Tuesday, September 8, 2015

My New (New) Car (Lexus GX 460)

So, remember in April when I got my Lexus NX 200? Well, after 5 months I could no longer ignore the irritations that were slowly driving me crazy:

1. Size- it was too cramped for me inside
2. Nav screen- instead of a touchscreen it had a weird touchpad that made using the screen a royal pain.
3. No digital clock- small, but still annoying
4. Lack of space for odds and ends (phone, etc).

While I realize that some of these were small, when your monthly payments are what they are, you need to be skipping all the way to the bank. And I just wasn't. So last week I went back the dealership and got my dream car (see item #10 on the old list- see, I already was dissatisfied!). It's Silver Lining exterior, with Ecru interior. The nav screen is touchscreen, and the overall size is nice and big so I have excellent viewing angles while driving.

There's no changing my mind now- especially after the depreciation penalty I had to pay! But no worries- I LOVE my GX!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

AT&T Uverse vs DirecTV

We have had DirecTV since 2001 (at least, Dean has had it since then. I joined him in 2004 when we moved in together and happily left Time Warner Cable in NYC). Generally we had been quite happy with it until we moved last October at which point we started having some weird equipment issues (HDMI cable, some other part, etc) that caused us to spend a fair amount of time on the phone with DirecTV and they even had to send our a repairman on Thanksgiving Day. By the end of the year we decided to switch to AT&T Uverse since we already have their phone and internet service.
After 5 very unfulfilling months I have just made the call to switch back to DirecTV and could not be happier. Here are my main Uverse TV gripes:

1. The interface is sooooo slow! Doing a search takes forever and there is no way to access your most recent searches.
2. Your purchased rentals don't show up in your recorded show list. So, the only way to retrieve the show if you have had to pause it is by using the search (see #1).
3. The preview box while searching through channels. We accidentally forgot to have the child lock on the TV as we scrolled one evening and I was horrified to see a very inappropriate scene from 'Girls' pop up in the box. We caught it before my son could see it or figure out what was coming next but that was traumatizing for us.
4. The 'recorded' shows folder. For an unknown reason, most of the shows are listed individually instead of nested in their parent folder. It makes for a very untidy browsing experience when there are a million "Curious George" episodes sprinkled between every other show.
5. Slow internet. I can't completely prove this but I strongly suspect that something in the Uverse setup is a drain to my internet speed and, possibly range. I'll check the difference once we switch back.
6. The guide. I really loved the ability to keep watching my show while I scrolled through to see what else is on TV. Now it hides my show and the preview box shows what else is on TV.

So, with that I excitedly look forward to our reinstatement with DirecTV this Saturday! Can't wait!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Patio 2.0

Over the past few weeks I have been working on our patio with the hopes of making it a colorful, beautiful place to relax. I'm pleased to show the (semi) finished product:

 This wall houses a neat hanging piece that Dean and I found at a garden center nearby. He has it bolted to the brick. Underneath I've got one of my lighter Panacea plant stands.  I've got a hanging plant and my Arabella garden stool.

This area is my nursery and holds most of my best planting efforts. I've got a Panacea plant stand and a Pangea step style one. The 'lemon tree' is a metal piece we got from a local arts store.

Above the plant stand is Umberto, our favorite gecko. I've got 2 more hanging plants over the table and that's it.

I called the patio semi-complete because the final piece is a glass covering that we plan to have installed by June. It's supposed to block the UV rays but still let the light in so I'm sure by the installation date we'll be thrilled to have the some sun block!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

My New Car! (Lexus NX200)

A little over 5 years ago Dean got me a brand new Nissan Rogue and it has been a gem ever since then. However, in the past few weeks I've been a bit.... Vehicularly restless. My first idea was to move up to the Nissan Murano so we headed off to the Nissan dealership.
However, I soon learned that the Murano was redesigned for this year and as part of that redesign the shape, which was the main thing that attracted me to it, had changed. Instead of sweeping curves there were now sharp lines and edges. I had also started off interested in getting something in red but found that most leaned more towards maroon. Frustrated we left the Nissan dealership and headed home.
The next day I decided to take a look at some of the Lexus models and, within a few hours, I was sold on a Nebula gray pearl NX. The cream and black interior has me madly in love. This is definitely my dream car!
In no particular order, here are the wow factors for me:
1. Sunroof
2. Built in navigation
3. Backup camera and parking assistant
4. Power tailgate (trunk opens and closes at the push of a button.
5. The ride is so smooth!
6. It has a remote app too!
7. The driver memory button
8. The exit mode. I'm not sure what the actual name is but everything moves out of the way to make room for you to get out. With my long legs I really need that!
9. The heated and cooled seats.  Yes, cooling seats!
10.  The promise of a new car in 4 years. I've never leased before and now I'm wondering why.
11. Wireless charger built in (although every time I use it I forget my phone in the car!)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

My Vanity Nook

It's finally done!! I now have an amazing space to get ready to face each day and I couldn't be more pleased with it. This was not an inexpensive endeavor:

-Monarch Vanity Set- $158 (the original stool was not too sturdy so I got the Pier 1 version)
-Over the Door Mirror- $40 (This is the second door to my closet which I don't use)

Wow....itemizing this list was a sobering experience!

I'm especially glad with the roll-out cart to hold my toiletries so that I don't clutter up the vanity table with anything. I had a lot of fun putting it all together and scoured YouTube for inspiration.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Vanity Station in Progress

We're creating a space in the bathroom for me to use to get dressed. Here's what it looks like so far and what we have planned!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Maximizing every Nook

My new vanity set arrived today and gave me an excellent way to get the most out of the unused second entrance to my closet. I had previously used that spot for a hamper but decided that I wanted something more attractive to go there instead.
The set cost about $150 on Amazon and even though I may ultimately need to invest in a more sturdy bench, it's still a pretty good deal!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Project: Backyard Oasis

One of the few things that I really missed when we left our old home was the backyard. It's odd too, when I think about it, because our new yard is bigger, has a larger pool and mature trees. But, I designed my old one and I miss it sometimes:

Even with all our furniture gone it looked amazing!
So I've focused my sights on making our new backyard just as awesome, if not more so. Here is the blank canvas I started with:

I mentally divided the space into three unique experiences: a place to eat, a place to read and a place to lay out by the pool:

Place to Lay Out:
One of my first purchases when we moved was a set of outdoor chaises. One of my pet peeves in the old yard was the uncomfortable feeling of sitting on a cushion that would get soaked while wearing my wet bathing suit. Our new chaises are sturdy and plastic which means that they won't hold water as I go between laying out and dunking in the pool. I got a matching table that opens to hold ice and drinks. I decided to use the area that gets the most sun for this zone so it is in front of the 2 windows (the workout room is on the other side) and closest to the steps into the pool:

Place to Eat:

I had already decided to put the dining table in the nook of the u shape so that's where it went. And it was fine except for 2 things: the ground is a different color from the rest of the yard which just grated at the OCD part of my nature. And secondly, it really needed some overhead cover (we're in Texas, y'all!). At first I started thinking about having a regular cover built like we had done at the old house, but then I got concerned about how dark it would make the interior of the house (Remind me to tell you about how much I love the sunlight pouring through the floor to ceiling windows). After some research we decided to go with a tinted  glass ceiling and we'll be getting a quote on that work next week. In the meantime, I added 2 outdoor rugs and I think they've made the floor discrepancy less obvious:

Now my ocd can be directed on the folds that need to work their way out of the rugs!

Place to Read:
I realize that by calling this a 'place to read' I have really minimized the purpose of this zone.  This is actually my zen corner to read, unwind and reflect.  This zone actually has 2 points- my Martha Stewart outdoor sofa and then 'the wall'. Here is the couch area:

It overlooks the pool as well as 'the wall'. Let me try and explain the wall.... when we first arrived, the wall had luscious plants that somewhat covered the utility boxes under that satellite (see the earlier pic of the blank slate). Once we had our first freeze they all died or hibernated and basically sloped over and turned brown. Then I tried to get a trellis set up that would cover the area but that didn't work.
Today we went to Lowes determined to find a solution. In the fence aisle we finally found it- bamboo!

This photo also shows you the entire layout of all the zones

Dean immediately got to work mounting it to the wall. It fit perfectly and covered the utility boxes. I then added some pieces from Pier 1 and now the wall is an amazing zen area:

And with that, our backyard is now an exciting place to be. Next week we should begin the process of getting a glass cover for the dining area so that should be the finishing touch!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Year of Nexus 7

I can't believe I've had my Nexus 7 for (nearly) a year! I've had no issues with it and it has served me very well. My favorite things about it:

1. The wireless charging!
2. The bare Android experience- no clutter.
3. No hiccups or issues (knock wood!)
4. Size- very hand friendly
5. Low maintenance- I've put a Zag on it and that's all I've had to do.

The only thing that I really wish it had was the pen writing ability. I'm still convinced that at some point there will be the perfect device that adds everything that I have with an awesome 's pen'.