze.  This is the first corn maze I've been to that offered up a map.  At first I didn't want to take the map; after all, part of the fun of a corn maze is figuring out your way through it, but once you get into the maze, the stalks of corn are so tall that not a bit of breeze makes its way into the maze.  Since we had babies with us, we decided to take the map so we could get through the maze faster.  With maps and passports in hand, we were on our way!  As hot and still as the air was in the maze, the corn was the tallest I've ever seen (seriously, there were parts of the maze that I would swear the corn was 9+ feet high) and gave us plenty of shade.

part of the maze has a bridge!
Whoever designed the maze was a genius.  Brazos Valley is also the only maze I've been to that has an exit halfway through.  With two babies and a toddler with us, and no sign of the supposed cool front, we were really glad to make it to the halfway exit point so we could get some cold drinks and rest.  Not that it had taken us very long to find our way through thanks to the map and passports.  We had exactly the right amount of time in the maze.

After cooling off in the shade tent, I had to try the Hop-Along Horses and Jack and I had to ride the Cow Train.  I think you can tell how much fun I was having by watching these videos.  The Hop-Along Horses nearly gave me a heart attack.  I clearly need to start exercising if I'm going to keep up with Jack.  We also paid a visit to the Pumpkin Patch where Jack tried to hatch a pumpkin.

The sun was starting to set and the light was just right, so I changed Jack into some overalls and filled up my phone's storage took a few pictures of Jack in and around the cute fall tableau they had set up.

After Jack's photo shoot, our campfire was lit.  There was still no sign of that cool front, though.  I was really hoping for a crisp Fall evening around the fire, but it wasn't looking like that would be the case.  We were all lamenting the hot weather when the cool front blew in and the temperature dropped 20 degrees in about 15 minutes, and IT WAS GLORIOUS!!!  Nothing compares to a campfire on a cool Fall night, and nothing goes better with a campfire than s'mores.

We made sure to get a s'mores kit from Brazos Valley to compliment the campfire.  They also offer a hot dog roasting kit.  Dennis brought along some Jiffy Pop popcorn, too.  I don't have the words to express how great wonderful fantastic amazing magnificent (thank you thesaurus) it was to roast marshmallows over a campfire with our friends while the temperature dropped and we watched one of the most beautiful sunsets.  Let's just say if I was a cat, I'd be purring.

I simply can't say enough good things about the Brazos Valley Maize.  From the moment we got there, we were treated more like family than strangers.  It's a family run farm, and everyone who works there was as friendly and nice as they come.  The maze was great, and I love that they stay open after dark.  The campfire was my favorite part, though.  We had the perfect day.  I highly recommend that you go check them out.  They're located in Brenham, 90 minutes from Houston, and 90 minutes from Austin.  They're open Saturdays and Sundays through November 29.  Don't forget to get your coupon for $10 off a family four pack admission, too.

Brazos Valley Maize is having a trick-or-treat celebration on October 26th which sounds like a blast and a Farm Heritage day on November 2nd, complete with vintage tractors and a band.  For more information about their special events, click here, and make sure to go like them on Facebook.

This is a sponsored post.  I received admission to the maze in exchange for a review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Day in the Life, October 1, 2013

The start of another month means another photo an hour, day in the life post.  As always, I take all my pictures with Instagram, and as usual, my profile is still private.  This month, I was working on the first, but it was an unusually slow day.  I ended up going in late and getting off early.  I know that sounds nice, but it's awful on my checking account.  I wasn't nearly as motivated as I was last month, but I have been keeping busy on the DIY front.

8:30 am
morning feeding

9:30 am

10:30 am
laundry assistant

11:30 am
nap time

12:30 pm
heading for work

1:30 pm
not only does my MIL watch Jack, she feeds me, too

2:30 pm
staged picture
imagine I'm massaging a client

3:30 pm
mountain of chocolate truffles in the break room

I didn't take a 4:30 or a 5:30 photo.  Just imagine creative pictures of a lotion bottle, or the clock in my therapy room.

6:30 pm
on the road

7:30 pm
my SIL installing her dishwasher, like a boss

8:30 pm
taking dinner to Dennis at work

9:30 pm
night light

After I put Jack to bed, I didn't even make it to 10:30 before I fell asleep.  He's teething and was up a lot during the night, but there's nothing much to photograph while I try to put him back to sleep.

7:30 pm
one lone cat awake with me

So there you have it.  Nothing terrible exciting, but we have been working our tails off trying to get the house ready for Jack's birthday.  I can't believe it's just a little more than 2 weeks away!

DIY Magnetic Chalkboard

The past couple of weeks has seen a flurry of DIY activity around here.  We're full of renewed motivation and drive to get stuff done, and it's a good thing, too, with Jack's birthday right around the corner.  The DIY binge we started on the first is still going strong, so I should have some really fun updates to tell y'all about soon.  The first project we started on was a magnetic chalkboard for our kitchen, and today I'm going to tell you how we did it.  It was a super easy weekend project that I think most people would be able to accomplish, too.

Thanks to Pinterest, I now want to use chalkboard paint everywhere in the house, but for now (and to Den's relief), I'm limiting myself to one wall in the kitchen.  When I first mentioned the idea, he thought we were going to go out and find a giant piece of actual chalkboard, and then I told him about the wonder product that is chalkboard paint.  I also happened to mention the wonder product that is magnetic paint and we both agreed that the only thing better than a chalkboard in the kitchen would be a magnetic chalkboard in the kitchen.  Then Dennis, being Dennis, decided to take it to 11, and instead of using magnetic paint, he wanted to actually use a piece of steel so any magnets would really stick.  I guess that's what you get when your husband does blacksmithing/welding/metal art as a hobby.

Obviously, the first thing we needed to do was measure the wall where we wanted the magnetic chalkboard.  I knew I wanted as large of a chalkboard as we could fit next to the fridge.  Dennis said we could find a sheet of steel that was 4'x8' that would pretty much fit perfectly on the wall.  The steel would only run part of the way behind the fridge, and with our 8'6" ceilings, it should fit pretty close to perfectly height wise since we have 6" baseboards.  A win all around.  We bought our piece of steel from a local place, coincidentally called Steel Supply.  We have bought many things there and were already familiar with what is available there.  If you, like most people (I assume), are not already familiar with your local steel supply (and why wouldn't you be???), Google is always ready to answer your supply questions.  I can't remember what gauge steel we bought, but it was pretty thin as far as sheet metal is concerned.  When we put it in the bed of our pick-up truck, it easily curved instead of staying rigid.  I keep wanting to say 12-gauge, but that sounds too much like a shotgun.

The next thing Dennis had to do was take the measurements he had and make a few cuts to the steel to make sure it fit into the space properly.  He had to cut a notch out for the A/C duct and two openings for the light switch and a random electrical plug in the middle of the wall.  We decided to leave the plug, because, well, you never know when you might need an extra plug.  If you aren't sure how to cut a sheet of steel, you can always take your measurements with you when you go to your local steel supplier and most of the time they can make the cuts for you.  And trust me, it's well worth the effort for how well the magnet board works.  And, from our experience at least, having the steel supply place make the cuts for you usually doesn't cost much extra.  We were able to get our piece of steel for around $50, and we might have had our place go ahead and make the cuts for us, but we left the measurements at home.  D'oh!  If you decide to make the cuts yourself, make sure you know what you're doing, wear eye protection ('cause, seriously, who wants metal splinters in their eyes), and wear gloves.  Along with any other safety precautions you feel like taking.  Safety first, people!

As thin as the sheet of steel was, it was still crazy heavy.  Dennis wanted to make sure his cuts were accurate before prepping the steel for my paint job, so we carried it into the house.  After maneuvering it into place and verifying that his measurements were correct, I informed him that there was no way I was going to carry that steel out of the house, just to carry it back into the house, just so he could wash the steel with the garden hose.  I was overly paranoid of the steel slipping out of my grasp and either cutting off my fingers (I'm a massage therapist and kinda need those), or cutting off my toes (cause, naturally, I wasn't wearing any shoes--safety first!)  After complaining about how heavy the steel was making my case for just leaving the steel in the kitchen, he agreed!  In order to easily secure the steel to the wall, Dennis drilled pilot holes in the steel and the wall and then used screws to install everything.  Next up, paint prep, which was really pretty easy.  The sheet metal was really greasy, so we washed it really thoroughly with soap and water.  And were ready to paint.  I like easy.
first coat

Usually I will use primer on any unpainted surfaces to make sure my paint sticks and that I end up with a nice smooth finish.  I even bought primer for this project.  But the primer was oil based and I didn't really want to mess with the clean-up (ugh, paint thinner), and I really didn't want to deal with the fumes (ugh, baby lungs).  After reading the directions on the chalkboard paint for the millionth time, we finally believed what the paint can was saying:  that the paint could be applied directly to any metal or wood surface.  So I took the lazy easy way of painting directly on the steel.  We knew it would be a gamble, but we also knew I would be applying several coats of paint and figured everything would be okay.

I'm typically a good painter, and I take some pride in this fact.  Painting with chalkboard paint is a little tricky, but I think anyone can do it and end up with good results.  The directions say not to over roll, or paint over, the same section once it already has paint on it.  This makes it really difficult to get a nice even finish.  After I painted the first coat, I was panicking about how splotchy and uneven things were looking.  I was convinced we had made a horrible mistake and the whole project was a waste of time and money.  I decided not to freak out until after I had painted at least 3 coats.  Give it time, I told myself, and then went on about my day.  With chalkboard paint, you need to wait at least 4 hours between coats, as opposed to 30 minutes or so with regular wall paint.  The anticipation was killing me!!!  Four hours later, and I was applying the second coat of paint.  Which was just as splotchy as the first.  Don't panic.  Don't panic.  Don't panic.  I went back 4 hours after that with a third coat of paint and held my breath.  As I was painting, Dennis remarked at how all of a sudden everything was looking nice and smooth and even.  I let out the breath I had been holding for 8 hours.

By this time, it was late and we had already had a long day.  We were ready for bed!  The next day, Dennis put some trim around the edges of the magnetic chalkboard so it would look more finished.  The metal trim we picked is actually pieces of threshold for floors, but when used to trim out the chalkboard, the whole thing ends up looking like a built in old timey school house chalk board.

Chalkboard paint requires 3 full days to cure before you can write on it.  So I waited 3 long days.  You also need to condition the surface by rubbing chalk over the entire surface and then erasing everything before you can write on it.  On the morning of the third day, the first thing I did, even before coffee, was break out the chalk and start to condition the heck out of that board!  This part was actually pretty fun.  My chalk kept breaking and I had to make sure my nails didn't scrape the chalkboard surface.  I might not be here with you today if that had happened.  Once I had the chalkboard conditioned, all I had to do was decorate it and put some magnets on it.

This project was super easy to do, and other than waiting for the paint to cure only took a weekend to accomplish.  I really think anyone would be able to make their own magnetic chalkboard.  If Dennis and I can do it, so can you!

To sum up:

  1. Measure your space
  2. Buy a piece of thin sheet metal that fits your space
  3. Cut the sheet metal (or have it cut) to fit your space
  4. Attach the sheet metal to the wall with screws
  5. Paint with chalkboard paint
  6. Trim around edges for a finished look
  7. Condition the chalkboard
  8. Decorate and enjoy!

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