In Search of: A Way to Make it Work and Get Out Alive

I’ve got super exciting news!

Remember when I booked my flight to Australia and frantically started planning an amazing summer trip — until, well, I decided to buy a house and all my plans went out the window? Yeah, me too. I had to cancel my flight and get a flight credit from Hawaiian Airlines. Since then, I’ve been watching flight prices for the school breaks and next summer, and I’ve got to tell you, things weren’t looking good. Prices were sometimes $1,000 more than the price I originally paid. Which did not make for happiness. Anyhow, none of that matters now because I found a fantastically priced ticket for spring break!! Yep. Australia is happening — April 2014.

I shared this news with my friend, Christy. She’s that awesome travel buddy I’ve told you about. She said to me, “The big question — what are you going to do while in Australia??” I gave her my list. Which was kind of a lot for a two week trip. And I mentioned I would have to figure out what would realistically fit. She responded, “Make it work!” (Seriously, I love this girl’s attitude.) Yes, yes! Make it work, I will do. So in the end, Christy’s advice boiled down to: make it work, and get out alive! (Okay, she was referring to TV shows. But, heck, I like it, so I’m running with it!) 🙂

So that’s my plan. I’m heading to Australia for spring break. And I am going to both make it work and get out alive!

Here are my top three things:

  1. Dive the Great Barrier Reef
  2. Sail the Whitsunday Islands
  3. Camp on Fraser Island

Wait. I have to hang with a koala too. And a kangaroo. Maybe I’ll find a Kangaroo in the Whitsundays?? Haha. Okay. No. I won’t. But I’ll find one on a beach somewhere!

I’ll be sure to share how the planning goes. Until then, make it work, peeps. Make it work!

 

Posted in Ramblings and Rants

In Search of: How to Update an Old Medicine Cabinet

I have a pet peeve when it comes to medicine cabinets. They’re often useful for storing things in hiding, but they also often have no style whatsoever. Especially the standard builders-grade medicine cabinets that so many homes come with (mostly from the 80’s and 90’s). My house was no different. The medicine cabinets were functional — they had mirrors and some handy storage behind those mirrors. But they were also pretty ugly, and there was no way of getting rid of them without a gaping hole left in the wall. I wasn’t in the mood to fill gaping holes. So I got on to finding a way to hide their hideousness. And find it, I did.

Here’s what I realized: a custom frame would fix those babies right up! In the master bathroom, I wanted to retain the usefulness of the mirror. So I simply framed the mirror, and left the mirror as-is. In the hall bathroom, I got a little more creative. Before framing the mirror, I sanded it down and painted it over with chalkboard paint (3 coats, to be exact). I love the outcome in both rooms. The cabinets look so much more polished. The frames really give them a finished look. And the chalkboard in my hall bath is a super-fun place for messages.

Here’s what you’ll need to do this yourself:

  1. Tape measure
  2. Miter box and hand saw
  3. Paint
  4. Wood (you can find great pieces at Lowe’s or your local home improvement store. I used leftover base board pieces to frame my mirrors. But you could also use trim wood, crown molding — or simply any other piece that fits your budget and style).
  5. Silicone (if your frames aren’t going to be white, be sure to buy the kind that can be painted)
  6. Premium construction adhesive

So you’ve got all your stuff together. Go measure your mirrors, and determine how long each piece should be. After you’ve measured twice (trust me, you would rather spend the extra time measuring again than having to re-cut the wood), cut your wood.

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Once the wood is cut, slap a couple coats of paint on them. I used spray paint, but you can use any type you like. I would, however, recommend you use a semi-gloss finish. You want to be able to wipe down the frames when needed, and seeing as how they’re in the bathroom, you know it’s going to be needed on occasion. You only need to paint one side thoroughly, but be sure to paint about a 1/2 inch or so on the back side where the frame will meet the mirror. The mirror will reflect a small part of that back portion, and you don’t want it to reflect unfinished wood.

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Once the paint has dried, you can get to securing the frames to the mirror. Run a bead of the construction adhesive along the back of your frame in a wave-like pattern. I started with the bottom piece first.

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Now press it against the mirror where you would like it placed, and hold for about 30 seconds. The glue will start to set, but not totally. This stuff takes a good hour or so to actually dry (read the directions on your particular adhesive). So grab some painter’s tape and secure the frame to the mirror/medicine cabinet. Once you’ve done the first piece of frame, give it about 30 minutes to dry, then move to the next piece. This slow process is a bit more time consuming, but it does ensure your frames will stay in place as they dry. The last thing you want is a piece of the frame sliding down the mirror without your noticing. ‘Cause that construction adhesive is SUPER stuck once it’s dry. I left the painter’s tape on the mirrors until the next morning just to be safe.

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In the morning, I peeled off the painter’s tape. You may find there are some small gaps between your frame pieces. Fill any gaps with silicone. And voila — custom-framed medicine cabinets!

Here’s what the cabinets looked like BEFORE:

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And here’s what they look like AFTER:

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Sometimes I leave the chalkboard cabinet almost blank (to let guests write messages on it), and sometimes I write favorite quotes on it. Super cute if you ask me!

I hope you found this helpful and got some inspiration for your own home! Enjoy.

 

Posted in The House Tagged , |

In Search of: Fun Gifts and a Trip to the Springs Preserve

My weekend started with a trip to the mailbox and a super-awesome gift package from my friend, Christy. Christy has become my go-to travel buddy over the years. We travel well together. And that’s seriously saying something because I have little patience when it comes to traveling with other people. I don’t say that to be mean. It’s just who I am. Spending that much time with one person often puts me on edge. But not with Christy! She’s awesome, and we always have SO much fun together! She also happens to be the best person I’ve ever met when it comes to sending fun things in the mail. Whenever there’s a colorful, cute envelope in my mailbox, I don’t even have to look at who it’s from. She finds the cutest little things and just sends them — for fun — because why not?!? So one of the things in my package this time was a super cute little rope bracelet from her trip to Australia this summer. I wore it yesterday on my first day back to school — a nice little reminder of my future trip to Australia (likely next summer!). So thank you, Christy!! You always make me smile.

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The rest of my weekend was spent thinking an awful lot about having to return to work on Monday. (Ack! It’s always tough going back after summer break.) I also took a trip to the Las Vegas Springs Preserve with my friend, Justin. It was my first time there, and it’s a great spot. There are trails (which I didn’t take this time because of the heat, but I’ll do them when the weather cools and report back), some great gardens, a small museum and even a desert animal exhibit/show.

Of course, there was also that moment I almost got eaten by a mammoth…

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Soon after the mammoth incident, we spent the later part of the afternoon grabbing lunch at the cafe and enjoying this lovely view of the Las Vegas valley.

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Posted in Outdoor Adventures, Ramblings and Rants Tagged |

In Search of: The Self-Portrait Series

The past couple weeks, I’ve had a crush on Pink’s latest album (The Truth About Love). Check it out — you’ll love it. There’s one song called “How Come You’re Not Here?” that’s a favorite. A line asks the question, “Did you take a long walk off a short pier?” Every time I hear it, I sing really loud. Because it’s just too dam funny, and it makes me laugh. Maybe you have to hear it to really appreciate the awesomeness. In any case, while creating this latest post, I started singing that song to myself. A lack of posts in the self-portrait department sort of begs the question,  “Did it take a long walk off a short pier?”

Um. No.

I’ve been working on it. I just haven’t posted much on the project in a while. And it occurred to me that I should start posting those!

Yesterday I did a quick session at my house for portraits. I wanted to see if it would be possible to take a good picture in the overgrown, weedy, unkempt bucket of rocks that I currently call my backyard. (I’ll get there one day to fix this mess; I swear.) Turns out, yes, you can take quite a lovely portrait there. And I daresay, the light in the evening is quite lovely. I took this picture when the sun was starting to tip in the ‘down’ direction. Not quite sunset because I had somewhere to go. But the light was yummy nonetheless.

Here’s the latest in the self-portrait series:

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Posted in Self Portraits

In Search of: Confessions – I’m No Runner

Okay. So I’m struggling with something. I thought perhaps if I put it out there on the blog, I’ll finally get it through my thick head. You see, I can’t run.

I could once run. I did an entire marathon for goodness sake.

But if you followed my blog back then, you know that during my marathon training, I developed a problem in both of my knees. My physical therapist told me it was iliotibial band syndrome (IT band syndrome, for short). I could once run 13 miles without stopping, and then suddenly I couldn’t run even a mile without excruciating pain in my knees. As I used to describe it, it felt like someone was driving a screwdriver into the side of my knee while I ran. And if I kept running, it sort of felt like they were then using a hammer to drive that screwdriver in a little further. At that point, I scaled back my running and went through physical therapy for a couple of months to treat it. It didn’t get better. I did every single exercise every single day for months on end. But it didn’t get better.

The injury was always temporary. At best, I would stop running and the pain would stop. At worst, it would be sore for a few days after running and then go away. I ended up having to walk the majority of the marathon because of it. Turned out my time as a walker wasn’t all that different than my anticipated time as a runner. So I was happy with my outcome. (What can I say? I’m a slooooow runner and a much faster walker.)

Anyhow, fast forward a couple years. I’ve tried off and on to go back to running. I’ve started slow. I’ve run/walked on a very specific program. I’ve done exercises to strengthen my knees. The best I’ve ever managed to build up to without pain is to run approximately 3 miles. I have never been able to get better than that. So I’ve done a few 5Ks and felt pretty good about them. I’ve never been interested in running to win a race. I’ve never cared that I’m a slow runner. I just have this thing with proving my own strength to myself. And I really, REALLY hate it when I feel like I can’t do something. That’s motivation enough to prove that I CAN. And dammit, I decided a few 5Ks wasn’t enough. I knew I would never be able to run a full marathon. But a half marathon? That, I thought might be possible. Perhaps I could train for that.

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So yesterday I went running for the first time in a couple of months (mind you, I exercise nearly 7 days a week, so this was not some crazy idea to exercise after being sedentary for months — I just hadn’t run. I live in Vegas. The summer heat is freaking unbearable. I wasn’t going to risk heat stroke to get in a good run.) And in less than a mile, with my heartbeat in a good range and me feeling pretty good about my fitness level, I felt that familiar twinge in my right knee (it’s always my right knee first). “You have got to be kidding me!” I thought. So I stopped for a moment, did a few stretches, walked. And then I attempted to run again. It got worse. I continued on a fairly sad 5 mile run/walk until I made it back to my house, somewhat disheartened.

Sadly, I think I’m at a point where I need to admit — I can’t. I simply can’t keep running. And I sort of need to stop before these luckily ‘temporary’ pains turn into something more permanent. And this makes me want to throw a book at someone. Perhaps I’ll throw a book at one of those runner friends of mine that like to tell me it’s mind over matter, I just have to keep pushing. But mostly I just want to scream. Because, dammit, I’m Heather Murphy, and Heather Murphy does not quit. And a little pain doesn’t get in her dam way.

But here’s what I’m realizing. This isn’t quitting. This is taking care of myself. There isn’t one other physical activity that brings me this type of pain. Nothing else bothers my knees in this way. My knees don’t hurt when I do plyometrics. When I hike. When I walk for miles on end. When I do Zumba. Or take ballet. Or kickbox. They only hurt when I run.

So why exactly is it so hard for me to just stop running and focus on all these other awesome activities that I love to do? I’m stubborn I guess. I don’t like to fail. I really hate to admit defeat. Ah, the upsides of a Type A personality.

So I’m putting it out there: I’m no longer a runner.

I am, however, a dam good kickboxer. I’m decent at getting out there and having fun at a 5K. And I just signed up for hula, so perhaps I’ll be a good hula dancer too…

Posted in Ramblings and Rants Tagged |