Heading to Heath: Headaches and Heart Attacks

Bill mugging for the camera in the water induction machine.

Bill mugging for the camera in the water induction machine.

Though building the house in Heath is mostly a joyful experience, there have been hiccups. Ya gotta take the good with the bad.  So here’s some of the bad.

Water Induction

I mentioned this a few weeks ago, but it really was bad news.  The drought is effecting the moisture of the ground, deep below houses.  There’s a chance that without the water induction treatment, somewhere down the road there might have been a problem with the foundation – but it was a slim chance that might occur long after we live there and the procedure is very expensive.  It also adds zero to the actual value of the house.  Every penny we spend down in the dirt where no one can see it, is money we can’t spend on making the house pretty.

Waiting for a pretty day to pour concrete

Waiting for a pretty day to pour concrete

Concrete Blow-outs

Sometimes after the cables are tightened on a post tension foundation, a few of the cables will pop out of the concrete.  It’s really no big deal.  It means more work, but once it’s fixed it doesn’t compromise the foundation.  Problem is, there was no one to tell us that after 5 PM on a Friday afternoon when we discovered them – and we got the pleasure of worrying about them all weekend long.

True to the contractor’s word, the trouble spots were jack-hammered out, the cables were re-engineered and then they set the forms for concrete to be poured.  Second problem – the weather changed and waiting for the foundation to be fixed slowed down the process – by weeks!

The Fireplace Position

The day the framer’s started, Bill met with the foreman and walked him through the entire house pointing out details like where in the laundry room the doggie door would be and how he wanted the fireplace to be positioned.  So, of course, the doggie door went in at the wrong place and the fireplace wasn’t positioned correctly.  The doogie door was a minuscule problem.

The fireplace was a bigger challenge.  See, even though we’d told the general contractor about the problem, the subs were coming in installing the gas, the fire box and the pipe that went up the chimney.  Eventually everything had to be pulled out, pulled down and re-installed.  It didn’t cost anything except time, but when you’re building, time is money.

The Dust Catcher We Didn't Know We Wanted

The Dust Catcher We Didn’t Know We Wanted

The Dust Catcher 

I don’t know that they actually have a name, but that’s what I call that place inside that’s directly over the front porch.  Most folks put fake ferns or antique trunks up there.  Well, I don’t like them, so I told the architect we didn’t want one.  What I didn’t realize was that by not having the dust catcher the beautiful window with the princess balcony on it would not only be a faux balcony, it would also be a faux window.

As soon as the sheathing went up we realized that the great view of the fourth fairway which we’d been enjoying during the framing would go away.  It’s the sort of thing that you really can’t “see” on an architectural drawing, but we couldn’t live with it.

Cha-ching!

The Nook Windows

So when you enter the house, one of the first things you see is a view of the pond through the breakfast nook windows – or not.  Maybe you’ll just fixate on rails in the middle of the windows and not see anything else.  That’s what Bill saw the day the windows were installed.  Like the dust catcher, it was one of those things  you don’t anticipate as you pore over your plans, but the view is what sold us on the lot.  So – the pocketbook takes another hit.

So that’s a few of the headaches and heart attacks we’ve sufered since we’ve been building.  Now you know why we go everyday to check on things.  Come back next week and see some of the things we’ve picked out for the house.

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Travel There: Magical Moonstone Beach

The Sun Sets on a Great Road Trip Day

The Sun Sets on a Highway One Road Trip

While living on the Central Coast of California, Cambria was one of our favorite places to spend a Sunday afternoon.  It’s a cute little village with wonderful shopping and some good places to eat.  We thought the best part of Cambria was Moonstone Beach.

Tourist Galore

We aren’t the only ones who like Moonstone Beach.  During a stroll on the boardwalk you can hear languages from around the world – and why not?  Cambria is right off Highway One, just about halfway between LA and San Francisco.  Hearst Castle is virtually around the corner.  And Moonstone Beach?  Gorgeous.

The Photo Dilemma

I wish I had a beautiful picture of Moonstone Beach to show you, but I messed up.  I didn’t take many pictures on my trip, because I knew I had plenty in my scrapbooks.  The problem is that since I took the trip I’ve sold my home and am living in a rental.  All my scrapbooks are packed away in boxes waiting for the house we’re building to be completed.  So you’ll just have to use your imagination.

Moonstone Beach Drive is a small two-lane street.  On one side of the street is a row of some of the cutest little bed-and-breakfast inns you’ve ever seen.  On the other side of the road is a rocky beach, protected by gnarled junipers.  Between the squatty trees and the rocky beach is the boardwalk.  Just off shore, seals bask in the sun atop outcrops of rock.  Nearby, otters cavort with one another and seabirds reel in the air.  The clean air is scented with salt, pine and just a hint of seaweed.  Along the beach you’ll find large pieces of driftwood smoothed by wind and water.  Yeah – I love it.

The Other Dilemma

As I planned this trip, I had visions of getting to our inn in the early afternoon.  I thought we might pick up a bottle of wine along the way and relax by the fire.  Then just before the sunset, we’d walk over to the beach and stroll along as the sun went down.  That’s not how it happened.

We were a little later than I expected getting away from San Francisco.  Then we took a little longer than I’d planned on in Monterey.  And who could blame us for lingering at Nepenthe and Ragged Edge.  As a result we blew into Cambria as the sun was going down.  I had to virtually drag a very reluctant husband across the street to capture the last few moments of the setting sun…but you know what – it was worth it.

Though he’d begrudgingly trudged across the street in the gathering darkness, we were in the right place to capture the last glimmer of the sun as it disappeared into the sea.  Even he had to admit that it was worth the effort.

Something else totally worth it was our accomodations.  Come back next week and I’ll tell you all about it.

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Travel Here: What I Did While Occupied Elsewhere – Part Duex

Here’s the rest of the stuff I did when I was too busy to blog about it.

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The Kimbell Art Museum (Faces of Impressionism) – I mentioned the Musee d’Orsay while describing the DMA’s current exhibit, but the portraits over at the Kimbell right now are actually from that famous depository of Impressionism.

Confession, portraits are not my favorite thing.  I like paintings with people in them, but I prefer almost every other subject matter over portraiture.  Confession number two. I had no idea what special exhibition the Kimball had going on.  I’d just been meaning to get over there and see the new Piano Pavilion ever since it opened last fall.  (Even more proof of how overwhelmed I’ve been lately!)

So, when my little sister suggested a play date, this was at the top of my list.  I also hadn’t had a Joe T. Garcia’s Tex-Mex fix since my birthday in March, so I added lunch to our itinerary.  The ever-amiable Susan was agreeable.

Confession number three.  I loved this exhibit.  I loved it so much that I bought the catalog – and believe me,  I’m not exactly hurting for art books.  Perhaps the reason I loved it so much was the fact that when it came to portraiture, the Impressionists shook the art world up with it as much as they did with everything else they painted.  This show will be there through January 25th.  You need to get over there and see it.

I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the Piano Pavilion, also.  The Kimbell has an amazing collection of art, but at any given time, most of it was under wraps to make way for the spectacular special exhibitions they have hosted.  With the Piano Pavilion, they’ve created a wonderful place for special shows and made more room for their own extraordinary collection.

All in all, it was a great day in Ft. Worth, in spite of the fact that my little sister balked at sitting out on the Fiesta Patio.  So what if it was a chilly November day.  I sat inside munching on my family style dinner looking through the window at the patio wishing I was there.  It was almost perfect.

DAB Autumn11292014Dallas Arboretum ( Autumn at the Arboretum) – When we finally got to this year’s Autumn at the Arboretum it was in it’s last days.  You could tell, because workers were already assembling the holiday exhibits.  Still there were plenty of beautiful flowers and about a zillion pumpkins of every imaginable shape, size and color.  As you can see from this photo borrowed from the front of the DABS fall program, the garden is beautiful whatever the season.

I was glad to see that the water features of the Magnolia Glade were finally flowing.  They’d proven to be a sticky wicket for a while, but none of the previous frustrations are apparent nowadays.  One of my favorite parts of the garden is currently under renovation.  It used to be the Lay Ornamental Garden and it is being transformed into the Lay Family Garden.  I’m excited to see what they’ll do, but I did miss seeing it.

The Dallas Arboretum is always treat – whatever time of year it is and regardless of whether there is currently any special event going on.  right now, it’s all decked out for the holidays, so do plan on seeing it.  However, you should see it often, so you don’t miss a thing.

Arhaus NP11292014NorthPark Center (Arhaus Grand Opening Party Nov 14) –  How could I leave NorthPark out of this cavalcade of my favorite places – the ones I go to even when I don’t really have time to go anywhere?  I am on NorthPark’s weekly email list.  That doesn’t mean I’m any cooler than someone who’s not, except that I did take time to go on their website and click the button.

As a part of this list, I get frequent updates as to what’s happening at this mall which I consider to be the center of the universe.  Seriously!  When we first discussed building the house in Heath, one of my first considerations was how long it would take me to get to NorthPark from there.

Anyway, some weeks all they tell me about are sales or the latest addition to the food court, but I also get some awesome invitations.   That’s what happened on the week in question.  In fact, that NorthPark Noteworthy was chockful of good stuff.  They were inaugurating something called Watch Week and I was invited to the Arhaus Grand Opening.

First allow me to rave about Arhaus.  If you are interested in furniture and furnishings, it’s in there.  They have gorgeous stuff and they have lots of it.  You shouldn’t have to be bribed to visit with free champagne.  However, it certainly was nice to see all their beautiful merchandise while munching exquisite goodies and quaffing cold champagne.  (In real flutes I might add.  No plastic or paper cups for this crowd.)  Make your way to Arhaus!  It’s worth a special trip.

As the Arhaus party wound down, we wandered back into the mall and happened onto a place called Pirch.  We seriously couldn’t figure out what it was.  Was it a coffee shop?  Were they selling plumbing fixtures?  Was it an appliance showroom?  Believe it or not, the answer to all three questions in YES!!

Unfortunately, I was a little late in requesting an invitation to the Watch Week events.  We did go back to the mall on Saturday and visit several of the watch and jewelry boutiques, but all we heard over and over and over was that we SHOULD have been there Thursday night.  See if I ever wait to ask Bill whether he’s interested or not.  I’ll just request the invitation and then figure out who will go with me!

So, we had a great time at NorthPark and you have three assignments.  Visit Arhaus.  Visit Pirch.  It’s right next door to Arhaus.  Sign up for the NorthPark Noteworthy email list.  Then I’ll be seeing you at some of their fabulous events.

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Loving Me Some Lenicam

logoExcuse the shameless self-promotion, but I’m so excited I can’t help it.  For several months now I’ve been working on revamping the LeniCam Video Productions website.  It launched late last night and I’m giggly with excitement.  I just had to share it with my WordPress family and friends.

Helping Hands

We had a great SEO company, Osky Blue, helping out with all the technicalities and I’ve been writing copy and blogs since May.  This morning I am wearing them out with questions that I should have asked before, but you know how it is, I didn’t know what to ask.  We’re looking forward to our Google ranking skyrocketing!

LeniCam Video Productions

Though I haven’t said much about it here, LeniCam produces wonderful event videos – for everything from weddings to soccer games with corporate videos in the mix.  You can watch a lot of samples on the site.  I wrote most of the descriptions for the weddings except for the really old ones.

Tell Us What You Think

Now I’d really like to know how we’ve done.  If you get the chance go check out the website.  Click through the menu, try out the buttons and make yourself at home.  If you know someone how might need a videographer, share the site with them.

You guys are great!  Thanks so much!

 

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Heading to Heath: As Some Things Went Up, Others Came Down

Before

Before

Last week I gave you an overview of the progress we’d made on the house. Most of the progress we’ve made has to do with things going up.  but we’ve been just as happy with some of the things which have come down.

Clearing the Lot

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During

Here’s a news flash!  Builders and clients have different priorities.  Here’s how our lot looked when we found it.  It was spring and things were beginning to turn green around our pond.  In our contract for the land, our developer promised the lot would be cleaned in the next two weeks.  It didn’t happen that way.

Our hope had been to figure out if there were any decent trees in the mess and based on that, which angles had the best view when the trash trees and foliage were gone.  When the trees didn’t come down, then we had to climb through the brush and try to figure it out for ourselves.  That’s when we found out the pond had a bad dose of chiggers.  That’s an asset we’d have been happy to forego.

After

After

After the lot had gotten it’s water treatment, they showed up to clear the land around the pond.  I envisioned a crew with chainsaws and bulldozers.  What we got were a couple of guys with axes and hand saws.  Still, the lot did get cleared and we were able to finally ascertain exactly what we’d be seeing through the windows.

The Lone Oak

As an aside, I’ve got to tell you about our oak.  Among all the trash trees an oak struggled for life.  We decided to see if it would thrive after the brush was moved away.

The oak looked pretty pitiful and once the balcony for my office was added, it also blocked the view.  You can see its shadow in the after picture.

Bill and I continued to debate whether we were actually going to keep it.  Eventually, we decided it was both too sick and too much in the way to stay.  I thought that was the end of it for now.  We’d just wait until we were tackling the landscape to get rid of the pitiful thing.

Bill the Lumberjack

Bill the Lumberjack

Au contrare!  The next time we went to the lot, Bill had his chainsaw with him.  It’s an electric chainsaw unworthy of even a bit part in a horror movie, but it was a chainsaw.  He’d researched cutting down trees and was ready to do battle.  Thankfully, one of the guys on the plumbing crew was a little more familiar with the process than Bill and he came out to help.  Bye bye tree.

So far, so good!  But not everything has been easy.  Next week I’ll let you in on some of the headaches and heart attacks.

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Travel There: Beautiful Big Sur

2014-06-23 17.31.50

Sculpture at Nepenthe in Big Sur

You don’t need me to tell you that Big Sur is a beautiful place to visit.  There’s a reason it’s one of the top destinations in California.  However, I do need to tell you about a few of my favorite places along the way.

Nepenthe

Nepenthe is at the northern end of Big Sur, a little ways south of Carmel.  I have a hard time explaining this place to people. It’s mostly a restaurant, except that it’s not just a restaurant. The view is remarkable and the food is good, but it’s more than that.  When I pull off the road and into their parking lot I always feel like I’ve been granted entrance into another world. There are all sorts of legends attached to the place and at least one movie was filmed on site. You just have to go. That’s all that I can say.

From the Phoenix Gift shop

From the Phoenix Gift shop

A part of the attraction, for me, is the Phoenix Gift Shop. It’s bigger than a mere gift shop or at least it seems that way and they don’t carry your average souvenirs. I’m sure you can buy t-shirts and ball caps with Big Sur splashed all over them, but that’s almost beside the point. They have handcrafted musical instruments, artisan jewelry, lots of books, unique wind chimes and the list goes on. Don’t neglect to go downstairs. That’s where they have the clothes.

I aspire to buy all my clothes at The Phoenix. Everything is handmade, unique, unusual and/or exotic, but none of it is weird. Does that make any sense? It’s the sort of thing that makes people want to ask where it came from, but not for the wrong reasons. It’s all out of my price range – not in the sense of couture pricing, but it costs more than it makes sense for me to spend, when I don’t have any room for anything else in my closet. It’s like if my house burned down, I’d go there with my insurance money to start all over, because most of what I’d buy doesn’t go with what I have.

However, I usually buy something.  This trip it was a t-shirt.  It had been marked down enough times for me to feel like I stole it.  Now that I’m home I love wearing my find.  People always comment on it and when I tell them where I bought it, they’re always jealous.

The Cliff at Ragged Edge from Highway One

The Cliff at Ragged Edge from Highway One

Ragged Point

At the southern end of Big Sur is Ragged Point.  It’s sort of an inn/restaurant/gas station/snack shop/photo opportunity.  Call it what you will, I always stop.  I’m usually in need of a break and Ragged Point has an absolutely jaw-dropping view.

I have eaten at the restaurant, but I didn’t on this trip.  It’s been an uneven experience.  Great one time, horrid the next.  While we were there, someone said it had new ownership/management and was going through a sort of Renaissance, but don’t hold me to that.

There’s a nature trail that wanders down to the edge of a cliff – that’s where your jaw will become unhinged.  We sort of stroll down there and back. A nice little break.

San Simeon

Most people go to San Simeon to visit Hearst Castle and that’s a darned good reason to go, but I saw the sprawling estate frequently when I lived on the Central Coast, because everyone who came to town wanted to see it.  The tour takes a lot of time and the price of admission discourages casual visits.

Elephant Seals on the Beach at San Simeon

Elephant Seals on the Beach at San Simeon

Just north of the Hearst Castle is a scenic overlook that looks over more than just sand and sea.  Elephant seals have chosen it as their home.  They aren’t very pretty and the smell is somewhat foul, but the sight of all the huge animals laying on the beach is pretty amazing.

The Day Draws to a Close

We woke up in San Francisco and at day’s end we were drawing close to Cambria, where we had reservations for the night.  Come back next week and I’ll tell you about one of my favorite places in the world:  Moonstone Beach.

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Travel Here: What I Did While Occupied Elsewhere

Though I didn’t have time to tell you about it, I did manage to have some fun while I was missing in action. Here’s a sample.

Kaleidoscope of Homes11292014

Kaleidoscope of Homes (Oct 12) – It’s no surprise that we’re in the midst of building a home, so a tour of homes was right up our alley.  We were thinking it would be more like the Dream Home events that used to be held in Plano and Frisco.  Not quite on that scale, but it did firm up some of the ideas we were contemplating for our house.  If you like decorating, then this might be a good event for you to plan to take in next year.

 

2014-10-25 11.22.21Driven by Design (Oct 23) – Thank you Cadillac and Architectural Digest for inviting us to this spectacular event.  We joined other Cadillac fans for brunch at the top of Museum Tower.  What a spectacular sight!  After a tour of one of the homes inside the Tower, we were ushered into a fleet of Cadillac Escalades to see several other amazing edifices.  What’s even better is that rather than merely being chauffeured around, everyone got the chance to drive the amazing machines!

The homes we saw were out of this world and the architects who designed them were on hand to show us around and answer our questions.  Then, back at Museum Tower, we were served a delicious snack buffet and given wonderful swag.  Not just samples, coupons and candy, like I’ve gotten at another vehicle manufacturer’s events (I won’t name any names but their initials are MB), but a unique gift box that I love filled with back issues of Architectural Digest and a beautiful coffee table book from Cadillac.  We’re sure glad someone put us on that guest list!

2014-10-26 15.58.56The Dallas Opera (The Marriage of Figaro Oct 26) – So it was my bestie’s birthday and my bestie loves opera.  Last year we also went to the opera, but we sat in the nosebleed section, because I waited too late to order the tickets.  This year I scored Terrace Right and we loved it.

I have a bit of a confession to make about my bestie.  She studied opera at SMU, so she’s a bit picky about performances.  This year everything was so perfect, from the sets to the voices, that she had nary a complaint.

Still to come this season are a pair of operas that I know nothing about (La Wally and Everest), but the ever popular La Boheme comes in March.  In April, look for Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta.  The Dallas Operas has been my favorite ticket for a long time and continues to be so.  I’m always amazed how many people don’t realize that they are one of the absolute best opera companies in the world.  Go see what I’m talking about!

DMA Bouquets11292014The Dallas Museum of Art (Bouquets) – To my everlasting regret, I missed the Partners Preview for Bouquets on October 24.  Finding the unanswered invitation on my desk about a week after the event is all the evidence I need to prove to you that I’ve been way too busy.

Though I didn’t get to the preview, I did make it to the museum to see the exhibit.  What words would be adequate to describe it?  Beautiful still life paintings of elaborate floral displays in gorgeous ornate frames.  Each offering was a riot of rich colors painted by the delicate hand of  master.  Still, I’m not doing it justice.  You absolutely MUST go to this exhibit.  It is truly one of the most beautiful collections of paintings I’ve seen in one place since I visited the Musee d’Orsay in Paris.  Please go before it closes.  It will be here through February 8, 2015.

Bald Soprano11292014The Bald Soprano at UD’s Margaret Jonsson Theater (Nov 5) – Talk about going from the sublime to the ridiculous.  Bouquets is one of the most amazing exhibits I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing.  The Bald Soprano was also amazing, but on the opposite side of the amazement scale.

OK, so it says right on the program that this is an “anti-play”, so I knew it was going to be a little out of the ordinary.  I can enjoy a good farse as well as the next girl.  Opera is rife with farses.  The Bald Soprano is beyond farse.

Still for most of the play, I was having a good time.  It was silly and it didn’t make much sense, but the world is a lot like that this day and time.  Then we got to what the audience thought was the end of the play and so we offered an appropriate measure of applause.  Unfortunately, the play continued for another half hour or so and it wasn’t nearly as much fun as it had been before.  The final applause was a little more tepid than the previous response.  Afterwards folks wandered to their car wondering exactly what had just happened to them.

I do want to say this.  In spite of the fact that we didn’t particularly enjoy this play, I want to give credit where credit is due.  The problem was not the actors or their acting.  The sets and costuming were good.  The problem was the play.  We eagerly await our invitation to the next offering by UD, because we’ve enjoyed several of their productions.  This just wasn’t our cup of tea.

There’s more fun to come!  Check back next week for Part Duex!

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