Project Fail – Outdoor Planter

We all know life isn’t one glorious project after the next with beautiful mudrooms and fish-mouth selfies. In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m sharing my fails with you just as proudly as I share my successes. So here’s what not to do:

As much as I love to just throw something together, it doesn’t always work out. Imagine that! A few months ago I was on a re-use kick. I felt like someone marketing a going out of business sale, but instead of shouting “everything must go!” it was “everything must be repurposed!” Let me tell you how that went.

What used to be shelves in the garden shed (before the hot water heater was relocated there) became an outdoor planter. In about 15 minutes. You can see where this is going, right?

Here’s the breakdown:

What was once this…
…quickly became this
I filled it with dirt…
…and waited for Spring

But this happened [insert frowny face]
Apparently the weight of the dirt, probably more so when it was raining, was too much for the nails driven straight into the ends. I think all this needs are some brackets on the corners and I’ll be good, right? Well, that and some gorgeous plants. Plants that are hearty and can hold up to my brown thumb. At least that’s the plan. Stay tuned!


TWD and I Broke Up – But We’re Back Together!

Raleigh Zombie Walk
(photo courtesy Ashley Elliott)

We all knew Season 7 of The Walking Dead was going to begin in an awful way. You knew it and I knew it. Yet, I was shocked at the brutality, the visual trauma (even though I covered my eyes), and the emotional damage. Sweet Glenn was…so sweet. Abraham was…Abraham. It was equally gut-wrenching to see, to feel how Rick was broken, defenseless, and shattered to a shell of his former self. Nothing in the 6 years leading up to that opener prepared me. After S7, Ep1, I was devastated, and I mourned the loss of my beloved characters for weeks, and I was angry.

I know what you’re thinking: the show is staying true to the graphic novel. I respond with: then why does Daryl Dixon even exist? See?

If the opening episode was not horrific enough, the next three episodes (with the exception of Ep2) were nothing more than a nightmarish composition of my TWD family being tortured with no end in sight. That grew old quickly, and I packed my AMC bag and high-tailed it out of Alexandria. I was done with The Walking Dead. No regrets.

Negan, who I thought was going to be a complex force to be reckoned with, turned out to be a one-dimensional, vile bully. Even the Governor was tolerable and somewhat entertaining in that we got a glimpse of what drove him to his madness (remember his walker daughter he kept on a leash?). Not so with Negan. He’s vicious without cause, end of story. Each line he delivers sounds the same as the one prior and the one next. I was so disenchanted with the character, that I found myself bored with Jeffrey Dean Morgan, the actor. Gasp! That’s when I decided this relationship had crossed the line from dysfunctional to unhealthy and it was time to part ways.

For the remainder of the first half of the season, I wasn’t the least interested in what was happening. Didn’t peek on Sunday night, didn’t check online. I didn’t even ask my Dead friends. But on the eve of the midseason premiere, I was strongly urged to give TWD another chance, to watch Ep8 and move on.

So I took the advice, and there I was last night glued to the television, hope rising once again. Thank you, Robert Kirkman. All is forgiven (mostly–you’ll have to explain yourself for Glenn for the rest of your life).

Because I have not read the comic books, I have no idea what’s coming and I like that. So for those who have read and are in the know, if my optimism is in vain, leave it be. Let me enjoy my TWD family just a little longer. Let me pretend Jeffrey Dean Morgan is an actual human being in a Negan suit and that he’ll be dealt with harshly. TWD style.

Rise Up!

New Year – New Name (and a logo, too!)

I’ve been tossing around the idea of a new name for a while. I love Chubs Lived Here because it holds meaning for me (my Sweet Baby Chubs kitty I adored for 17 years), but it’s not particularly meaningful or catchy to anyone else, especially potential new readers. So after four years, it’s time for a change.

The search for the perfect name has been playing out in my head for over a year. I have lists of names, most of which are already taken. One of my favorites is Miss Imperfection, but alas, it belongs to someone else. Sigh.

I thought up Half Fast and Classy about a month ago and it felt right from the moment I said it. My first instinct is to say “sadly, it’s so me!” However, I’m proud of my flaws and improvisational ways. Letting go of perfectionism took decades, and I’m finally okay with it. Go, Me! There’s no “sadly” about this. I am proud to be Half Fast and Classy. If you don’t get it, say it quickly. There you go!

Styling life and home on a shoestring budget

A big shout out to Billy Parker at ComiXed for the logo that captures me and Miss Grace perfectly. Well, more than perfectly – Logo Me is way taller than Real Me. Thank you, Billy! One day I’ll figure out how to integrate the logo into my site. Minor detail.

What I write isn’t going to change, because what you see is truly who I am and the projects are real. I still have an aversion to reading directions, but life doesn’t come with an instruction booklet, does it? It’s a new name; same strong, caring, intelligent, and sometimes dippy Lady Boss winging it and getting it done…with a dash of class!


It’s Vote Day!

I voted. The dogs are walked and fed, the lounge wear has been donned, and an ice cold beer is not far from my right hand. I don’t know if this libation will be in celebration or to drown my sorrows, but I’m ready, America. As ready as one can be for this vote. After a year (or what seems like a decade) of one of the most brutal election seasons I’ve ever witnessed, the day has finally arrived. I have this electric, excited-yet-nervous-as-hell feeling reminiscent of the eve of Y2K. Remember that? We would either be wailing Prince’s 1999 until our voices gave out or we would exist as long as a society could on D batteries.

I Voted! But that's not my hand...
I Voted! But that’s not my hand…

Our great country is more polarized than ever (according to my pseudo research…my Facebook feed), and no matter who you are, no matter who your candidate, Americans are collectively holding their breath this evening. Only half of us will exhale when the race is called.

I wore my pantsuit today, and given how poorly it fits, I hope it was not in vain. However, as vocal as I’ve been about who I do not want in the White House, it’s time to put on my big girl pants (preferably a more flattering pair) and agree to carry on no matter who becomes our next POTUS. Each of us wants our candidate to win. We all have our reasons why we believe ours is the only candidate who should take the helm of this nation. But what we cannot do, no matter what side you’re on, is sabotage any chance of our next president guiding us to security, prosperity, and inclusiveness. Each and every one of us needs to take the high road and come back together as a community. What’s left if we don’t?

So let’s do this, people. Watch the results tonight in revelry or despair, but tomorrow morning, we need to get back to being Americans. Remember that talk of a kinder, gentler nation? Let’s do that, because Canada won’t have us.


Book Review – Wars of the Roses: Bloodline by Conn Iggulden

A king is being held in the tower, another claims the throne, and a trusted life-long family confidant feels forsaken. Set amidst the bloodiest battle fought on English soil–the Battle of Towton, Conn Iggulden’s novel, Wars of the Roses: Bloodline, graphically captures not only the barbarous battle that claimed 28,000 lives, but also the contrast of honor versus indignity, trust versus betrayal, and love versus hate.

Wars of the Roses: Bloodline
Wars of the Roses: Bloodline

I jumped into this series with book #3, Bloodline, and was worried I would be lost. It took a few chapters to get the characters sorted, and then I truly enjoyed this book. I am a fan of historical fiction, and Bloodline was excellent.

The question of any character being fictional never crossed my mind because each was written extraordinarily well. Iggulden also painted the landscape and lifestyle so that I felt I was watching a movie in my mind. He skillfully conveyed the harshness and brutality of the time.

I felt a strong sense of what motivated the protagonists, why they felt threatened, and what was at stake for each. This narrative of the Lancasters, Yorks and Nevilles is fascinating, not only because of its historical value, but also because this is a page turner. This has become one of my favorite historical fiction pieces, and I can’t wait to read books #1 and #2!

My good friend Julie asked me to review this book as a guest blogger on her site, My Book Retreat. If you enjoyed this review, trust me–you’ll love her reviews! Check out My Book Retreat the next time you’re looking for something to read.

And, as always, if you’d like to purchase this book from, consider using my link here. Same price if you purchase directly through Amazon, except I get a few cents when you use my link. Four stars for Wars of the Roses: Bloodline by Conn Iggulden!


Closet Conversion

When is a closet not a closet? When it doesn’t serve it’s purpose. Example: the coat closet in the foyer of my cottage. Take a look at the state of this sad little stall just a few months ago.

The entryway closet had four shelves and nowhere to hang coats
The entryway closet had four shelves and nowhere to hang coats. It was barely sufficient for Grace’s coat and treat bag.

In all my haste to get moving on this project (and then leave it sit for a month because that’s how I do) I pulled out two shelves before I thought to take the before photos and I could not get them back in! So use your imagination and pretend there are four shelves in the photo above.

Does this make any sense? To anyone? The only closet at any entrance to my home does not accommodate coats. I’m pretty sure the previous owner would have had a couple of coats. Where did she keep them? On the shelves? No M’am. There is a coat closet in the far corner of the master bath. TRUE STORY!

I know. What the what? Perhaps a peacoat was needed in the shower? I cannot wrap my mind around it, but there is so much to share about the Mad Master Bath, all for another post.

I set out to make things right with my home and give it a proper entryway closet. I removed the shelves and the metal shelf brackets, which left major holes in the wall. I literally tore off the stick-on white board, which left major damage to the wall. I removed the over-the-door hook apparatus, which thankfully did not leave any damage.

I spackled and sanded and spackled and sanded. Then I spackled and sanded. This is not my forte because there are still visible imperfections, but it’s a closet. There will be coats hanging in it and they work wonderfully as camouflage!

After I painted everything white, caulking was next for that nicely finished look
I painted the walls, shelf, and wood white for a clean, unified look.
White caulk gives it a nicely finished look
White caulk gives it a nicely finished look.
Add a dowel...
Add a dowel…
...and voila! It's a coat closet!
…and voila! It’s a coat closet!

At long last, the cottage has a proper entryway closet and there are coats no more in the Mad Master Bath. I’m sleeping a bit better now.


Bye Bye Condo, Hello Cottage!

For the sake of sweet Grace, and my knees and hips, I moved from my third floor walk-up to the burbs. The pooch can stretch and frolic, and my [gracefully] aging joints will carry me another day. This is my 24th move, and I am so over it!

As much as I loathe the packing, the physical labor, and the aftermath of moving, I love my new home! We now have more space, a first-floor master (read: I never have to move again), and more importantly, a yard in which Little Miss can run free.

Do I miss the old place? Youbetcha! [said in my best Yooper accent from a former life] My baby condo. How I adored that nest! It was just under 800 square feet, in a coded access building, and on the third floor. Not only was it cozy, but it felt safe. When my world fell apart a few years back, all I wanted was to go home. And home was that little cocoon. It felt like a warm, heavy quilt on a cold day. Like a glowing fireplace in an ice storm. Like my Dad putting his hand on my back and telling me everything would be okay. And it is.

I miss the security and coziness. It was a small space that fit me perfectly. It propelled me toward the minimalist lifestyle I coveted. I had awesome neighbors. It was quiet. It was steps away from the Greenway. Just minutes from work and from downtown. I thought it would be my forever home, and I had such fun making it me.

Remember when the dining room looked like this?
Remember when the dining room looked like this?
And then it looked like this!
And then it looked like this!
Before photo of kitchen.
Remember when the kitchen looked like this?
Full kitchen after photo
And then it looked like this!
Remember when the bedroom looked like this?
Remember when the bedroom looked like this?
And then like this!
And then like this!

It was a wonderful home for 13 years (the longest I’ve lived anywhere), but then I adopted Grace–the reason I get up in the morning–and my world changed. I swore I would only move closer to downtown. I was sure I would never feel safe on ground level. I was emphatic that I not have a yard to maintain. Well look at me now. I moved further from work, further from downtown, and demanded a yard so my baby girl could roll in the grass. Ha! It turns out she is not fond of grass, but that’s for another post.

As sad as it was to say goodbye to the little place, Grace and I are embracing our new home. I didn’t lose my awesome neighbors; now I just call them friends. I’ve been giving the cottage some a boat load of TLC and am getting her blog-ready. Not to worry–I’ve taken the before photos, and there will be plenty to share in the coming months.

But for now, a fond farewell to #307. May you forever enjoy the sound of music, the warmth of laughter, and the pitter-patter of paws within your walls. Well, not literally paws in the walls, but you know what I mean…