Archive for the ‘Everyday Life’ Category

Our First House

October 16, 2014

Well it took us nearly 5 years of marriage but we are finally homeowners! We officially became Houston residents in June and were living at Mark’s dad’s house until we found a house which we closed on at the end of July. The entire process went very smoothly and we couldn’t be happier with our home and our neighborhood.



The house itself is only 8 years old so there weren’t any big projects to tackle as soon as we moved in but I was quick to grab a bucket and brush to freshen up some walls with new paint. To date I have painted the pantry, powder bathroom, office bathroom, master bathroom, guest bedroom and guest bedroom closet. Mark also painted the garage floor; it’s one of those little details that not many people do but it’s SO NICE. We had the entry, stairwells and entire second floor painted by professionals and I’m so glad that we did…what their 4 person crew did in 8 hours would have easily taken me at least 2 weeks.

One thing that we did take on ourselves was revamping our little backyard. We started by power washing the deck which was so dirty it was almost black in places. When we bought the place the entire yard was covered with wood chips so we dug that up, broke up the soil, added some compost and laid some sod. Ben got to help us with the hard part :)






With some freebie red bricks we formed a little flower bed in the corner and we have since planted some flowers and grasses there that will grow taller and help cover up the electrical box. We also found some solar powered lights for along the fence, they charge during the day and come on automatically every evening when it gets dark.




The entire backyard project only cost us about $225 which includes the grass, plants, hanging flower pots, solar lights and a few miscellaneous things. Now that the weather is starting to cool down we’re definitely enjoying the space!


2014: Q1

March 12, 2014

What? We’re almost through the first three months of 2014? And my last post was about Christmas? Oops. In my defense I have a legitimate excuse…I started my own business! At the end of January I quit my job at 24hr Fitness and got to work submitting paperwork to obtain a business license and all that other fun stuff that comes with becoming a small business owner. It’s been quite a process, sometimes challenging, sometimes frustrating, but at the end of the day I’m finally doing what I love full time and I couldn’t be happier. Big shout out to my incredible hub who let me quit my day job and who is letting me stay home and build signs all day long; he’s the best.


My business is called Would You Believe Wood and I design and build hand painted reclaimed wood signs to be sold on Etsy. If you’re not familiar with Etsy, it’s basically an online marketplace for individuals to sell their handmade goods (anything from jewelry to home decor to art to clothing). I’ll be sharing another post soon with more details about my new venture.

But for now back to the original purpose of this post, a photo dump from the past three months. It’s honestly the easiest way to “catch up” without actually writing a bunch of posts…some might call it cheating or lazy but I prefer the word efficient :)

Let’s start from the beginning, aka: 12:00am, January 1, 2014. We rang in the new year once again with great friends, great wine and great food. Last year our wine won second place in the blind tasting but sadly, this year we got second to last. Womp, womp.



We are bound and determined to make our California friends love football as much as we do but that’s no easy task, they weren’t brainwashed growing up in the South like we were. These pretty cupcakes for our Superbowl party helped though!


The first week after I quit my job I helped a friend renovate her bathroom; we had almost no idea what we were doing but we were excited to learn from her dad and brother who are both contractors so we figured we’d be ok. Basically every morning Haley’s brother would stop by and give us instructions for the day, then we would get to work for a solid 8+ hours and go to bed exhausted. It was fun…most of the time…if you call mixing thinset a billion times fun. It was definitely fun learning how to use a wet saw to cut tiles :)


We started by tearing up the existing vanity, floor tile, hardware and shower insert. Then after lots of prep-work (the part you never think about but takes the longest) we laid the floor tile and lined the shower with waterproofing. Here we are a couple days later laying the floor to ceiling subway tile in the shower. Haley was the butterer and I was the layer, the dynamic duo!


And here’s the beautiful shower after grouting! I am in love with that pebble floor…it was a pain to install but I still love it.


Here’s a before photo during the demo…


And an in progress photo before the subway was grouted and before the shower door was installed…


And finally the gorgeous after photo!


For Valentine’s Day Mark and I spent a weekend in Monterey and we stayed at a cute little 18 room boutique hotel called Hotel 1110. It was super nice and a welcome change from your typical Marriott, very “hipster.” We had an amazing dinner at our go-to fancy pants place, Restaurant 1833, where we tried bone marrow for the first time and indulged in their famous bacon cheddar biscuits with maple chili butter. The weather was quite beautiful and sunny while we were there so we spent our afternoons walking along the beach searching for sand dollars.


Things are finally budding, flowering and greening up around San Ramon thanks to a few good rains over the past two weeks. I don’t want to speak too soon but unless something else blows through in the near future I think we’re in the clear for our 8 months of non-stop sunny gorgeousness. I personally cannot wait for the temps to break 80, this girl misses her long Texas summers.


Quick Trip Home

December 17, 2013

Well it seems that blogging has gone by the way side lately; time has been speeding by so quickly and all of a sudden it’s been two months since my last post. Eek! This can only mean one of two things: our lives have been unusually boring and therefore nothing blog-worthy has been happening OR our lives are full to the brim with things I wish I had time to share, but don’t…the latter is definitely the case :)

On a sad note, our sweet Otis went to doggie heaven a couple months ago. I honestly believe that the bigger the dog, the bigger the heart and our loving buddy was no exception to this rule; he was a big, tough guard dog on the outside and a cuddly marshmallow on the inside. I’ll never forget how he would bark and growl at Mark the first few years that we dated but over time Otis grew to trust him and finally they could wrestle and play together in the yard. You’re definitely missed sweet buddy.


Mark and I went to Rogers for an extended weekend as sort of a pre-Thanksgiving visit and got to enjoy some relaxation time on the farm. It’s so nice to get away and just do nothing! Dad showed off his new remote controlled airplane and even let Mark fly it, I took some photos of the garden and of the newest litter of kittens and we went on walks around the property with pellet guns (our favorite).




We also got in a little bodark bowling with Ben, a classic Baecker family pastime. If you are new to the sport, it is basically this: gather a wheel-barrel full of bodarks (aka: horse apples) after they’ve fallen from the Bodark tree, wheel them down to the top of the driveway hill and take turns bowling them down the gravel road to see whose can go the furthest.


It actually takes more skill than you would think, after all the gravel is bumpy and the road curves a bit so you have to hit the rocks just right and keep your horse apple from bouncing off to the side. As kids we would do this all the time and then leave our leftover bodarks in the road for us to drive over later. I’d say our design this time was the best yet.



Of course a Rogers visit wouldn’t be complete without a pic of our favorite feline, Mr. Jack. Here he is posing while he sits in the kitchen sink, patiently waiting for someone to turn the faucet on so he can drink from it (just a slow dribble, not too fast or he won’t drink). He’s definitely spoiled rotten.


And our favorite canine as well, my Sadie May. She kills me with her sweet jealousy…I was sitting in a lawn chair with a cat sleeping in my lap and she comes over, puts her head on top of the cat and wags her tail, wanting a scratch behind the ear. Sweet, silly dog :)



August 31, 2013

We’ve been pretty busy this summer and individually each event isn’t blog-worthy but all mixed in together they are! Here’s what’s been going on around here lately, in photos, of course.

We finally used our electric ice cream maker again {we’re averaging about 1-2 uses per year, haha}. Using some of the Mexican vanilla that I bought while we were in Cabo, we made Mexican vanilla chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream…with homemade chocolate chip cookie dough…it. was. delish.


For the first time I had a legitimate excuse to use my Texas-shaped cookie cutter; some friends of ours were about to move to Houston and I baked these for their going away party. After some experimentation I found that baking sugar cookies for 6-8 minutes at 400 degrees versus 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees sets the cookie dough faster and helps the cookies hold their shape.


The finished product with icing and a heart on Houston.


Mark’s mom and her friend Cindy came to visit for a few days. They spent some time in the city, we went wine tasting, showed them around the San Ramon area and did some hiking on Mt. Diablo.


The views from the summit are absolutely incredible…you can see for miles and miles in every direction since it’s the tallest peak around.

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Almost on a whim, Mark and I spent an evening at the California State Fair; we were already in the Sacramento area so we figured, why not?


It was a surprisingly fun evening which we spent mostly people-watching and dropped-money-searching {Mark is notorious for finding $$ but we left empty handed}.


There were a million food stands with everything from chocolate covered bacon to turkey legs to churros. Similar to the Texas state fair there was a strange selection of fried items as well.


My favorite part of the state fair was seeing the livestock. They had a newborn animal area where there were less than week old piglets, goat kids and calves; the kids jumping all over their mothers were my favorite!

Currently in the livestock pens were pigs, sheep, longhorns and…wait for it…llamas and alpacas. I had no idea that people actually raised and showed those funny looking animals. They were very entertaining and we even got to pet one too!


The longhorns made us feel a little more at home :) They are such beautiful animals up close; they are also very, very large…


Our local farmers markets have been great this summer, the one held in Danville is our favorite. It almost feels like Austin with the live musicians, caricature artists and pets on leash. Last week we spotted a guy having a caricature drawn of his humongous, fluffy orange cat.



The Red Sox came to play the Oakland A’s and since the tickets were really cheap we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see them play. Our seats ended up being great, front row in left field, perfect spot to catch home run balls {but we didn’t see any}.


We did get booed a little since we were wearing our Red Sox gear but we kind of expected it, we’ve got to represent our team!


Rohrs Baby Shower

August 19, 2013

This is waaay past due {little Elia is already 2 months old!} but here are a few pictures from a dear friend’s shower back in May that I helped organize.

Tricia’s sister, Audrey, did an amazing job organizing the whole event down to the very last detail; I helped out with the decorations and baked some cookies as well. There was a ton of delicious food, made by their mother and family, not to mention the yummy desserts. The party favors were those little yellow boxes which each held two macarons from La Boulange, a local French bakery.



The small chalkboard wall was all drawn up for the shower as well! I hope to have a chalkboard or small wall like this in my home someday, it’s so much fun to doodle on and customize for whatever event or season is happening.


Tricia with her mom, grandmother and sister…now that Elia is here they’ll have to be sure to take another picture with all four generations! This reminds me of the photo I have of two-month-old me, my mother, grandmother and great grandmother :)


Every guest was asked to bring a book to build up baby’s library. There were book tags at the front door for everyone to fill out and stick on the inside cover of their book.


And of course there was the opening of the gifts. Elia is definitely the best dressed little girl I’ve ever seen thanks to all the cute dresses she received.


Elisha’s Baby Shower

May 2, 2013

A couple weekends ago all of my small group gal friends threw a baby shower for our friend Elisha, she’s expecting her first baby {a little boy} in just a couple of months. I was in charge of decorations and had a total blast putting everything together! I chose a yellow, lime and navy animal theme because it matched the crib sheets that Elisha was registered for, that way she could reuse some of the decor in the baby’s room if she wanted to. Here’s the dining table all decked out…


And also a pic of our beautiful, Pinterest-worthy food table; we had fresh lemonade, pear and walnut salad, mixed fruit cups, watermelon caprese bites, deviled eggs, edamame hummus with endive spears, homemade macarons, sugar cookies and lemon blueberry cupcakes.



Remember this photo I posted a while ago? The very beginnings of my decoration inspiration came from an idea I saw online to spray paint plastic animals. I found these elephants, tigers, lions and giraffes at Walmart for $1 each and also grabbed a can of dark navy blue spray paint.

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It took quite a few coats to get in all of those little nooks and crannies but they looked pretty cool once they were all solid blue.


The blue animals sat atop a lime green table runner that I made using some fabric I found at Joanne’s. I also couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make some tissue paper pom poms, they are just way too easy to make and they are so pretty!


It’s still strange to me that I’m at that point in life where I’m going to or planning a baby shower every month. It’s definitely a fun place to be, though, because I love having an excuse to be creative and bake!


A Day in the Life

March 22, 2013

So often I find myself getting caught up in the every day routine; I get up early and go to work each day, counting down until the weekend, only to start again the next Monday. Weeks turn to months and months add up to a year…as of today, March 21st, we have been California residents for an entire year. ONE. WHOLE. YEAR. That feels incredibly surreal for me to say because looking back it seems to have gone by so quickly.

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Like I was saying, it’s easy to treat each day as just another 24 hours to get through, let time fly by and forget to be thankful for the big picture. We’re making great friends and great memories out here :) That’s what I’m most thankful for. Here’s a little glimpse into what a typical week looks like for us now…

On a typical Monday morning you’ll find me up at 4am, preparing to be at work by 6am. Mark sleeps a little later but then comes to the gym around 7am to get a workout in before his day begins. It’s nice to have him visit me at work, sometimes he’ll bring me something from Starbucks too :) Then he’ll head out for the day, usually to the Sacramento area to visit a few school districts and sell a few hundred iPads. I get off work at 2pm and work out for a while before heading home. Mark usually makes it back an hour or two after me and we’ll veg for a little while, I’ll make dinner, he’ll do some emailing for work. During the work week we usually try to be in bed around 9:30pm, earlier would be nice but it never happens, haha.

On a typical Tuesday the routine is much the same. If the weather is nice we might take a walk to the nearby park and watch a little league game or a dog playing fetch with his owner. With the exception of some cloud cover and a little drizzle yesterday the weather is definitely showing signs of spring here, almost every tree is blooming and the rolling hills are a beautiful shade of bright green.

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On a typical Wednesday evening we have our small group gathering. There are 8-11 couples from our church that regularly attend and we alternate between each others’ houses every Wednesday night. Right now we’re going through a marriage study called Love & Respect, it’s been really great, especially the ensuing conversations that are had within our group. We’ve never had such an amazing support system of Godly people in our lives before, I can hardly believe that we’ve only known them for 9 months.

On a typical Thursday the week begins to wind down. I work just four days per week and Mark usually has an office day with no traveling on Friday so in a sense Thursdays are my Fridays :) We’ll stay up a little later, watch the Office, maybe go for a sunset drive in the coupe…did I mention that we now own a sports car? I have to admit that I do enjoy it myself, not as much as Mark does I’m sure but nonetheless. We bought it back in September and we’re beginning to have some of the little dents and dings repaired to get it looking perfect again.

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On a typical Friday I try to get all of the housework done before the real weekend begins, this usually means doing laundry, cleaning around the house, getting some groceries, etc. If I’ve got a crafty project going on I’ll work on that too. Right now I’m in the middle of planning decorations for two baby showers coming up in April and May for a couple of ladies in our small group. Friday evenings we might go grab a couple margaritas at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Maria Maria, or stay in and watch a movie.

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{A sneak peek at a little project I’m working on for one of the baby showers}

On a typical Saturday anything goes…we might sit around all day and accomplish next to nothing, we might go for a few hour hike in Las Trampas to view the city from afar or (like this coming Saturday) we might go wine tasting with friends. Previously we’ve only ventured to nearby Livermore for some less pricey tastings but this Saturday we’re celebrating a promotion and a big move within our small group so we’re heading to Napa!

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On a typical Sunday morning we attend church and hang around for a little while afterwards to chat with our friends. Occasionally we’ll do lunch together but since my soccer season started back up a couple weeks ago I’ve had some 11am games to attend. I’m really enjoying the coed team that I’m on but the chemistry is nothing like what I had with my ladies’ team back in Austin. Some games we play on turf and some are on grass, I’ve grown to like the turf more because the California parks seem to keep their grass extremely long and it feels like we’re playing in sand. Sunday afternoons are pretty low key; we’ll go for a jog or walk, do some laundry and prepare for the work week ahead. Our pastor gave a sermon recently about the importance of Sabbath and what it truly means to Sabbath and take a day for relaxation and reflection. We’re trying our best to use our Sundays wisely :)

And that’s what a typical week in the Rand household looks like! We do have something more atypical and pretty exciting coming up in April, we’re going on a vacation to an all-inclusive resort in Cabo with two other couples from our small group! We’ve literally been counting down the days since we booked our flights and now that we’re within a month all six of us can’t stop talking about how much fun we’re going to have. The last time Mark and I were in Cabo we were on our honeymoon three and a half years ago (don’t even get me started on how quickly our marriage has flown by). It’s going to be a great start to what will inevitably be a wonderful summer!

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Final Countdown

December 4, 2012

Race week is finally here! I haven’t begun to get nervous yet but I’m sure I will on Friday when I’m in Walnut Creek to pick up my race packet at the expo. I went with my mom to an expo for one of her Rock ‘n Roll half marathons in San Antonio and I remember the general feeling of excitement and anticipation in the air; I can’t wait to experience it all again but from a runner’s perspective this time.

We’ve got our pre-race dinner and race morning breakfast all planned out…the night before we’re going to have loaded baked potatoes with ground beef, broccoli and cheese and in the morning we’ll do bananas with peanut butter and a granola bar or toast.

Based on my training and my average pace during some longer runs my goal for race day is to maintain a 12:30 pace which would have me finishing with a total time of 2:43:52. The GPS on my phone (which assists the Nike+ app) has been a little off, it thinks I run anywhere from a 9:30 pace to a 13:00 pace and jumps around sporadically, so I’ll probably have to calculate my pace in my head during the race and figure out the exact times once I’m across the finish line. To be honest, I’ll be happy with anything under 3 hours but I know that I’m capable of finishing under 2:45:00 so that’s my goal!

In these last couple of days before the race we’re doing our best to eat well, drink lots of water, stretch and roll our legs each day, go on a couple relaxed runs and get lots of sleep. This will be the longest distance that either of us have ever run and we’re both super excited to cross the finish, tired and sweaty :) Did I mention that thanks to some very generous donations from family and friends Mark and I both met our donation goals?? Thanks to all of you we raised enough money for over 32 people to have fresh water for life! WOO HOO!!


November 30, 2012

Since we spent a week in Texas at the beginning of November and plan to return for the Christmas holiday we spent Thanksgiving in California. Luckily some of our friends were in the same scenario so we decided to have Thanksgiving dinner together, just the Rands and the Krouts!

I was in charge of preparing the cornbread stuffing and dessert. I went a little overboard and made mini pumpkin pies, molasses spice cookies and an apple pie. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you which of the three were my favorite because they were all amazing.

After dinner we watched some football and played with their cat, Aesop. The next day we were all free from work so we got together again and went wine tasting in Livermore. Compared to Napa and Sonoma, Livermore is much closer to home, the tastings are inexpensive {sometimes free} and the atmosphere is much more casual and less snobby. We haven’t lived here long enough to become wine snobs so that whole scene isn’t very appealing to us, we just like to enjoy some wine and good conversation with friends while watching the sun set over the vines.


November 29, 2012

During the first week of November Mark had a work conference back in Austin so  I decided to go as well and spend some time in Texas. It sure was great to be back, we’d really been missing home because we hadn’t been back for an extended stay since we made the move to California.

We spent a weekend in Rogers with my family and were reunited with our former cat, Jack. I don’t think he misses us much, he’s just a little spoiled now.

Thanks to my mom I managed to stick to my running schedule, I even got to go on a long run with her and her running buddies on Saturday morning.

There are a lot of things about Texas that I miss on a regular basis, one of them being grocery shopping at HEB. They have Texas-shaped tortilla chips…need I say more?

I also ate at Sonic, washed cars in the 85 degree weather, helped Ben paint the inside of his tiny house, made a trip to Goliad to see the grandparents and drove down Congress on my way through Austin to pick up Mark. Austin was just the same as we left it, amazing.

The second weekend we spent in Houston with Mark’s family. We watched Texas A&M beat Alabama {!!!}, had a big family dinner at Texas Roadhouse, went to the HUGE Nutcracker Market at Reliant and met up with friends. It was really hard to voluntarily get on the plane and head back to CA, Texas will always be home, no matter what :)