Friday, October 21, 2016

Renovating Can Restore Your House...And Your Soul

Hey all,

Finally, the last of my renovation posts. I actually forgot last week...sorry. So today's post covers the last three rooms.  The downstairs bathroom, the guest room (aka Jasiah's room) and the master bedroom.

I really like how these turned out.  The guest room is nice...yet generic, but my son has made it his own.  The bathroom and the master turned out even better than I expected. Nothing is 100% complete, but it'll do for the next year until we get back.

So let's start with the guest room, shall we?  :-)

This was the worst room we had.  It was the one with the major leak and the floor was covered with water when the appraiser went in.

 As you can see, there was mold that had been caused by the previous owner using a dryer in this room and not venting out the wet air. Add that to the leaky plumbing, and it wound up being the area we were most concerned with. Toxic mold is nothing to mess around with. BUT... we took care of it and with our realtor's help, we attacked and conquered!!!  Woot!

And once we pulled up the nasty carpet, this is what we discovered. I love bright colors, but this...not so much. Bleah!

Like the other rooms, we painted it in the butter cream color and trimmed it with wood. We took out the closet doors because my son is a gamer and he wanted to make a gaming area to play in.  Made the room a bit snug, but he's happy, and that's what is important.

On to the downstair's bathroom which turned out to be one of my favorite rooms. It had been a mess. One of the leaks wound up being in the bathroom ceiling, and one day when I was in doing my hair the whole thing came down on me.  Not my happiest moment.  But see what I started with...

As you can see, I had a mess to start with. But I think I turned it into something kinda wonderful. And I did it all myself! Except the ceiling. The boys helped me with that! What do you think?

And finally, the master bedroom. This wasn't meant to be a bedroom at all, but a den or extra game room. But because it had a fireplace, I totally wanted it to be our bedroom. One of my most favorite things is laying in bed with my sweet baboo and watching the flickering flames.

But, as I said, it didn't start out as a bedroom. This is what I had to work with. Not bad by itself but it was wide open to the rest of the house And needing privacy, a lot of things had to change...

You can see the open space behind us. It leads to the staircase and hallway, and it was the first thing we had to deal with so I could have an acutal private room.

But since this was our private place, I wanted to make it as special as I could. It's not complete by any means, but it will give us that privacy and do until we do a major downstairs renovation in a few years. But for now, it's a nice place to enjoy a fire and each other.

Two days before I left for Australia, the mantel fell down, nearly hitting me. (I'm seeing a pattern here.), but the actual fireplace is hidden behind the fan.

 As you can see, we now have a bookcase and door instead of things being wide open. The bookcase was built by my darling son, Jasiah. And it doesn't come close to properly holding all the books I own. LOL

So there you have it. A whole house renovation pretty much in three months. Not too shabby, and now Jonathon and I have a comfortable place to come home to whenever we have a break between tours.

I'll be back on Tuesday with my latest upcoming story. A ghostly Halloween offering that is completely Bad to the Bone.

CJ England

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

How About that Fall Programming?

Hey all,

Even overseas I try and keep up with the latest offerings for TV programming. And every year there are both Good and What the Hell Were They Thinking moments.  For example, this year, there were several interesting shows that I've watched. Some excellent and at least one like...really????

For example...

This series takes the old movie Westworld that starred Yul Brenner and gives it a slightly modern twist. Similar to the original, this HBO offering is gritty, real (except for the whole android thing) and a sometimes disturbing look at what could be if our technology takes a leap forward.

But it was just those things that made us enjoy it. It was interesting and a little bit creepy to watch. Figuring out who was a robot and deciding who exactly was a bad guy made it very entertaining. I will warn you all, it isn't for the faint hearted. It's HBO, so there is nudity, language and adult situations. In fact, the first episode deals with rape, and had a lot of graphic violence.

But if you don't mind that sort of thing, give it a try. I've only seen two episodes, but so far, we're looking forward to more.

Designated Survivor
This show I wasn't sure about when I saw the premise. I'm picky when it comes to political dramas. For example I adored watching The West Wing back in the day and I do like Madam Secretary even though it's a veiled showcase for Hillary Clinton. (I'm not a fan.) So when I first watched this one, I was already predisposed to be leery.

But I have to say I was VERY pleasantly surprised. I like Keifer Sutherland and his portrayal of a normal, slightly befuddled professor who abruptly becomes president was dead on.  The show seems very real. It shows the office--warts and all--and how he is overwhelmed by the sudden responsibility. It also gives a great look at his family and how it affects them.

And of course, there are those who think a man who was appointed to be the HUD head should have NEVER been sworn in as president. So not only does he have to fight his own insecurities, he has covert enemies as well.

Overall, it's one we REALLY like. It's definitely on our to watch list.

But then there was this one...


Honestly, I'm not sure about this show. I LOVED the original MacGyver. Loved Richard Dean Anderson and the whole premise about a guy who who take anything and make it into something else. And the fact his name has become a word in our language... From the Oxford Dictionary...

To Macgyver

  • Make or repair (an object) in an improvised or inventive way, making use of whatever items are at hand.

  • ‘he MacGyvered a makeshift jack with a log’

    ‘he has a shock of short red hair and a pair of rectangular-framed glasses MacGyvered with duct tape’
I've used it myself and almost everyone knows what I mean when I say it.

And that was part of the problem I had with the new and supposedly improved MacGyver. First off, the new Mac is too brash and smug for my taste. He's a little young, but I can work with that. I just don't like the way he plays MacGyver. And even with a great sidekick (I do like how George Eads plays the irrepressible Jack Dalton), the writing falls a bit flat.

But the thing I dislike the most is when Mac does something Macgyverish and they put cheat captions over the top of it.  REALLY???? Are we so stupid we can't figure out what he's doing ourselves? And seriously, part of the fun of the original was trying to understand WHAT he was building. *sigh* So them telling us, destroys part of what made the original so fun.

But we'll try a couple more episodes before we give up on it. I want to give the new show a chance before I write it off forever.

So what new shows are you enjoying this year? Comedy? Drama? Horror? Tell me what you think in the comments

Until Next Friday!!!

CJ England

Friday, October 14, 2016

There’s No Place Like Home... Except Grandma’s

Hey all,

If you've been following me on Facebook, you'll have seen that my son and his lady are going to have a baby. And just this week, they discovered they are going to have a little girl!  So that means I'm going to be the granny to the sweetest little princess ever!!!  Woot!!!!

This is the way they told us... BEST. REVEAL. EVER.

As you can imagine, we are VERY excited. We have been waiting to find out the sex of the baby for a month now, and this was such a cute way to tell everyone.  I've got such a creative family.

Now, I'm all about getting stuff for them and the baby. I'm spending the day (after work, I promise) on Amazon and I've got a feeling afterwards Jonathon will threaten to cut off my credit card.  LOL 

But how can I help it? There is so many cute things for a baby girl. Like these...

Becoming a grandmother is wonderful. One moment you’re just a mother. The next you are all-wise and prehistoric. ~Pam Brown

Grandmas are moms with lots of frosting. ~Author Unknown

Grandmas never run out of hugs or cookies. ~Author Unknown

Grandmother — a wonderful mother with lots of practice. ~Author Unknown

Most grandmas have a touch of the scallywag. ~Helen Thomson

I plan on leading my grandbaby into a lot of trouble. LOL I've been waiting a loooong time to hold my grandchild in my arms. Being half way across the globe is REALLY hard, and I've got this sneaking suspicion we won't be on the road for too much longer. I can't bear being away from this new little treasure. I want to be in her life as she grows.

But until then, I plan on spoiling her completely. After all, isn't that a granny's prerogative?  As this awesome quote says...

Until Tuesday,

CJ England

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Is it the DMV or the Bloody DMDon't

Hey all,

This is the blog I was going to share with you on Friday, but was rant blocked by my landlady and her ridiculous internet limit. But I've been writing this on and off over the last few days and took a quick trip down to Starbucks to upload it. Hopefully, it will come through okay.

I hate the DMV. Hate, hate, hate them.  Actually, I don't think there are very many people who DO like them. Hmmm... Okay, just to be fair, hold up your hand if you do. *searches...searches...searches...* Nope. Didn't think so. Wait...was that a hand there in the back? *shakes head* Takes all kinds.

Now before I go on with my rant, please read this...

*disclaimer... I know there are probably good offices and great people that work at a DMV...those that haven't been corrupted by the company's stupidity and general assholyness.  If you are one of those few people, I applaud you. But, all I can say to you is...RUN...RUN BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE* that I've made that clear...

The DMV is an entity we HAVE to deal with. If you want to drive. If you want to register your vehicle (in most states), they are the people you go to. You can, of course, drive illegally, go off the grid, or not drive at all, but if you want that shiny license with it's less than stellar picture, you have to deal with the DMV.

Now, my utter loathing for them doesn't come from the longass lines, unfriendly and taciturn staff or the fact that (at least in Florida) they've closed most of the offices so you ALL get to go to the same one, adding to the longass lines and irritating the already unfriendly and taciturn staff.

No, my hatred and disgust comes from the fact they are the most unhelpful, ridiculous, inane company on the planet!

We all know how it works.  You have to renew your license, so you grab the longest book you have or tuck a small game console in your pocket. Girding your loins for battle, you take a deep breath and walk through the doors. (If you look close, above the door jam is scratched... Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.)

You grab a number from the machine (G129) , and praying for mercy, you slowly look up at the big flashing board to see what person is lucky enough to have made it to a window. Then you drag yourself to one of their horribly uncomfortable plastic pinch-your-ass chairs because they are only on G45.


And you wait....and wait...and wait. And when you finally make it up to the window, it's hours later, your stomach is growling because you can't eat inside the building, and you wished you'd brought a second book!!!!

BUT...what if you're like me and can't enjoy a restful day waiting for hours at her local DMV while she waits to get her license renewed. What if, you travel the world and won't be in country during the time when you can renew it in person.

Well the DMV has this dandy little thing called an online renewal. Fantastic, right?  I was jazzed when I discovered that. That is until I put in all my information, and it told me I couldn't renew online because I had a FLORIDA ONLY LICENSE.

What?  What the hell does that mean? I looked it up (before my internet died) and discovered a Florida Only License was one given to people before 2009 who also had licenses in other states. (Because Florida is such a snowbird state apparently this was allowed) 

But I didn't have a license in another state. When we moved to Florida back in the early 2000s, we gave up our licenses and became Florida residents. I've only had a Florida license since then, so WTF???

So I wrote them. Explained my license would expire when I was overseas and I couldn't come home to deal with it. I told them I was a full time Florida resident and had been forever. I didn't have two licenses, only the one and I needed the renewal so I could continue legally driving.  I couldn't just come to the local office to fix this, because I was in Australia.

Their response?  A f*cking form letter that said nothing different than what I'd read on the website. This is the law. Come into the office to take care of it.  And then a teeth baring, We hope this was of help to you.

REALLY?  Is it any wonder I hate them? I gave them a specific problem...a mistake THEY had made and all I get is a freaking form letter????? Grrrrrrrr.

So I wrote them again, politely (when I wanted to send one my my fire breathing dragons after them) explaining their mistake, telling them I COULD NOT come to the office. I was TEN THOUSAND miles away from the nearest Florida DMV office.

Their second response. ANOTHER BLOODY FORM LETTER, with this one repeating I needed to go to my local DMV and get this taken care of. And the added. That while it may be inconvenient, I may just have to hop over from Australia to get it taken care of.

Inconvenient? Hop over?


Is it any wonder we hate them like a fat kid hates broccoli?

There has to be a better way. When an entity is universally disliked on the scale the DMV is, something is very wrong. But how do you fight for change when the thing you're fighting is so entrenched in our culture, we think it's perfectly normal to have to deal with it each and every time we walk through their hallowed doors.

Sort of like politics... But THAT was last Tuesday's blog!

Anyway, I'm not sure how my story will end, but I'll keep fighting. Either that or I'll be heading to the states a little earlier than I had planned to.  *sigh*

To end this rant, I thought I'd share a hysterical video about the DMV from the movie Zootopia. If  you've seen the movie, you're probably already laughing. If you haven't, I swear, if this isn't perfect rendition of what we all go through with them, I don't know what is. Watch it through to the end. It's worth it.

(If for some reason you can't see this because of my internet difficulties, go to...

Hysterical, right? The writer obviously had some up close and personal time in HIS/HER local DMV!  

Anyway, pray for me. One way or another I WILL get my license!!!  LOL

You all have a great rest of your week. If I have my internet up and going, I'll see you on Friday with the last of my Cabin Renovating Pictures!!!!

CJ England

Friday, October 7, 2016

What Do You Mean I've Used It All Up???????

Hey all,

The rant blog I was going to write today has been postponed. Probably until Tuesday. Hopefully no longer than that.  Our landlady here in Sydney neglected to inform us that our internet has severe limitations and my daily use to download information, contracts and do research for my books, sucked our time dry in less than a week.

Really?  *sigh*

So while Jonathon and she figure out how to get me back on going, I'm stuck with my data (unlimited, thank God) on my phone. But typing...not so easy, so everything big is on hold until I get my internet back up to speed.

So check back on Tuesday to see if I can share my rant blog with you then!

Have a great weekend!

CJ England

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

I Don't Do Politics...I Just Like To Laugh

Hey all,

In the past I've used Tuesdays to talk about my releases, post silly blogs or let you know what I'm writing about. That won't change, but I think we can add to my Tuesday blogging schedule with some other info and news.

Case in point.

I don't do politics online. There is way too many ways for people to get angry, misrepresent your words or just plain act like idiots. (sorta like the politicians themselves)

But I have to admit I've really enjoyed reading through the different FB memes and posts where people mocked, poked fun at or dissed each of the candidates. Some of them were inspired.

Some were just mean and stupid, and anyone with a brain would know better than to listen to them. But others gave actual facts and brought things to light I wasn't aware of.

But the ones that poked fun at the candidates--in ways that were funny and not cruel--those I enjoyed. Because in all honesty...IMHO this election's choices are so bad, if I didn't laugh...I'd cry.

I won't go any further with MY assessment because it isn't worth pissing anyone off. But as you read through your social media and you have a special post or pic that made you chuckle, please post it or a link in the comments below.

Here's a few of mine...

And Finally...

Until next Friday!

CJ England

Friday, September 30, 2016

Living Through A Home Renovation Is Like...

Hey all,

As you can see by the meme to the right, renovation can often be quite an adventure. Surviving can even be a struggle.

For me, I think while I worked hard to get things done and learned to live in a "dust zone", it was easier than what some people deal with. Partly was because of the help I had, but I think the biggest reason was that I did most of it on my own.

Jonathon was there only for a few days, and while he gave me daily input when he was gone, the majority of the work and decisions were mine. And then I carried them out. No arguing, no worries for the most part. I'd ask his opinion, we'd make a decision and then I'd carry it out.

Not that I'd want to do it again. I MISSED him. Missed him being a part of the fun. If we ever do this again, we'll make sure he's part of the action.

But after two and a half months, I'd done all I could do before leaving. And I was happy...very happy with what we'd built. Last week I gave you the BEFORE and AFTER of the kitchen, bathroom and living room. Let's do a few more rooms!

The Upstairs Bedroom

One of the easiest rooms in the house mainly because I only did the basics in this one. Since my son and his lady were going to decorate it, all I did was give them a base to work with. But once you see the BEFORE, you'll see it was something that needed to be done. Badly.
Maybe they were going to use this room as a nursery. Only reason I could think of for a bedroom painted pale blues and pinks!



As you can see, pretty basic, but SOOOOOOOO much better than the pink and blue.

Let's move on down to the lower level of the house. This area was the part that had the water damage when they turned on the water and forgot to check to make sure the winterizing had been done correctly. Luckily, Jonathon is a wiz at plumbing, electrical and construction, and he taught his family when we renovated our tiny cabin in Idaho.

But this house was also a challenge. There wasn't a single room that didn't need work. Our bedroom (formerly an extra living space) was the best of the lot, so I left that for last. Let me show you two areas that needed a lot of work--two that IMHO, I changed into an area you can use and enjoy!

The Hallway. 
This was where MOST of the water damage was. Floor tile was destroyed, ceiling crumbled and paint was peeling. There was nothing we could do but pretty much start over.  Let me show you what I mean...


 I have to add, when the contractors "fixed" the water (Boy, did that not happen!), they pulled down the destroyed ceiling. And left the broken, moldy and disgusting pieces on the floor under the stairs.
Which destroyed all the tiles.  Bloody idiots!!!!!!!!


 Big difference, right???? I am really proud of myself. Especially the floor. That was my own personal HELL until I got in the groove.  LOL

Now the next room is one I'm REALLY proud of. This one was a joint effort. Jasiah, Jeramiah, Jonathon AND I together changed this room from the worst in the house one of the best. I'm talking about...
The Laundry Room it was called at the beginning.
The Hole of Death.


This is a little fuzzy, but it's the best of the worse pictures. This is what the room looked like when we first moved in.


I have to admit, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE how this turned out. Talk about a before and after, right????

Anyway, that's all for this week. I'll be back next Friday with a special blog about some other things going on, then I'll be back the following Friday with the last of the renovation blogs!  

Have a great weekend! And please, let me know what you think!

CJ England