Posts Categorized: Life

Happy Anniversary to the J. Dall Salon – A Place I Love! (A Shout Out Post)

Happy almost 1 year anniversary to one of my favorite places, the J. Dall Salon on the Katy Freeway, and it’s owner and my stylist, Justin! Justin has been styling my hair for years and years. He’s a great. In fact, I can honestly say I’ve never had a bad cut from this guy. It’s wonderful to sit down in his chair, tell him what I want in my odd, verbal shorthand, sometimes with strange visual aids like this –

Hairspiration

and, with no judgment from Justin at all, end up with something totally normal and great looking like this.

Jane, only better

Yesterday I said I wasn’t a girly-girl and that’s true, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like to look as good as it’s humanly possible for me to look. Justin and the team at the J. Dall Salon help make that happen, which is no small feat. This is an upscale salon with a friendly, welcoming atmosphere, something that’s really important to me.

If you’re in the Houston area,  you should check them out. This time you can say Clare sent you. They might even know who you’re talking about!

J. Dall Salon, 7951 Katy Freeway, Suite F, Houston, Texas 77024

713.316.9555

https://www.facebook.com/jdallhairsalon

By now you know I like to support small, local businesses by giving a shout out to places I love. Justin didn’t ask me to write this post and I’m not fortunate enough to be a sell-out, YET! All opinions offered here are unsolicited and genuine.

Don’t forget to subscribe so you won’t miss more places I love! If I love something, it has to be good because I’m one picky…

 

 

Playing Dress Up

I’m not what you, or probably anyone else for that matter, would call a girly-girl. It’s not because I don’t like the idea of wearing pretty clothes, having my hair and make-up fixed, and feeling feminine. I like that idea a lot, actually. It’s just when I do get all dressed up, I don’t feel right. Maybe I’m doing it wrong, but, when I get dressed up, I feel like the picture below. No, that’s not real make-up. I stopped wearing blue eye shadow last year.

If I ever win the lottery, I’ll pay someone to pick out all of my clothes and tell me what to wear every single day. I’ll also have to pay someone to come to my house and fix my hair and make-up because I’m hopeless at that, too. That’s AFTER I do a lot of charitable, philanthropic Oprah-like stuff first, of course. I just want to put that out there – don’t want you to think I’m shallow or anything.

What can I say? I’m a woman in need of a make-over. Luckily, I work in a casual office. It’s so casual I can wear jeans to work almost every day of the year, which is AWESOME until someone dies or gets married. Then I have to buy clothes. I don’t like buying clothes. Shopping is not my friend.

Me, only betterWhich brings me to the point of today’s post. My friend, Michael, is getting married. I have to buy clothes. Don’t get me wrong. I am super happy for Michael. He waited a long time to find the right woman. Michael is a great guy who deserves a lifetime of happiness. I’m thrilled Ed and I will be there to celebrate the special day with the future Mr. and Mrs. I’m just sorry that day will ABSOLUTELY require Spanx.

So, I’ll spend the next month shopping online for dresses to fit the body I imagine I’ll have on the day of the wedding. Then, about a week before the actual wedding, I’ll buy a dress to fit the body I really have. Hmmm… It all sounds so sad when I put it in writing, but I’ll pull it off in the end. I always do. I can’t be the only woman who does this can I?

[This whole wedding thing is a big deal! We get to go to Atlanta. I haven’t flown since before 9/11, so I plan on getting a few posts out of this baby! Subscribe and stay tuned. I’m probably on some NSA watch list now because I just put 9/11 in my post. Subscribe and see what the NSA is talking about!]

How to Say Happy Birthday Without Sounding Like a Pinterest Board…

The title just about says it all. How do you say a very public HAPPY BIRTHDAY to one of the most important people in your life without sounding like a Hallmark commercial or a Pinterest board full of sappy memes? It’s pretty freaking hard and, as you can probably tell, I don’t do “sweet” very well. This is what I came up with instead.

It’s Ed’s birthday! Help me celebrate this guy!

photo

He’s the man who keeps me laughing, the tom to my foolery, the guy who shares my stupid inside jokes and my bathroom.

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He’s the guy who let’s me do stuff like this and  post it on the internet without too much fuss.

 

 

 

 

He gave me this…

Baby Oliver

 

 

 

 

 

Which, thankfully, became this!

Handsome OliverAnd, most recently, he gave me this!

Ignore the pill bottle in the background. Rupert isn't ready to admit he has a problem.

Ignore the pill bottle in the background. Rupert isn’t ready to admit he has a problem.

 

IMG_0899

 

 

 

 He even buried my cat for me! (That’s a huge deal! I LOVED that cat!)

 

 

 

 

 

 HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE GREAT GUY WHO DID ALL THAT STUFF! YOU’RE THE ONLY GUY I WANT TO GO TO HAPPYLAND WITH! I LOVE YOU!

You probably thought Happyland was code for something naughty, didn't you?

You probably thought Happyland was code for something naughty, didn’t you?

Tailgate Lovin’ = Ego Strokin’

Look what I got from a reader this morning!IMG_2513

This is really exciting for a couple of reasons. First, isn’t it a beauty? It’s a typical theme for truck art, but still nicely executed. The Virgin Mary, bathed in an aura of ethereal, Heavenly light, gazes admiringly down upon this truck as it drives through a tranquil valley. Also, a reader (who isn’t related by blood or law) sent me something in response to a post!

As you may or may not recall, I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Ed and I get a kick out of truck art. It’s one of those things you see a lot of in Houston, but probably don’t pay much attention to until someone points it out! Caitie, reader extraordinaire, noticed this bad baby because of that post and she decided to share it with us! Someone is reading my blog! Thank you, Caitie, for making my day with some tailgate art and a little ego stroking! I’m not sure you knew you were stroking my ego, but my ego appreciates it more than it can say! I think I will continue to blog!

Keep those comments, pictures, emails, communications of any sort coming! I love hearing from you!

If you haven’t LIKED us on Facebook hit the like button in the column on the right. Be sure to SUBSCRIBE to get updates by email! Have a great week!

Deep Dark Secrets

Well, I guess stoner cats are a dime a dozen in the blog-o-verse or maybe my tribute to Little Bit was just too morose for a Tuesday evening. Whatever the reason, yesterday’s post fell flat. Sorry to disappoint. I’ll try to be more titillating today. In fact, I’m thinking about deep dark secrets. We all have at least one. Here’s the deal – I’ll share one of mine and for every one you share with me in the comment section below, I’ll share another one! This could be really fun if you will play along with me! Besides, my mother is going to DIE when she reads this! Don’t worry mom, I’ll start with MY secrets first. I won’t tell any of yours… until later….

1. Movie I’m kind of embarrassed to admit I love AND BEST CHEESY MOVIE OF ALL TIME…. Urban Cowboy – “I gave her the fanger. She gave me the fanger. I don’t know. I guess it’s over.” – Bud

2. My dog has clothes. I never in a million years thought I would be “that” person. It’s a pretty shameful admission. His wardrobe is currently limited to 3 t-shirts: All American Dog, Batman, and his Texans jersey. I will not apologize for the Texans jersey. He’s so darn cute in it!

My Cat’s a Stoner and It’s Probably My Fault

If you don’t know us personally; if you just look at the pictures on Facebook and Instagram; if you just read the stories I’ve written on Begin in the Middle; you might think Rupert is our first and only pet. Rupert is, in fact, NUMBER TWO PET in this house, although he will never admit it. As much as I love my stupid Chihuahua, I am, in my heart of hearts, a crazy cat lady – always have been and always will be.

Meet my first love, Little Bit, whose name was not ironic once upon a time. This is the smartest, funniest, most loving cat I’ve ever known. No lie. No exaggeration. Truth.

Exhibit A

Bit and Her Pot of Nip

It occurred to me today that Rupert gets an awful lot of attention in real life and just about everywhere else. He’s cute and his antics are funny and all, but Little Bit deserves the spotlight from time to time, too. Rupert’s shtick is still new to us. It’s easy for Bit to get lost in the commotion. She’s old, tired, and would rather sit in the sun with her face in a pot of catnip than supplying me with fodder for my blog, as Rupert so obligingly does.

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Leave Me Alone. I'm 14 yrs old, dammit! I need my catnip!

Leave Me Alone. I’m 14 yrs old, dammit! I need my catnip!

In her prime, Bit was every inch as much a character as Rupert is today. I could have written a hundred stories about her and our now dearly departed cat, Shiner. (Yes. I named a cat after beer – THE BEST BEER EVER!)

Little Bit and Shiner Bock

Little Bit and Shiner Bock

That’s the deal, though, it’s easy to be the center of attention when you’re spunky and cute, when you’re young and peppy. Then crappy old father time marches on and blah, blah, blah…. If there’s a point to this story, other than to let you know I have a stoner kitty I love so much I grow her her own stash…. nah…. I think that’s pretty much the point. I LOVE YOU, BIT!

There’s Someone for Everyone… Even This Guy

Ed and I like going to the neighborhood thrift stores from time to time. Truthfully, the store with the best stuff, which shall remain nameless, is way over-priced. Still, it’s fun to look. Everyone looks for different things when they thrift shop. Ed looks for books. I look for furniture, light fixtures, candle sticks, and glassware. I’m also in search of an elusive Corning Ware bread pan (cornflower blue). I have one and the loaves of bread I bake with it are the most beautiful loaves known to mankind. If I had another one, I’d be a happy, happy girl. While trolling the isles on Saturday, Ed and I had one of those small moments that happen from time to time in a marriage or any long-term relationship. You know the kind I mean. The kind of moment that reinforces your bond, reassuring you that you’ve found “the one.”

Although we typically split up at the thrift store, we happened to wandering together on Saturday. As we neared the jumble of pictures and picture frames sitting on the floor in one corner of the store, Ed and I stopped short. Ed was slightly in front of me, so neither one of us could see what the other was focusing on. We didn’t say anything for a second. Then…

Me: Are we looking at the same thing?

Ed: I hope so.

Me: Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

Ed: I hope so.

Me: I think we should get it.

Ed: ME, TOO! [Both of us burst into fits of giggles lasting a good 5 minutes.]

This is what caught our eye, captured our imaginations and confirmed our mutually shared weirdness and decidedly “off” senses of humor. I present you with Uncle Mortimer, as we’ve chosen to call him. Yes, we bought a portrait of someone’s long-deceased family member. He’s currently occupying a place of honor in our living room. thrift store findsYou should have seen the looks we got from the other customers and the cashier when we were checking out. Everyone wanted to know why we’d buy a photo of a man we didn’t know. It was pretty clear from the looks on their faces they thought we were total freaks, which kind of made buying the thing all that much better!

The fact that we both locked eyes on Uncle Mortimer and knew we had to have him without a word passing between us, well I take that as a sign. There’s someone for everyone. Ed’s my someone and I’m his. We’re different in  A LOT of ways, but we can also let our freak flags fly (and those are some pretty big flags) without fear of judgment from each other… teasing, but no judgment…

There’s even someone for Uncle Mortimer. We’re sending him to live with our friend, William, an artist, who’ll appreciate Mortimer as much we do. The decision to send the portrait to live with William was made before we even got home. William will appreciate the campiness and see the picture as a piece of art.

On a supernatural side note, Rupert barked at the portrait off and on all weekend, sometimes while staring directly at it and sometimes while looking slightly off to one side. I’m not sure if he’s just creeped out by it or if the photo came with the actual Uncle Mortimer as an added bonus. Either way campy turned to creepy really quickly and it’s time for that thing to go!

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever bought at a thrift store? Tell us about it. Better yet, send pictures!

Painting with Clare – THE REVEAL

May I have a drum roll, please?! The moment you’ve all been waiting for is here! You have been waiting for it, haven’t you? Without further ado, I give you Rupert Smiling, my debut artistic effort, effort being the operative word….

Rupert Smiling

Rupert Smiling

Truthfully, this photo doesn’t do the painting justice. It looks much better in person, especially his eyebrows and whiskers. You can even stand close to it and you don’t have to squint. I’m not even saying that tongue in cheek. It’s the truth. Those of you who know me in real life can attest to the fact that I’m not a pat myself on the back kinda girl. So, when I say that I haven’t been this proud of almost anything since I popped a kid out 20 years ago, well, that’s saying something!

Rupert Smiling, as I’ve chosen to call my masterpiece just in case the MFA wants to hang it in their next installation, is a project very much in the spirit of Begin in the Middle. I got a wild hair up my butt and started painting – just jumped right in! That’s what this is all about, jumping into something new, figuring it out as I go along, AND TOTALLY KICKING ASS AT IT!!! Ok. “Kicking ass” might be a little dramatic and maybe an overstatement, but the painting doesn’t suck.

Seriously, though, the final product is much better than I ever hoped it would be. More importantly, I enjoyed doing it. Hiring an artist or going to one of those art places that lets you get all boozed up while you paint would have been cheaper, no doubt. However, now I have enough supplies to paint many, many, many more portraits of Rupert. Unfortunately, my palette of mostly brown limits my choice of subjects, so Rupert it is!

Do you want to paint a portrait of your pet or anything else? Here’s what I learned:

  1. If you’ve never painted before, don’t overestimate your ability to mix colors. Spend a little extra and buy the colors you need. There will be much less cussing and frustration that way.
  2. Acrylics are hard to work with because they dry really quickly, but they’re easy to clean up.
  3. Buy decent brushes. Don’t blow the bank, but don’t buy the super cheapies, either. Otherwise, you’ll be picking brush hairs out of your painting with your good tweezers and a magnifying glass.
  4. Take pictures as your painting progresses. I didn’t realize how much better I was getting at shading until I looked at the gallery below. I’m not saying I’m GOOD at it or anything, only that I did get better as I went along. I wouldn’t have seen that improvement without the pictures.
  5. Don’t over-think what you’re doing. Have fun! That’s the whole point. Be proud of the finished product no matter how it turns out! It’s your work. OWN IT!

If you DO end up painting a masterpiece of your own, email me a photo (clare@begininthemiddle.com). I’ll put it up on the website for your fellow Beginners to admire! Finally, here are the photos I took of the painting as it progressed. Enjoy!

Rupert - the winning photo

Rupert – the winning photo

 

Hard to see, but this is the part where I got the image on the tracing paper.

Hard to see, but this is the part where I got the image on the tracing paper.

Transferring image to canvas

Transferring image to canvas

 

Supplies = The Cost of a Commissioned Portrait

Supplies = The Cost of a Commissioned Portrait

 

Starting with the darks. I saw this on YouTube.

Starting with the darks. I saw this on YouTube.

 

Thought I'd ruined it here. Layering colors like I knew what I was doing...

Thought I’d ruined it here. Layering colors like I knew what I was doing…

 

Shading and overconfidence...

Shading and overconfidence…

 

 

Rupert Smiling

Rupert Smiling

 

Weekend Recap and Tailgate Art

To ease into Monday, I thought I’d start out with a recap on a pretty uneventful weekend. Ed went to a family reunion on Saturday leaving me ALONE and free to clean the house to my freakishly high standards for the first time in months. Sounds like loads of fun, I know, but there’s almost nothing I love better than a clean house! Sad, but true. I have become my mother. I love the earth and the environment and all that stuff, but I also love the smell of a house that’s just been scoured with Comet, Windex (the original Windex, none of that new stuff), good, old-fashioned Vinegar, and Swiffer floor cleaner. (Love my Wet Jet!)  No “green” products at my house. Sorry. Those smells, to me, equal a clean house!

Sneak Peek - Be kind. It's not finished... and may never be!

Sneak Peek – Be kind. It’s not finished… and may never be!

After cleaning, I made ANOTHER trip to Michael’s for more painting supplies. It turns out mixing colors is more difficult than I anticipated. I ended up buying more paint, better brushes, and a Stay-Wet paint palette. I bought a little better quality than the supplies I started with, but I didn’t go overboard by buying the most expensive stuff available. However, it’s official. Commissioning Pablo Picasso, providing, of course he wasn’t dead, would have been less expensive than painting Rupert’s portrait myself. Live and learn. The painting is coming along, but as I mentioned on FB, painting may not be the best hobby for me. I get a little obsessive about certain things and, apparently, painting is one of them. Who knew!? I could jack around with this portrait til the cows come home… and then I’d probably decide to add some cows to the painting… Anyway, here’s a peek at where I am now. I’m going to mess around with the shading and the ears a little more, even though Ed says I should leave it like this. I’ve got so much money invested in paint and supplies, I feel obligated to keep painting. People are going to think a 5 year old lives in our house when they see all the rudimentary animal art hung proudly on our walls.

Tailgate Art

Tailgate Art

Sunday is usually a cooking day at Casa Golemon. On our way to Kroger for supplies, we saw this truck. Ed and I have long been fans of tailgate art. Luckily, we get to see lots of it in our neighborhood. I plan to do a longer post on the glory and wonder of tailgate art in the future, but I just couldn’t resist sharing this with you. As for the cooking… Ed made another batch of hot dog sauce and, with MUCH LESS cinnamon this time, it turned out really well! I baked sourdough bread. The recipe, handed down from my grandmother, says it turns out 3 loaves. I have never had much luck dividing my dough evenly enough for 3 even sized loaves and yesterday was no exception. Still, bread is bread no matter what it looks like.  There’s always next week to try again! There’s a longer post on sourdough starter and bread in the works. Stay tuned. It will be epic.

For the record, I do not get paid for mentioning specific products or businesses. If I like something, chances are I’ll write about it. I write about everything these days. All the opinions expressed in any post are my actual thoughts. Take them or leave them. I add links for your convenience, just in case you’re interested in checking whatever it is I’m discussing out for yourself. If the day ever does come when I’m lucky enough to sell out and plug products for actual money, you’ll know it!

Have a great week. Check back often and, as always, if you like what you’re reading, please share!

Change Is Good

Ed has gone back to work, but because his new employer has a fairly strict social media policy, all I can say is that he is “in grocery store management.” Today, he’s actually working in a building without AC installing shelves, dairy cases, check out stands, and the like, which is CRAZY in July in Houston, but they didn’t ask me. His store opens on August 21st. (Any guesses Houstonians?)

I’m happy Ed’s working again and I know he is, too. He enjoyed having a little time off, but I think having too much time on his hands was getting old. For my part, it was nice to phone in honey-do (OR ELSE) lists from work every day, but, honestly I’m a little OCD. No matter how hard Ed tried, and he did try, he could never do things the way I would do them myself. I can be just a tad bit obsessive about how clean the house is and, well, it’s just not clean enough for me right now. As much as I griped over the last few months about the fact that I didn’t think I should have to do housework while Ed was home all day, I’m actually looking forward to getting my freaky, super-clean on again. Look out dust bunnies. I’m coming for you!

Rupert enjoying quality time with his litter-mate.

Rupert enjoying quality time with his litter-mate.

Ed going back to work means a big change for Rupert. He hasn’t ever had to stay home alone all day. Ed’s always been there with him. Rupert doesn’t like to be alone, but he’s going to have to get used to it. Ru doesn’t sleep in his kennel. He sleeps under the covers in our bed. Thankfully, he’s started to use the kennel as a “safe zone,” especially when he’s home alone. It’s where he hides his bones, toys, and other “found” treasures, like underwear, socks, shoes, t-shirts, and gross stuff he pulls out of the toilet trash can. The number of personal items in Rupert’s kennel belonging to either Ed or me corresponds directly to how long he’s been left alone. It turns out Rupert is a hoarder, not one of those messy, doesn’t know what he has hoarders, but one of the organized, don’t throw that paperclip from 1962 away or I WILL KNOW IT’S GONE, hoarders. Rupert, quirky little thing that he is, is very particular about the order and arrangement of his belongings.  In a nightly ritual, he pulls his blankets and loot out of the kennel and then spends a considerable amount of time rearranging everything in some special order known only to him. A word of caution: Don’t jack with Rupert’s carefully curated collection! Once it’s in the kennel, it’s his! I nearly lost a finger last night attempting to retrieve a pair of crotchless panties. (For the record, until yesterday, I did not own crotchless panties.)

Change is almost always difficult, even good change. I definitely consider both Ed and I being employed a good change. Before you know it, Ed will be used to his new job. Rupert will be used to staying alone a whole lot more and I will be used to wearing crotchless panties.