Day -107 – 5 Things You Need to Know to Install Your Own Tile

IMAG0524I spent the today on my hands and knees installing new tile in a very old house.  I love this house, but there isn’t a square room in the place, it makes for some interesting projects.  Yesterday we finished the upstairs bathroom, today was time spent on the downstairs bath and laundry room.  Now before you think, I can’t install tile, let me tell you that yes you can…and I will show you exactly what you need.

The basics you know about….tile, backer board, thin-set, grout, bucket, sponge, grooved spreader, there are also a myriad of videos to show you how.  These are the easy parts, you can pick them up at any supply store and get right to work.  Here are some tips you should remember that they sometimes fail to mention:

  • If you have to cut tile with a scoring blade and tile cutter, make sure the tile is not freezing, it will cut much better at room temperature
  • When mixing thin-set, a full 50 lb. bag is difficult to mix properly, split it in two
  • Set a straight line somewhere and work from there
  • Pay attention to the surface you are putting the tile on, make sure it doesn’t have a paper surface that can lift…you’ll end up doing the job again
  • Get a good set of knee pads, they make all the difference in the world

So with all that, let me tell you the top five things you really need besides the supplies

  • No. 5 – Perserverance – the ability to continue with the job when your knees and back are telling you to stop
  • No. 4 – Empathy – for whatever home improvement project your partner is working on and struggling with
  • No. 3 – Imagination – the ability to see what a room will look like when you finally get it done
  • No. 2 – Humor – keep laughing, it will get better, and more importantly, it eventually gets finished
  • And No. 1 – Self-confidence – let go of your insecurities and just do it; no one else has to know that you don’t have a f**’n clue

Day -103 – Clean Eating

IMAG0520I believe every young woman (and man) should be given a good knife and a cutting board at a young(ish) age.  The more I listen to folks spout about diet, the more I think that it can be solved with just those two items. Every meal should require chopping of some sort.

For the past couple of weeks I have had a kitchen, this is unusual for me, most of the year I cook on a Camp Chef.  I love my Camp Chef, but it limits the way I cook, or I thought it did.  I am so out of practice using an oven, I still cook every meal on my stove top.  That’s not a bad thing though. 

We practice clean eating, my definition is fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, fresh meats, limited processed foods.  It has the advantages of limiting our sodium, carbohydrate and chemical intake.  If I can buy organic and non GMO, I will, but let’s face it, that is entirely dependent on where you get to buy your food.

Every trip to the grocery store is a practice of this mentality.  We start in produce and gather up fresh fruits and vegetables and then we continue along the outside ring of the store.  The outside is where they keep dairy, meats, and produce.  We only dip down an aisle for a specific item.  Yesterday it was a jar of prepared spaghetti sauce and a box of cereal. 

Each meal starts with my knife and cutting board and a trip to the refrigerator, I may not want a salad, but somehow we are getting veggies in our meal.  For breakfast I slice tomatoes, mushrooms and green onions almost daily to add to our eggs.  For dinner, I get out those same veggies plus some cabbage, lettuce, cauliflower, asparagus…just about anything left over and if I can’t add them to the main dish, they go in a salad bowl.  The most fun I have though is figuring out how to add it to the main dish.  Are you having spaghetti?  Sure the prepared sauce is good, but what if you sliced an onion and chopped some garlic to saute in olive oil first, then add the meat, then add the sauce.  Are you done?  Not yet, chop some mushrooms, roma tomatoes and asparagus to finish out your sauce.  See what you just did?  You added all your veggies and no one is going to recognize them, they just know your sauce tastes amazing.

Now you would think this would lead to a lifetime of thinness, but alas, it does not.  What it does lead to is a healthy body that can do anything.  Practice shopping the outside ring, and get out your trusty knife and cutting board and learn to use them.  You will feel better almost immediately, and I have a theory that if you are feeding kids, you will notice a change in them too.

Day -102 – Craving the Familiar

IMAG0519We are currently living in a small town, granted it’s only for 3 weeks, but it only takes a day to become ingrained.  It doesn’t matter if we are in the grocery store, the post office or most often, the lumberyard, people treat you like their neighbors.  We have conversations with perfect strangers that last for 20 minutes or more, it is completely different than visiting a city.

Our last “home” was a small town too, albeit, larger than this one.  I was part of that community, from the theater to the high school and everywhere in between, I knew someone.  One of the many things I participated in was card class at my local scrapbooking store.  For those of you unfamiliar, I have two great friends, Vi and Dawn, who design five cards, create kits and then host a workshop for their students to make the cards they have designed.  They take the hard part out of it by cutting the papers to size, providing the embellishments. Many of us leave with cards exactly the same, others of us found ways to embellish.  I have always been a big fan of sending cards, a way to say thank you, to remind someone you are thinking of them, it is far more personal than any electronic means.

At Christmas I sent over 200 holiday cards to the people who make us successful, our competitors.  For years, I have sent New Year’s cards to those who had an impact on my life in the previous year, and what better way than to send handmade cards.

Dawn at Stinkin’ Cute has held on to my card kits for the last four months until I could get there to pick them up.  I did that before we headed to Montana and finished making them all last night.  On the back I will write “handmade by Shelley.”  But that really is cheating, sure I put them together, but the credit belongs to my friends who inspire me, who bring me joy, who are always there.  This is the familiar I crave, they say you can’t go home again, but you can find solace and joy in those who help you find your home on the road, those who bring the familiar.  Thanks.


Day -98 – eHarmony Success Story

eharmonyWe just celebrated our one year wedding anniversary, as part of that, I tagged eharmony on our Facebook post.  They responded with, “tell us your story.”  So here is what I sent them.  There are many more pieces, but this is the big picture.

“I want to share our story, not because it is unique in how we found each other…eHarmony is doing that everyday…but we are unique in what we have done with our lives since.

Rich and I were matched on 12/20/08.  I had been divorced after 25 years of marriage, Rich had recently become a widower after an equal 25 years of marriage.  We figured we started our relationship with 50 years experience, so we knew what we wanted and more importantly what we didn’t want.

We began slowly, just as is suggested, it took us almost three months to finally meet, there were 600 miles between us, so planning was required.  I was skeptical about being in a relationship and at the end of our first weekend together, I told him “Don’t do it. Don’t fall in love with me. I am trouble.”  That was how I was feeling, I hadn’t done anything but hurt everyone in my way for awhile now.  We continued talking and about three weeks later he sent me a text that said “ I think I am in serious like with you.”  That was it for me, I was hooked.

In July 2010, we got engaged, by then Rich had moved to Idaho and we were helping to raise his infant grandson, this would be a temporary situation, but at the time, we just weren’t sure where it was going.  My friends suggested I didn’t have to do that, my kids were raised, I didn’t have to take on a newborn.  I told them, “I love Rich, if he comes with a child, I will take him too, this is the right thing for us to do.”  And it was.

Not long after, we had four adult girls (daughters and friends) and an infant living with us, that was a challenging year, but we survived it with humor.  Everyone kept asking when we were getting married, I told them, the day after the end of the world.  Not that I believed the world was ending, but because the Mayan calendar was in the news and it was an easy response.

About December 12, 2012, Rich reminded me that the end of the world was next week, was I ready to be married?  I asked for the opportunity to sleep on it.  By this time, our lives were so intertwined, there wouldn’t be much change in our living arrangements, but the paperwork had scared me a little.  The next morning, I told him I had a plan.  We called our favorite local sports bar owner, arranged an End of the World party after they closed on the 21st; called a friend to have him arrange to be ordained; and sent messages to our friends that we were having an End of the World as we Know it Party.  Only one couple caught on.  At midnight, we quieted the room, told them since no zombies were knocking at the door, we were going to go ahead and get married.  It was incredible, a great party, a fun time, the looks on my friends faces was priceless.  We had pulled off a surprise wedding. (Check out Day 287 for the wedding.) 

We just celebrated our 5 year anniversary from being matched and our 1 year wedding anniversary.  So that is the “romantic” stuff, the stuff your commercials are made of, everyone dreams of finding the one, but we really did.  Distance was overcome, baggage was thrown out, we truly are the happiest couple I know.

This is the rest of the story….

My husband is an off-road event promoter, for the ten years before we met, he put on 6 to 10 events a year, all over the country.  He has friends all over the world and is an icon in his industry.  I didn’t know anyone, a complete outsider, offroad was not my passion.  My passion is business, no matter what the form.  I had a stable, secure job as the Chief Financial Officer for a 40+ million dollar company.  I loved my career, but I was changing my lifestyle after my youngest child graduated from high school, with or without a partner.  I wanted adventure and travel.

As we got to know each other, we started to play to each other’s strengths, he let me take over duties in his company that were administratively oriented, he remained the people person and the visionary.  In 2011, we expanded his business with an upstart racing organization, so in addition to the extreme rock crawling, we were now racing.  Our test market played so well, we expanded the company to include racing all over the country and go full time in 2012.  I retired from my job, we rented the 3000 sq foot house out, and moved in to a 280 sq foot RV – well kind of.  We refer to our RV as a poor man’s NASCAR hauler, it is a converted semi-truck that we use as our office and our home.  We travel fulltime, if we aren’t at one of our own events, we are at another offroad event.  The business has taken off, we have followers, we have fans, we have friends and we have family, nationwide.  We bring a family atmosphere to an intense competition, we play hard, we work hard, we are a partnership. 

2014 is adding some new things to our field of play, in addition to the offroad events with vehicles, we are adding a running series.  We are also working with an emmy-nominated film editor to produce a made-for-tv competition series that is being pitched to major networks.  Our life is about fun and travel, love and friendship.  I truly found my life’s partner and am blessed every day with an incredible life.  Everyone should have it as great as we do.”

Check out our lives:  

Day -93 – How do you write?

writingI’ve been missing from my blog lately, sure I posted yesterday, but that was only when I opened my file and realized I had written a pretty good write up and never posted it, so it doesn’t count.

My husband and I have been discussing my writing a lot lately, I’m a bit unfocused right now, it is what we call the “off season.”  Now the difference between the “season” and the “off season” for us is that we are not currently hosting any events.  It doesn’t mean we are less busy, we are just busy doing all the things we don’t do during the season.

The off season started right before Thanksgiving this year, we got back from Baja and the Score 1000 to spend an extra week in greater Phoenix so we could attend a few parties and see some partners; then off to Sacramento and a longer than usual visit with my in-laws.  We got to see a lot of friends and eliminate a major monthly expense (storage units, don’t get me started on what I think of those), and of course spend time with family, always worth it.  Then a quick trip to LA to pick up our youngest daughter, another trip to Utah to see the middle one, and finally to Idaho to see the oldest daughter for the holidays.  That took a month, but seemed to fly by.

We stayed in Idaho longer than intended (another story, I might have to share), and then to Montana – the same place we spent last winter working on a house we own.  But the question posed here was not what are we doing, but how do I write?

The above just explains my unfocus, it’s not that I lack material, it’s that I lack discipline.  During the season, there is time scheduled for sitting at my laptop, right now, it is hit and miss because we are always moving.

When I start a blog, it is with a sentence, maybe two that has found its way in to my brain and needs to come out.  The beginning sentence is almost always formed before I touch the keyboard, what follows never is.  I might have thought of a direction, but as soon as I start typing, it could become overshadowed by something else. I really don’t know where I’m going until it is written. 

My mind naturally flows for 400 to 500 words and then it concludes.  I can’t seem to plan it.  It takes about twenty minutes to write, another twenty to edit and post and it is done.

In November, I tried to participate in NaNoWriMo, for the third year in a row.  First off, I know I’m going to have to pick a different month, November starts with SEMA – never a good time for me.  But putting that aside, I can’t seem to plan my writing.  I have good story ideas, or at least the beginnings are good, I just don’t know where they are going.  It is the same phenomenon as when I blog, it just starts to flow, then it stops.  I tried this year to create a story outline, it wasn’t very inspiring.

Next on my list is Non-Fiction Now!, I think this will be easier for me because it is more task oriented, I’ve started, just need to find that discipline that I’ve been missing. I am a list maker, and non-fiction seems to lend itself over to lists, why can’t I do the same with fiction?  If you blog, write novels or write non-fiction, how do you do it?  Do you know where you are going before you start? 


Day -92 – Random Acts of Kindness

kindnessThere is a blog roaming around out there that refers to “134 Random Acts of Kindness.”  I read it a couple of weeks ago and it has been bugging me ever since.  Please understand, I Believe in Random Acts, I even try to practice them, I just was disappointed with what one writer thought qualified as kindness.

Random Acts of Kindness should be things that you don’t do every day, that aren’t part of the larger world of common courtesy.  My mother always taught the Golden Rule…you remember, do unto others as you would have done unto you.  So when someone claims that allowing traffic to merge is a Kindness, I think, Really??? Isn’t that just what you do?

Here were some of the ideas that I struggled with…not because they are bad ideas, but because I thought this is how we all acted:

Be thoughtful

Hold your tongue

Meet your neighbors

Don’t nag

Don’t complain

Let it go

Don’t be annoying

Don’t keep others waiting on you

Respect your partner

Be on time

Tip generously

Do you see what I’m saying here?  These are things my mama taught me to do in polite society, they had nothing to do with being kind, it was just how it was done.  This is stuff we should all be doing daily, not just when we are trying to be extra good.

The holiday season is a great time to go that extra mile, in fact, you probably did.  We are reminded daily during the holidays to do good for others, but what happens now?  What happens when winter is upon us, the bills from the holidays show up, we are just a little stressed because there isn’t another free day off from our world for months.  What happens when tempers get short, attention wanes, maybe now is when we really should be practicing those Random Acts, maybe now is when we need it most?  Maybe now we need to continue doing good things…so where do you start?

There are websites dedicated to just this idea, research them, even the lame ones have great ideas (just Google search “Random Acts of Kindness” for 6,830,000 results)…but before you do, consider what makes you smile, what thoughtful things you appreciate.  Is it the couple with a basket full of groceries that lets you step in line in front of them with just your toothpaste to purchase?  Is it the guy in the coffee line at your favorite espresso shop who paid for yours too?  Is it when someone holds the door for you when you have your hands full?  Did your heart glow when you saw the Giving Tree at your local bank or retail store at Christmas? Remember there are needy all year long.  The Boy Scouts and Post Office collect canned goods, but could you not wait, go down to the local Food Bank with a donation yourself, perhaps just by cleaning out your cupboards? 

Random Acts of Kindness don’t have to cost money, but they should cost you something…your time, your talent, your spare change.  Invest in this, even if just with your smile.