Friday, October 26, 2012

Taking up running

You probably think it's a little odd that a cyclist would even think about running.  Why would you want to "pound pavement" when you can roll and feel the wind in your hair?  Well, fitness has to be the answer for me.  With work, Noah, and all the other obligations I've tied myself to, I haven't had time to keep my fitness level up to where I want it.  Think about the extra time it takes to monkey around with cycling equipment. Since biking is a very efficient, it takes a lot more intention or more time to get a good workout from it.  With traffic, stopping, turning, etc., you have to spend extra time to get out of town where you can turn up the intensity and back into town cooling down.  Time is my biggest problem...
I've heard a couple of times recently that studies comparing lazy skinny people and fit fat people show that fitness is a bigger indicator of overall health than size, though being fit and not carrying around extra pounds is best.  How do you define fit?  I've heard a number of definitions, all relate to how quickly you can move your body 1 or 2 miles - basically they are all running tests. 
Enough theory, back to why I took up running...
A couple months ago, I was pretty stressed about big stuff (thinking about moving across the country, if that counts as big stuff).  One night, after a particularly stressful day, I needed to do something to eliminate some nervous energy from my system and clear my mind.  I decided to just go for a run.  It really worked.  I felt a lot better mentally and physically when I got home.  I slept better that night than I had in quite awhile. 
Things have calmed down since, but now that I'm working more, I just don't get as many bike rides in as I would like.  The "beginner" kids on the bike team can crush me now.
As it gets cooler and less pleasant outside, it's again easier to run than bike.  When you eliminate all the wind chill of biking, you don't have to wear as many layers.  You make your own heat, big time.
I was still struggling with the footwear I had for running.  My shoes either didn't fit well enough to run in, were too heavy, or were fairly worn out.  What better way to inspire some good runs than a fun and comfortable pair of shoes to run in...
New this summer. Love them!
That's enough yackity yack about running.  I'm having some fun with it, and feel like I'm somewhat healthier for going.  How about you?  Trying any new fitness motivators?  Picky about your footwear?  Hoping I'll stick with crafty fun and home improvements topics on this blog, or just let Noah be the star of the show?  Have a good day!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Locking up

I mentioned already that we didn't get a key, like we thought we might.  In addition to that, only one of the 2 door's locks actually functioned.  We did all of our coming and going through the "hotel room" during our visit. 
Let me back up, before I get ahead of myself and describe the layout of this place better.  It's a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom condo.  It's separated into a "lock-out" hotel room and a one bedroom condo, so there are 2 doors to get into the unit and the door from the hotel bedroom to the living room has a locking mechanism on both sides.  Each bedroom and the living room also have sliding glass doors onto balconies overlooking the lake.
There are a dozen things to think about with regard to locking up.  How would we like the keys to be configured?  Will we ever intend to use the lock-out feature?  Are we going to be renting it out, or selling it?  If we plan to sell it off, what would the potential buyers want in the lock situation?  In addition to the exterior doors, there are a few places that can get locked for storing personal items while renting the place out (if we got that route).  We, of course, don't have keys for those locks either.
The existing hardware on the doors is ugly.  It used to be brass, but it's all worn/faded/scuffed and mostly looks junky. See for yourselves.
Before: no key and doesn't really work.

Before including kickplate

Progress - now we have a working lock and we hold the key!

We took measurements for the reinforcement plate and kickplate so we can  look to buy replacements or figure out what we need to do with them otherwise.  The local hardware store didn't have anything that resembled these.
We got the only "reasonably attractive" keyed door handle set that the local hardware store (town of 300) had in stock of which we could get a matching pair.  Having looked since we got home, we would have made the same style choice if we were faced with more choices during the moment.
Brian was able to install the first door handle fairly easily.  The second one was broken beyond repair and removal.  Next trip North, we need to bring a hack saw and use the brute force method to get the second old knob off so we can put in the second classy handle.
Ah, so many plans and so long before we get to go again!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Design Dilemma

You know us, can't have too many things going on at one time!  We've been talking for quite some time about doing something with our living room.  We purchased our furniture 12 years ago when we lived in a house built in 1999.  Then we moved to a house built in 1890.  The furniture didn't fit.  Okay, we did fit it all in the room, but it took up a lot of space and just didn't work.  We just continued to live with it because there were plenty of other more pressing issues to take on.  

Here's the room after we took out a few of the tables and added the rug (oops, that's not the rug, that's a throw blanket posing as a rug to see if we like it).

We posted the furniture on craigslist this weekend (along with a bunch of random things that we removed from up north).  We've put it on craigslist twice previously and not had a single looker.  This time I listed each of the pieces separately and had inquiries right way.  We decided to clear out the room and start with a blank slate.  The objectives we decided upon are: make it feel like a bigger space with similar amount of seating; pick a style that we like (we've discovered a lot about our style preferences in 12 years and "traditional" is not it); don't spend too much - aka we aren't shopping at pottery barn or west elm, even though they have great stylish stuff.
Brian has a tendency to pick out mid-century modern, while I'm likely to land on farmhouse.  Neither of those is entirely appropriate here.  We're working toward "loft" or "European modern" since we have the old structure, but are not into antique stuff.  We went to HomeGoods and Pier1 last night and I was able to put it all together in my head.  If I was a pintrest person, I'd pin you a bunch of images; if I was a photoshop person, I'd create a mood board.  I'm not, so you'll just have to stay tuned for during and after pictures.  We'll paint and replace the ceiling fans to complete the look at some point.  For now, I'm excited to get my furnishing and accessorizing on!  And, I'm thrilled that we've found a style that works for both of us!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Hiking LeVeaux

Fall is such a beautiful time to hike in the woods.  We usually try to get up to the shore/hiking trails in mid to late September (at least ever since I quit teaching that's true, when I was teaching, we would go in mid October at break).  We were there on the late side of the "colors" season this year, but it was still spectacularly beautiful!


Noah the leader.  He usually wants to "be the train engine" when hiking.
On top of the mountian

Fantastic vistas even though all the leaves are down.  Can you imagine if the branches were yellow and red?!

Sometimes 4 year olds need to stop hiking and roll around in the grassy area next to the trail.

Somebody tired out a bit, good thing dad is strong and patient!

 A bit of advice for hiking with pre-schoolers...  Bring "enticement" junk food.  We forgot that on this hike and found ourselves struggling to coax him along the trail a couple of times.  Combine the snacks with a bit of a scavenger hunt - find/count 4 trail markers then you can have a ________.  Scavenger hunting is great even without the food.  Hunt for trail markers and try to be the first one to spot each.  Noah's a pro at finding and calling out the "blue stripes".  A few other trail games we play is train - who is the engine, who is the coal car, who is the caboose?  This works well on easier sections where it makes the most sense to walk single file.  A new one we invented this time is hide and seek - one member of the party races ahead a little ways and hides behind a tree, then the rest of the hikers have to find them.  Dad finds the best hiding spots and we'll miss him if we don't employ our best observation skills, cause you know he didn't go too far and is just off the trail somewhere! 
In addition to motivators along the trail, it's important to be comfortably dressed.  You can't usually find (or don't want to afford) hi-tech hiking gear for people who will grow out of it within just one season.  So using layers and carrying back-up options is very important - more on that here.

Friday, October 19, 2012

More Lake Superior talk

It can't be all work and no play when we go up to the new place on Lake Superior.  Here's some talk about what we did at the property for fun.

Do you see that pile of firewood?  We burned every single piece in the box over the weekend!  Also, there's a big puzzle in the cabinet (550 pieces).  Noah pulled it out and wanted to do it, it was a little advanced for him, but I was able to sit back and complete the picture over the weekend.

I think this rock beach is Noah's favorite feature of the "hotel home" that we've got.  He could throw rocks for hours if we let him!

Another favorite of Noah's is "exploring" on the big rocks.  He was quick to learn that the rule for walking on the big rocks is he must hold hands with mom or dad!

I couldn't get over the fall colors of the lichen on the big rocks!  It was intense and beautiful.

We heard the waves crashing against these rocks all the way inside.  Can't wait until the lake gets really moody in November!

One thing I was delighted by was that they had left behind "soap dishes" on the counters.  They have semi-bowl-shaped hunks of rock serving as a soap dish by two of the sinks.  Brian thought it was just asking to look messy and leave the soap/water pooling all over the counter.  I thought it brought a little outside in and helped tie the shore to the living space.  Not sure how that debate will end.  What do you think: charming or sloppy??

Monday, October 15, 2012

For the children

When I go around town and see all those hateful orange signs that say to vote no for "choice" it makes me feel sick.  I want Noah to grow up in a place where the definition of mom, dad, husband, and wife are understandable and he will have the option of creating a "traditional" family because 1) it will still exist legally, and 2) there will be girls who were raised with similar values.  We can still show loving kindness to those who choose differently, but we don't have to promote it in our education systems and allow judges and legislators to make all kinds of rules about how we raise our children.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Lake Superior livin'

We're tired of pouring money into our house, but Brian really loves home improvement.  So, we've tried a couple of times to buy a foreclosure house around home or move to a new "project" house with no success.  Since he also keeps up substantially with the Lake Superior market, he knew this one would be a winner.  It would be fun to own while working on it because we have more opportunities to get "up north".  We can finally "prove" the concept to ourselves that you can make money by renovating properties, hopefully...
Every so often, you hear stories of foreclosure purchases being a real pain in the neck.  This transaction went so smoothly that it was surreal.  Do we really own this place?! 
Before we came up north for vacation in August, Brian saw this property and his interest was peaked.  He sent an inquiry to the lising agent just asking what the association costs would be and for any other information she might want to share.  The association fees were high enough that he didn't look back.  We did not visit while on vacation because the ongoing costs were deemed too high.  Then several weeks later, I prompted that the association would be okay as long as it included everything, Brian wasn't sure what it included and agreed to ask the agent again.  Before he got around to doing that, the agent sent him a notice that the price was being reduced and corrected her previous information about the association fees.  We decided at that price, we couldn't go wrong, but it's a foreclosure, so let's toss out a low-ball offer anyway.  The bank countered with the magic number that we were hoping to settle at or below and "the rest is history" as they say.
We bought the place without laying eyes on the property.  Only looking at pictures and realizing that with an association owned exterior and heating system, we have the skills to fix anything else that is wrong with it and it wouldn't cost more than we would want to manage.  We can have it as long as we want it and can choose to sell or put it in the rental pool when it's "ready".  Now, I have the big challenge of keeping Brian reigned in on the budget for the place!
Enough chatter...

Dang that's a fantastic view!
Love the wood-burning fire, hate the green plush carpet.

The ceiling was covered in hooks with these gaudy fake plants hanging everywhere.

Hotel sized bathroom and more of that awesome greenery.

Want to lighten and brighten that up!

2nd bedroom, it has a private deck overlooking the great lake.

What a sweet piece of shoreline!

View from the rock beach, our unit is hiding behind the big pine.
 This first visit's goals:  1) see what we bought. 2) clean it up so we're willing to sleep/stay in it.  3) get it properly locked where we hold the key.  When we asked the realtor, how we would get in/get the key, she said that there's a key in the kitchen and the door would be open for us.  The door was open for us, but no key to be found and neither door lock functioned properly.