Sunday, August 30, 2009

My new digs...

Well, I've been seriously lacking in the blog department, so I thought I'd somewhat make up for it with a post on my new digs. I'm renting an apartment in a nice complex...two pools, two exercise rooms (which I actually plan to take advantage of), well-kept grounds and it's gated. Here's the view outside my living room window. It would really be nice if the fountain was working, but because of the drought in south Texas, no one is allowed to run fountains.

Here's what you see when you walk into the apartment. I made quite a bit of money when I sold all my furniture before I moved, so I treated myself to some new things. Since the place is small, I didn't have to buy much. And I cut corners by doing things like sewing two inexpensive Wal-Mart curtains together to get the look I cost was about $25. Plus, my son was working at JCPenney at the time of the move where that rug was normally $250. With a 50% off sale and his discount, I got it for about $75.

There are lots of windows, so it's bright and sunny in the living and dining area. I like the arched bay windows in the dining room. I normally don't like mirrored walls, but this one is kind of nice and makes the room look bigger.

A view from the other side. No recliners in this place!

And towards the front door...

Here's looking towards the kitchen from the couch. Nutter, get off the counter!!

And here's looking through the kitchen. I was thinking of making two stained glass pieces that would fit into those two long narrow windows on each side of the center window. Wouldn't that be pretty? Especially with all the light that comes through.

Here's the little desk area where I work on my blog...among other things. I miss the windows I had in my office at the house, but it's okay.

All in all, I really like it. It's a lot smaller than the house, but that doesn't bother me...and it's less to clean! It's a very comfortable place and it's good for me for the time being. It is such a pleasure not to spend my weekends on yard work and such a relief not to worry about something going wrong with the house. I know I will eventually want to put my "stamp" on something again, but for right now, this is okay. Who knows...maybe I'll end up buying something in Mexico!

Anyway, here is a closeup of the batik I bought on Isla last time I was there. I just bought some of those boards you stretch artist canvas on and voila...a nice wall hanging! Kind of a grisly picture, I guess, but I liked the colors.

The friendly guy I bought it from, tried to tell me the story behind it, but I couldn't understand most of what he was saying! Ha!

And here's a closeup of my Mexico shelf. I like the little dolls sold by...

...these lovely ladies...

Back to the apartment. Here's the little patio area off the dining room. That door is to a little storage area.

And the view. All the trees make it very private. No one can see you sitting there, which is nice.

Since I had practice framing the batik, I thought I'd cover up this eyesore...

...the same way. So much better, right? And it only cost about ten bucks.

So that's my new place.

Now I gotta go study.

I decided to take advantage of the staff tuition discount at the university and take a Spanish course. My first class was last Wednesday. The instructor is from the Domican Republic and about 60 years old, but has a lot of energy and is funny. I heard since then that he's a good teacher and you learn a lot in his class, so that's good. It's been about 20 years since I've taken a class, so this should be interesting.

On that note, hasta luego!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Steak 'n Shake

Some of you will be able to relate to this...others will not. I grew up in St. Louis where Steak 'n Shakes were very prevalent. There were none in South Dakota when I lived there, and I thought their only location in Texas was in Dallas. So when I went up to South Austin to do some shopping, I was VERY surprised to find a new one. So I had to stop in for old times' sake.

It must have caught on, because it was very crowded and I had to wait in line for a I took some pictures while I waited. Here's the grill...

The counter seating area...

"Takhomasak"...this was an advertising campaign for awhile in which they translated "Take Home a Sack" into their own version which no one could pronounce correctly in their commercials.

Steak 'n Shake was formed in 1934 in Normal, Illinois, so it definitely has that '50s feel.

Here's the menu. Can you beat those prices, for cryin' out Pete's sake?? I don't think so. And this isn't fast food! This is a sit down and be served kind of place. Other than their Steakburgers, their claim to fame is their chili which also comes as a chili-mac with noodles. Sorry...didn't get any pictures of that.

They're also pretty famous for the shakes and malts. I haven't had a malt in years (gotta watch the waistline, you know), but my will powered weakened for this visit. OMG, it was wonderful. Too thick to sip through a straw...had to use a spoon.

Here's my burger. I've always loved their skinny little fries.

Well, they've finally put a Steak 'n Shake they just need to add one of these...

Then I would be a happy camper.

So I was driving home and passed by this, and had to take a picture.

This is how happy I am that I don't have to shop at Lowe's anymore.

Not to mention not having to do this anymore...

So on a totally different note, we had our department picnic today so I was the photographer for the event. One of our professors is from China and his wife had a baby a year ago. She is adorable, and I thought I'd add this for a "cuteness" factor.

And these are her cute little toes. All together now... "Awwwwwww......"

Sunday, August 16, 2009

At the Outlet Mall...

Just a quick post tonight...mostly to let people know I haven't died or anything from the virus I had. I do, however, feel like I lost a whole week there, and used this weekend to make up for it. I pretty much did nothing in the way of decorating or putting things away in the apartment last week, but am now putting my "touch" on things and did a little shopping this weekend.

Speaking of shopping, my relocation has landed me exactly one mile from the largest outlet mall in Texas...which could be a very bad thing. This outlet is HUGE. In fact, it is actually two outlet malls...Tanger Outlet and Prime Outlet. I can't even venture a guess as to how much acreage this place takes up. And next weekend is "tax-free" weekend. Everyone can buy all clothing articles with no tax included. OMG, you have no idea what a frenzy this little event creates. Five years ago, I drove up from New Braunfels to take advantage of the deal. I kid you not, I drove around for a half hour before I could find a parking place. Then stood in line for at least another 30 minutes in each store. I swore to myself, "never again." I would gladly pay state tax not to have to go through that horrendous experience. In addition to Texas shoppers, I think about a million Mexico residents drive up for this pleasurable event which is evident from all the Mexico license plates in the parking lot.

Since I have been seriously lacking in taking pictures with my new camera, I decided to take it along just to experiment with different lightings a the outlet mall. Here's a view of the mall from one way...

And another...

Sidebar: About four years ago, they had a major hail storm that hit this place really hard...the hail was about the size of softballs. I wish I would have had a camera back then, because I drove by afterwards and the damage it did was incredible. All the clay tile roofs were ripped apart and thrown on the ground. It was a huge mess with damage in the millions.

Here's a little waterway they have in the new addition (they keep on adding stores). It used to have little gondolas that ran through it, but I think they must have done away with those.

My favorite store there is...

But I got there at 10:45 this morning and they don't open until 11:00, so I went a few stores up to Dooney & Bourke to pass some time. I'm not a big purse-buyer and usually keep one for a few years before I buy another. I liked this one because I thought it would make a good Isla purse with the umbrellas and flip-flops. If you click on the picture for a close-up, you'll see that the "sale" price is $124.00. I think I'll pass. I like the little homemade ones I've picked up on Isla better...for a LOT less.

See those tall beer glasses on the right? I was checking some dishes out, and saw this guy pick one up and say to his wife, "Hey, honey...I could just have ONE beer with this one! Hahaha!" Ten minutes later, I roamed back to the same area and a different guy picked one up and said the same exact thing to his wife. I'm not kidding. Must be a guy thing. Sidebar: You guys need to get together and come up with some more original jokes...ha!

Some pretty blue glasses...

Some pretty striped bowls...

Then I went to the Pottery Barn. You know, I would really like to like the Pottery Barn, but I honestly think it's WAY overpriced. Since I'm still looking for a few furniture pieces, I checked them out, but their original price for anything is like a million dollars, and their sales price is $3,000. Give me a break. Most of it is dirty and/or scratched. I really don't know how they sell anything. But the place was packed, so who knows?

On my way home, I stopped at a furniture place I had never visited before. This was definitely a Texas-oriented furniture store. I was really sorry I missed this when I was looking for a couch...(NOT)...

I'm looking for an easy chair next to my sofa...something small, but comfortable. What do you think of these??

What's with the fringe, for cryin' out loud?? But when I look at these, I can see myself sitting there in a huge dress made out of old drapes, swallowing some perfume and saying, "Rhett, oh, Rhett...there's always tomorrow!"

On a final note, here's a hint of what my new digs look like. I still need a few items, so I'm not going to post more yet. If I had a show on HGTV, I would suggest that you plan your decorating scheme around your pets...

Look how Nutter coordinates so well with the surrounding furnishings. The black and cream colorings in her fur mesh very well with the couch, carpet and decorative rug. And the greenish hue of her eyes make a good contrast with the coordinating pillows on the couch. Hahahaha! I'm kidding, of course. Actually, it's not a good thing, because there have been a few times when I couldn't find her and just couldn't see her on the rug...she blends right in and have almost stepped on her.

As for the camera, I am VERY impressed with the incredible clarity of the pictures. I'm looking forward to taking some "serious" pictures other than the outlet mall!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Yes, I'm still here...but have been under the weather the past week.

Last Friday, I started feeling achy and feverish and it has pretty much gone on this whole past week. Not bad enough to stay home from work, but enough to feel pretty shitty while AT work. Having returned from my trip to Mexico a couple weeks ago, I couldn't help but think... "Oh, my God, it's the...

...flu. But I was assured that it was just a virus thingy and it would have to run its course. For the life of me, I've never been able to understand why everyone else who goes to the doctor for any measly ol' thing gets to come home armed with drugs. It seems like every time I go (which is not very often because I VERY rarely get sick), it's something that just has to "run its course," and I just get to come home with a bill feeling the same as when I went in. *sigh*

So I've had about as much energy this week as a pile of...

Even after stopping by Best Buy last Friday and treating myself to this as a personal "I finally sold the house" gift.

This shot of Nutter was about the only thing I could muster...

On Saturday, most of my furniture was moved in...something I normally would have been pretty excited about, but this better shows my mood that day.

Sunday was even worse...I felt like CRAP! Anyway...not someone to feel sorry for myself, it's been a slow recovery and today was the first day I actually felt like part of the living. So when someone suggested Happy Hour, I grabbed my new camera and tagged along for 99 cent Margaritas. (Only had one...didn't want to push it.)

Hopefully, I'll be able to experiment a little more with the new camera this weekend!