Travel to Texas – Part 1

Recently I considered reactivating my defunct travel blog but bah, I don’t have the energy to keep up here, much less in 2 spots. I figure that the reason I was thinking about it was reuniting with my Scotland travel buddy Melissa, who recently got married in Texas. By the time I started adding all the pictures I needed a couple of posts so this is the first leg of the trip: Texas. Warning: there will be sweat.

I flew into Dallas late on a Friday, picking up my rental car and checking in for 2 nights. Since my body was still on California time I had a late dinner at Torchy’s Tacos: I picked the Republican and the Democrat and both were tasty (unlike real politicians):

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Despite the time difference I was up early and headed out to the Dallas Arboretum and spent a couple hours walking around with my camera.

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Melissa mentioned it was one of her favorite places in Dallas so I knew I’d have to see why.

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Hard to argue with that.

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The best, very random part, was that Saturdays in August were a steal with $5 parking and $1 to get in because who goes outdoors in Texas in August anyways?

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Since the wedding wasn’t until the afternoon I had a little time to get ready before heading out. Like a good guest I didn’t take pictures during the ceremony but it was hard to hear Melissa at times and I resisted the urge to yell “LOUDER, CLEARER” during the vows like we used to do to each other during debate drills.

The reception was at the Chase building downtown in the Sky Lounge and it was beautiful.

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It was awesome to catch up with my college friend Kirsten and her husband Hays over dinner:

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And then dance with Melissa and her new husband Scott:

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After dinner and dancing there was cake but also popsicles because this wasn’t a fussy wedding. In fact, we debated in the elevator what made it down to earth. The mac and cheese, said one guest, no, the onion rings with the veggies argued another. It might have been the popsicles or the confetti canon that exploded in the lobby when 50 people threw bundles of confetti on the departing couple.

Sunday morning I was up and out of town early, heading south to Austin. I had a meeting lined up with a Conquer client at the Whole Foods flagship store and their parking garage was the most technologically advanced thing I’d seen in a long time. Mary Ann and I worked on her funnel and business and had a great time!

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In Austin, I chose to stay in a cute little camp trailer just for shits and giggles. Though the bathroom was tiny (smaller than an airplane’s) it had all the necessities.

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I forgot to coat myself in a couple layers of OFF! so I got eaten by mosquitos and spent the rest of the trip scratching my poor legs. Sunday night I met up with my friend Vasavi for dinner and talking:

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The next day (Monday) I was up early for a client meeting with my long-term client Maya (2 years and first time meeting!):

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By this time my hair was saying “NO MORE HUMIDITY” but alas, there was little I could do to control the weather. I headed to a coffee shop to work for a bit and then met up with my awesome friend Kendra:

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So all in all Austin was wonderful and weird and full of great people and I must go back. Monday night I was on the road again and made it to the eastern side of the state before I stopped for the night.

Not much to see since I took the backroads to avoid Houston traffic but there was a fantastic double rainbow that I had to pull off the freeway to snap:

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Next up: NOLA

 

My newest project

It’s been well over a year of planning but finally, finally I got out the power tools and got to work on my most ambitious goal yet!

I started by having the electrician come and move an outlet + add another one high up on the wall. He also took the switch for the garage light and moved it to the garage wall. Here we are cutting holes in the wall:

 

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And all done:

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I picked up 2x4s at Home Depot and began cutting them to form the base:

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As you can see it’s not just a box, there’s a cross support that’s 12″ from the wall (intentionally).

Then I created an identical box and measured vertical supports.

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Here it is all screwed together using kreg jig holes:

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If I were just building a bench this is where I would finish but my bench/banquette will also have a back and top. Here it is with the top attached:

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With the frame done I’ll need something to cover it up – I decided on 1/2″ MDF for the sides, front and back, 1/2″ plywood for the seat and a 1″x12′ board for the top. With the exception of the top everything would get painted white.

I took the board outside and first hit it with a wood conditioner, then 2 coats of Jacobean, and finally 2 coats of Poly.

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Now it was time to cut the MDF which came in a sheet 4’x8′ and was a BEAR to maneuver and cut. I mean, cutting it with my jigsaw was easy enough but stabilizing it was a pain.

I started by adding the front:

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Then the side:

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And then sidetracked to work on the bench seat. I wanted the bench to lift up for storage so I cut the Plywood to fit around the supports:

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Then a cut where the bench seat would hinge – making sure I had enough clearance for the MDF for the back.

 

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Before attaching the bench I attached a piece of trim on 3 edges to make it easier to paint. The trim was a little bigger than the plywood so once it was ironed on I trimmed off the excess with an exacto knife. Gave everything a quick sand and then it was ready to install.

I primed the bench seat on both sides and then attached a 30″ long piano hinge on both seats:

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With the top in place I was able to trim the pieces for the back and the final piece on the side. It got nailed in and then caulked around the edges before a coat of primer.

Finally, I needed to cover the gap in the back pieces – due to a messed up cut on the first piece of MDF I intended for this to be one piece but hey, it’s 2! This 1″ piece of white trim got a layer of liquid nails on the back and then was taped and clamped into place.

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Finally, the top piece was attached with a couple of 1-1/2″ nails.

So… all done, right?

Not yet, to finish it off and look seamless throughout the living room I added baseboards around the bottom and the everything got a nice coat of white glossy paint. Here you can see the primer coat on the left, first coat of white on the right.

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It was still pretty streaky so the last coat went on with a foam roller to smooth things out. Here we are with the table and freestanding bench:

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and after the final touch ups:

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It’s hard to tell but there’s actually a 3″ foam piece on the bench right now which I’ll be trimming down and covering in fabric. But even that’s not “done” since I have big plans for the TOP of this bench/banquette built in to execute, just as soon as I’m ready to emotionally survive a living room full of sawdust again.