strumzilla

‚ÄčA blog/journal about my life and the stuff I like. Popular subjects include music, guitars, gear, books, movies, video games, technology, humor.

Filtering by Tag: Landscaping

Hey there sports fans...

A bit of a gap since the last update, as it happens. I've been back to work for the past 5 weeks, after a 3 week "vacation" in which we moved into our new home. Everything went relatively smoothly with the move with no significant problems. Along the way we cleared our rental and managed to get our security deposit back. I also managed to get in a fender bender on the day before we cleared the house. Luckily there were no injuries and my truck only sustained minor damage (I had to replace the passenger side mirror). My only official wreck in 30 years of driving (I may have been pulled into the magnetic field of a parking lot light pole many, many years ago. But that wasn't officially recognized by any municipal authorities) (probably because they weren't aware).  

We spent most of the 3 weeks trying to get the house in running order. We made some furniture and other household upgrades to include a new living room sectional sofa (aka Aeyong's new bed), nice tool bench/cabinet for the garage, 3 new ceiling fans, a metric crapton of additional network and speaker wiring, and multiple landscaping upgrades (flowers, shrubs, trees).  We also bought a new refrigerator and washer/dryer. It's a good thing we got our earnest money back from the Royal Crest Conundrum (that's the official historical title, mind) because we burned through that and more. 

We still have many upgrades planned for the future, but it will be a process over many years. We'll eventually add a patio, pergola, and outdoor kitchen to the backyard, but that's probably several years down the road. In the near term, we have two years to pay ourselves back for the 401K loan we had to take out to sell the Killeen house. We also plan on getting a new car (the first in 8 years) for Aeyong and I'll take the Pathfinder for the work commute. We don't want to add the car payment on until we clear the 401K loan. We could afford the new car now, but we adopted a pay as you go (not counting the house sale) policy many years ago, and we try not to carry any more debt than is necessary. A mortgage and a car loan are about our comfortable limit, for anything else we pay in cash. Since we have the outstanding 401K loan, we'll wait on the car. This policy allows us to live comfortably and still maintain the lifestyle we are accustomed to living. 

Music wise I went to see Slash at the Gigantour in Dallas. Great show as usual, if a bit shorter than normal since it was a festivalish show. I also saw Device which is the singer from Disturbed and I think a dude from Evanescence. They were pretty good. I also saw Hellyeah ? which is Vinnie Paul's band. I regret wearing sandals and being against the front of the stage. Total rookie move, by the way, but most bands I go see don't motivate the mosh as much. Black Label Society seemed good, although I'll be damned if I understood a word he sang or could really hear what he was playing. I skipped out on the headliner, Megadeth. I have Peace Sells, but I have never really gotten into Mustaine's singing or the music for that matter. 

We also saw Rodrigo & Gabriel at the newish? ATT Performing Arts Center in Dallas. They put on a good show like the last time we saw them in Austin, although they had a bit more set dressing. The audience seemed primarily composed of the hoity toity who have the disposable income to see and be seen in the arts district. My concert t-shirt was decidedly below the expected (not enforced) dress code of the cognoscenti.  It is a nice theater to see a show, though. We're going back in November to see Harry Connick for the first time in ten years. He's touring his latest album, and we're hoping he'll actually throw in some old hits. We previously saw him on a Christmas tour, and that was all that he played. No hits or non Christmas tunes (not counting about 30 seconds of Sweet Georgia Brown on the piano). 

Speaking of artists we haven't seen in a long while, we're going to see Steely Dan for the first time in, wait for it, ten years tomorrow night. They're not touring an album, but seeing how seldom they tour, we wanted to make sure we caught them. We have total nosebleeds since I wasn't sure prior to the move if we would be going and waited until several weeks after they went on sale to buy them. We'll be taking advantage of the video screens I'm sure. 

There's more to update, but I'm already running out of electrons at this point. 


The Dominion?

...or perhaps the demesne? The seat of House Hightower? The Dominion of House Hightower. Adequately pompous and douchey if I do say so myself. And I do be do be do.

Now that we have that out of the way (for today, at least) on to updates. This part will be really short. There aren't any to speak of, not really. We did have a meeting with Ben the Builder on Monday to discuss changes to the back patio. Our original request was based on the home theater extending towards the backyard and thereby providing a longer wall to put the outdoor kitchen/fireplace against. When we changed the direction of the home theater towards the left side of the house, we lost about 10 feet of wall. Unfortunately no one (including RC) thought to have another look at the outdoor kitchen and what affect the shorter wall would have.

With only about 10 feet of wall to work with now (there's a door in the corner), it would have been ridiculously tight to have the countertop, sink, barbecue top, and fireplace all in that space. We settled on having RC create a square pad at the outer border of the covered patio to place the fireplace, giving us 10 feet of space for the sink, countertop, and barbecue grill. That way we will maintain the view (for what it's worth) out of the living room and keep everything flush (ish) against the left wall. The fire place angles out at 45 degrees to cover the main seating/table area that we intend. Our porch isn't overly spacious at the moment, but it will be adequate for us two and the dogs, and it should be okay for entertaining.

We envision expanding the patio size outwards and adding some landscaping features over time. These are mostly upgrades that we intend to tackle ourselves. If we do expand the patio with concrete or equivalent, that is one exception where we might hire someone because we hear it's more cost effective if you are going to pour a large amount of concrete. I'm not sure how expansive we will want to go at this point. We will definitely want more space, and we're thinking about a hot tub at some point in the future as well. I don't see a pool happening, neither one of us would use it enough to justify the expense.

That is one nice element of having the one acre plot and well water. We can see eventually adding a koi pond and some japanese/asian influenced landscaping (I'm especially fond of their minimalist approach that engenders multiple interpretations) but still being able to maintain a big enough yard for the dogs to do their thing.

The other "update" is that we will meet with RC on Saturday morning to discuss finishes/colors (brick, flooring, countertops, cabinets, paints, orangutans, breakfast cereals, etc.). We have a good idea of what we want, now we just need to find out if we can afford it. Our price already includes granite countertops in all areas except the laundry room, and hardwood floors in the office, library (dining room), and living room. The relative quality level of the finishes will affect the price however. I don't think we necessarily care about the fu fu level (real estate term) on the cabinets, but we do want nice countertops and ideally we would like one of the more visually striking very light (almost white) colors to offset our dark cabinets & floors. I have a feeling that won't be available in the level 1 list. As I understand it there are 3 levels of granite countertops (at least for RC) and we were quoted the price for level 1s as part of our overall home price. Hopefully we can find something we like without adding to the budget.