Sunday, December 29, 2013

ManCave Update: Closet...

Yesterday I spent the day putting up the walls for the little closet that will house a) junk, b) A/V equipment, and c) other stuff.

The opening on the left side is where we will have shelves that hold the A/V components.  I got this idea from my friend, the Internet.  The idea is to have the shelves inside the closet, the front of the components visible to the room where the remote will work and you can put in DVD's and that sort of thing.
 An example of that is like this picture found on AVS Forum.  The real trick will be cutting the faceplate around each piece of equipment, but I think we'll be alright.  Some of the versions I saw of this style were done with thin wood, others with Plexiglas painted black and even other high end versions done with metal.  I love that idea, but I can just see myself trying to cut some metal and losing a finger in the process.
Anyway, the opening in the middle is obviously for the closet door and the opening on the right will be for an in wall shelf where I can display old shot glasses from my travels, beer mugs and coffee mugs from my military career.
Now that the framing is complete, I can finish the electrical wiring, get the speaker wires run and we can get going with the rest of the project. 

More as it comes...

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Several Items of Interest: Food, Furniture, ManCave, Guns...

Last week we were coming out of La Pasidita and we saw a friend we met at our old favorite taco place, La Palmera, and she told us that the original owners had reopened under a new name, Mi Roca.  Everyone, it is once again safe to eat breakfast in Lytle!

The demise of La Palmera was a sad story; a family tragedy which resulted in the selling of the property, new owners and several attempts at multiple different taco operations, but nothing that could meet our sensitive taste buds (we don't like crap).  Oh, sure, we've gotten by in Natalia with La Pasidita (which is good), but I've craved the chorizo and egg and the delicious tortillas so close to what Eva makes at home.

Today, we stopped in and I ordered my standard trifecta.
 Carne guisada with cheese.  Close, very close.
Country and egg.  Very much on target.  In fact, outstanding.
Chorizo and egg.  Boom!  I am not a religious man, but sweet mother of spicy sausage, this is the one!    I simply can't explain, nor can my crappy picture depict just how delicious this taco is.  You must go for yourself and have one. 

And I hope you will.  The family at Mi Roca is rebuilding by word of mouth and if you have ever taken my tip for a good place to eat, stop into this hole-in-the-wall in Lytle and give them a shot. By the way, the homemade green salsa is simply the best.
Speaking of good vittles...  We had dinner last week at our favorite place in Devine, Rocky's Roadside Grill.  My bacon Cheeseburger was outstanding, as always.  Eva had the Chicken Parmesan and loved it.  Don't wanna sound like a broken record, but there are good eats out here if you just know where to go.  We always like going to Rocky's but don't seem to make it often enough.  Need to work on that.

And speaking of Devine... Yesterday we went to make a donation at the thrift shop and on the way back through town we stopped into Christian's, a furniture store that we've passed by dozens of times.  They have a pretty funny billboard on I-35 touting their large warehouse saying, "Size really does matter".  The look on the girl's face says it all. Anyway, we ended up spending over an hour in there just walking around and looking.  We also talked to a guy, I presume to be one of the owners, about UTSA football and the difference in ticket prices at our games and Texas A&M games!  We did buy a new mattress cover for our bed and will probably go back again soon.  I love the idea of shopping local (the tri-city area, you know), but we often pass by these places and don't realize how good they are.

I feel like I've just rolled off a bunch of advertisements - breakfast, dinner, furniture; check. 

With a few days off from work (which I'll regret on Monday) I've had some time to do a little work on the man cave.  I've done as much wiring as I could but need to frame out our little closet before I can finish things up.
We decided on going out just under two and a half feet which will give us enough room to store some items and house the audio/video components.  I was looking on the Internet and found ideas for built in shelves to put the stereo and DVD player, etc., and so we decided to do it.  Anyway, I have the boards all measured, cut and ready to to put up the closet wall.  I need to get a pre-hung door and some a few more 2X4's, so there will be a trip to the Habitat for Humanity store today, and probably Lowe's.

Oh, I didn't mention Eva's Christmas guns...
 I bought her a Marlin 795 which is a nice little .22 great for target practice.  Yes, nothing but class in our family.  Chanel No. 5 and a box of 22LR.
We ended up buying a Beretta handgun as well.  Knowing that I had already bought the rifle, it was a no-brainer to get a pistol that fires the same 22LR.  She's just pretending in this picture; no little squirrels or cats were harmed.  Now we just need to get to the range.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

My Daily Deer...

We have the camera on a tree facing the back fence just to see what sort of activity goes on out there.  I love it when we get some daytime shots of the little ones.
Que cute!
And they are busy at night there too.  Sometimes, you have to wonder why the deer stay on the other side of the fence.
Well, they don't!
Caught in the act!  We've been pretty lucky so far.  None of the plants we have seem to interest the deer.
Or it could be the Little Kitty is on patrol and keeping them honest.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Update: Garage, Weather, Guns...

I had been hoping to jump on and make a few posts during this month and provide some pictures and updates on our current project - the Man Cave/Home Theater, but the truth is, aside from purchasing several needed items, I haven't even gotten started on the project.  Today, maybe today, I'll start doing some much needed electrical wiring to convert the garage from a place for storage into a place where we can hang out, watch movies, play darts, and enjoy a cool beverage on a hot day.

Thanks to the Internet and E-Bay, I did buy a projector mount and a 40 foot HDMI cable that will allow us to have the projector on the ceiling and the video source (DirecTV, DVD, BluRay, etc) in a cabinet that can be easily addressed via a remote.   Just as a side note:  If you need an HDMI cable, buying one from BestBuy or even WalMart is way too expensive.  I think we paid $30 once for a 6 foot HDMI cable.  That is outrageous.  My 40 foot cable on E-Bay, brand new and warrantied was $18.00.  You can get a 6 foot HDMI for $3.00 vs $20 or $30 at some of these stores.  Ridiculous.

Eva bought a nice Home Theater receiver from that will allow us to connect all the sources (DirecTV, DVD, BluRay, etc) into it for sound and control.  I want to say that was maybe $200 which was an impressive savings over similar models at BestBuy.  Friends of ours from the old neighborhood had a bunch of left over speakers from when they had a Home Theater professional installed.  These are TruAudio speakers still in the box.  I ended up with more than I may need, but the price was very, very right.  I still need to purchase one (or maybe two) powered sub-woofers so I'm searching the Internet daily.

I feel like once I get the electrical work done and run the speaker wires, things will move fairly quickly. We did decide to build a closet along one side of the room.  I have a bunch of old records that we'd prefer to keep in there rather than in the shed.  Unless I can find someone eager to purchase a collection of 45's from the late 70's to early 90's.  Eva still wants to buy a juke box, but the truth is, with the ability to connect an iPod to our stereo, why bother?

In other news, the cold weather went away and we had to turn on our air conditioner.  Ah, December in Texas.  Currently, we are experiencing a really nice, steady rain that makes my yard look slightly greener than the dead brown I'm used to.  On the downside, we had a huge tornado like gust of wind that picked up one of the garbage cans and tossed it and the trash in it across the yard.  Thankfully, it was fairly empty to start with.

In even other news, I had been talking to a few guys at work regarding handguns.  We've had our Judge and still haven't made it out to the range.  I was seriously thinking that I would take it in to one of the local gun shops and see if I could trade it in for something a little more realistic for target shooting.  We've thought about a Glock, a 9MM and even just a fancy .22, but until we actually go to a gun shop and see what we can get for a brand new, in the box, never fired Judge, who knows?

Christmas is approaching.  Something tells me I need to get to CVS or Walgreens so I can find something fancy for Eva!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Nothing But Trees...

The property to the north of us is a 2 1/2 acre lot owned by some folks from Mexico.  In the three years (yes, it has been three years) that we've lived out here, the lot had not been cleared once.  I usually don;t care about these things - not my property, not my concern - but we did have a few issues with their trees falling onto our fence and such.  Eva kept asking me about when the association was going to do something, and since I am a member of the board, you'd think I'd have some extra pull or something.  I don't. 

Anyway, our property owner's association does send out reminder letters to people to make sure they know they need to keep the properties safe since we are constantly in danger of fire.  I guess this year, the owners got that letter.  Our friend Joel Hernandez came out with a crew and commenced the clearing process.  He told us that the owners have no intention of building any time soon, the property is just an investment.  Yay!
This was the view out my office window into the lot next door.  I don't know which is worse, their jungle or my out of control lumber pile.
Anyway, it only took a few days and Joel's team had the place whipped into shape.  The problem is, now we feel completely exposed!  Suddenly, Eva is talking about the need to extend the privacy fence, at least far enough to hide our hot tub from people who drive down the street.  I guess sometimes you may not like what you get when you ask for it.
As I was out taking pictures of the lot next door, it did occur to me that something fascinating was happening on our own property.  Our trees have color!  We are so used to go from green to dead that seeing a little yellow is pretty nice.

It got as low as about 28 degrees on early Saturday morning, but soon got up to 38.  My sister Susan in Minnesota mocked my shivering saying that they were only 40 degrees cooler than us.  I stick with our dysfunctional weather that goes from 82 one day to 32 the next, as long as we can keep it closer to 82 at all times.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Road Trip: UTSA at UNT...

This certainly isn't timely - that's for sure.  Regardless, last weekend, my son and I took a road trip up to the friendly town of Denton so we could catch a really good football game in some really cold (cold to us) weather.
We left Natalia at about 5AM on Saturday and aside from a little bit of rain along the way, traffic was smooth and by about to 1030AM we were arriving in the visitors area of Apogee Stadium.  The stadium is at the intersection of I-35W and I-35E just north of Ft Worth.
My son bought us some tickets to the Alumni associate BBQ which happened to be set-up in a tent with two of those big propane heaters.  That was helpful, but still, it was chilly.  Catering by Dickie's.  Not bad at all, but it was funny that our potato salad was nearly frozen, and not by design.
After eating, we headed back out to the parking lot to join forces with the crowd of UTSA tailgaters who were prepping themselves for the game.  I don't think a lot of people grilled, but there was plenty of revelry and good cheer.   A family who sits in the row in front of us at the AlamoDome was there and they had invited us to hang out with them.  Nice folks.

As a side note, we walked across the street to the Exxon station to grab some beer so we wouldn't feel like freeloaders.  I grabbed a 12-pack of Dos XX's (XX, technically) and when the guy rang it up, it was $19.67.  I ended up grabbing some Miller Lite.  When we walked back to the tailgaters, I told my son that I felt like a cheapskate since a beer at the AlamoDome is $7.50 and here I was complaining about $20 for a 12-pack.  And considering we only drank a few of those beers, I probably did pay $7.50 each.  But you just know that any other day of the week, they are charging at least $5 less. 
Back at the party we saw some of the usual people.  This is me with the orange guy. 
Also, when the UTSA Athletic Director, Lynn Hickey came out to say howdy to the UTSA contingent, the crowd went wild.  This guy posing with her, Samir I think his name is, is always doing the UTSA chant at the home games.  He brought a big megaphone and even got Ms. Hickey to yell through it.  Good times.
As game time approached, we headed across the nice walkway built over I-35E. 

The new Apogee stadium is a beautiful facility, but as my son pointed out, it would be a great high school stadium.  Ouch!  It's true. 
I will say that the place is very nice and the bathrooms are first class.  Two problems though: No beer and no Doc Popcorn.
I must tell you that going in, we just assumed that we would lose and I think everyone hoped it would just be a close game.  UNT had been undefeated at home.  In the end, it was an incredibly exciting game and UTSA led the entire way.  Such a good time, in spite of the cold, cold temps.

When it was over, I appreciated the friendly demeanor of the losing home team.  One guy stopped me and said we played a great game.  I think I caught him off guard when I high-fived him, so he cheerfully responded that they couldn't wait for next year to kick our ass!
After the game, we checked into our hotel in Denton, then headed out to a place called the Mellow Mushroom.  There was quite a wait (about 3o minutes or so) but the pizza was good.  Nothing to write a blog about.
What I did like was their use of bottle caps to decorate.
We got an early start back to San Antonio, and and after a short stop in the town of West for kolaches and to say howdy to our friend JackieSue (You know her as YellowDog Granny), we were back home in time for a big lunch of carne guisada that Eva had made for us. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

We made the USAA Tribute!

On Wednesday evening, USAA had a tribute to veterans during the San Antonio Spurs game and we were lucky enough to have one of our pictures included (at 00:22).  Our family friend and Super Spurs Fan, Celeste was also featured as the AF officer wearing the Tony Parker jersey under her service dress uniform. (1:34).

Thanks USAA and San Antonio Spurs for including us.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

So, I'm Old...

This last week I hit the big 5-0.  My mom came out for a surprise visit to celebrate and during the week, we had a good time.  I even took a few days off from work which gave us several opportunities to eat out. 

Turning fifty has been an interesting thing.  It isn't some number that I feared or even a milestone that made me think, I've definitely lived more years than I have years left, in fact, I suspect I could have said that at 40.  My oldest brother, Dennis called and said something along the lines of, Holy Shit! If you're 50, that makes me really old!  I said, Imagine how Mom feels
Waiting for Eufflexia injections.
Fifty has brought on some issues like my really jacked up knees, but I'm sure that is less age related than just being out of shape.  A lot of people decide at age 50 (or 60) that they want to run a marathon.  Enjoy yourself; I won't be doing that. 

The interesting thing about turning 50 is that somehow or another, they find you.  And I don't mean Big Brother.
It was like clockwork - AARP knew exactly when I was born and wants to get me on their rolls as soon as possible.  Any thoughts?  Is it worth the effort?
This is my daughter, Roxanne, reading a list of things about me.  She's a good sport. 
And this is what it looks like when I hold squirmy little kids waiting for cake. Isabella on my right, and Mya The Bee, gesticulating wildly on my left.

In different news...
Eva found my deer camera.
We saw this interesting scene in the small town of Devine.  Apparently, you don't have to go to Earl Schrieb's to get a discount paint job on your truck, you can just go by this little shop. Yes, that's a can of spray paint on a windy day.  Good luck.

The planning for our garage project has commenced in earnest.  The intent is to build sort of a media room / man cave / hang out area so we can watch movies and such on the projector we bought for outdoor movies.  While it has been fun the few times we've watched movies on the patio drive-in style, the reality is, in the summer it is too hot and in the winter, too windy.  The answer, waste a bunch of money on a different place to watch TV besides the living room. 
 In fairness, Eva's idea was to just empty the garage, pull up some lawn chairs and watch movies.  Total cost: The price of a shed.  But let's be honest; that just won't do. So, over the next however long it takes, this will be an ongoing project.

We walked around Home Depot for a little while on Friday to look at lighting.  I had this idea that I wanted to install the recessed can lights but upon further inspection, Eva has an interest in this sort of thing. 
 We could put up 2 of these on either side of the room and aim the spotlights as needed.  We'll see.  The other thing was, we know we want to build a bar so we started doing Google image searches for ideas.  And then, we saw bar designs with built in Kegerators.  Holy crap, we haven't even started and the budget is already busted.  There was an ad on Craig's List for a guy selling a bar, some signs and a Kegerator all for $300.  That would be a serious deal.  But he never e-mailed me back.  I'll keep looking because we really are too far away from even thinking about furnishings.  We haven't even put up sheet rock or decided on flooring.

What we do know is that we do want to build a riser so we can have two rows of seating.  We also know that we want a bar with stools and we want to use a lot of the old signs and license plates we have to help decorate.  We also plan to finally have some shelves or displays for the coffee mugs, shot glasses and odds & ends I've collected over the years when I traveled for work.  As we continue to plan it out, I'll be searching the Internet for good ideas and good deals.

And maybe when I'm 51, we'll be finished.