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Archive for "Home Ownership"

Garage Door Opener Saga Continued

Posted on July 26, 2017 by under Home Ownership, Things to Do.    


Brian spent most of the day on 4th of July finishing what he and Chad started on Sunday afternoon: the partially complete garage door opener installation.


He tweaked and tweaked and tweaked. I wasn’t much help except I got to push the button every time he was ready to test it. He would make some minor adjustment and then he would tell me to push the button and then he would make some more changes and then I’d have to push the button again. I suppose I saved him from having to go up and down the ladder multiple times so I was useful that way.


Touchdown! He was so excited when he finally got it to work. Here’s a video of him explaining the whole thing.

While he was doing most of the troubleshooting — before my button-pushing part — I met Stephanie at North YMCA so we could take Melissa’s special 4th of July Aqua Zumba class.


It was a blast! And, I’m happy to report, my Apple Watch survived it’s second water test (an hour of being submerged in the pool) with flying colors.


I must say, I much prefer taking Aqua Zumba to teaching it specially when it’s 100+ degrees outside. If you’ve not tried Aqua Zumba before, come join us at Andover YMCA on Saturdays at 8:45 AM. We only have a few more weeks left before they close the waterpark. (SIDE NOTE: Hideki is filling in this Saturday while I’m at ZINCON but I’ll be back next weekend.)


Later that day we went to Cory and April’s for a real-deal 4th of July BBQ, complete with ribs and deviled eggs! Mmmm, yum!


April also served a bunch of festively colored food such as red, white, and blue jello, rice crispies cake, and cupcakes.




And Cory made this delicious, fruity concoction called ambrosia. It tasted heavenly!


Unfortunately, we couldn’t stick around for a second, post-fireworks dinner. We had to get back home to comfort our dogs. Not so much Molly, who we are convinced has gone completely deaf in her old age because not only do fireworks not bother her like they do most dogs but she pretends not to hear us whenever we call her so I’m thinking maybe she’s not pretending — LOL — but Saki gets really anxious that she starts shaking.

Honestly, I didn’t mind missing the fireworks portion of the festivities. I love watching the pretty fireworks in the sky but I’m not a huge fan of the loud, booming fireworks on the ground — specially the ones thrown at me. No thanks!

That pretty much concluded our holiday weekend. It was quite and uneventful, just the way we like it. We both still have our fingers and toes and didn’t incur any injuries. I call that a fantastic weekend!

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Our 4th of July Weekend

Posted on July 23, 2017 by under Events, Home Ownership.    

Remember when I wrote about hatching a plan to host a cookout at our house because we hadn’t had company in a while and an old friend from college was in town so that made the perfect excuse to have a party? That actually happened a few weeks ago on the Sunday before the 4th of July.

The weather was near perfect and it turned out to be a fabulous day for a cookout.

Notice that the word “cookout” is italicized. When Brian created the Facebook event, he originally called it a BBQ. I made him change it since we were only grilling burgers and there was no actual BBQ food involved. Apparently, to some people (like Brian), the word BBQ is a generic term synonymous with grilling or cookout.

Well, literal ol’ me, I think BBQ specifically means we are eating BBQ. I prefer to use the term grilling or cookout if no actual BBQ foods would be served. In my mind, if someone invited me to a BBQ and I they didn’t have pulled pork or ribs or brisket, I would be extremely disappointed.

I’d be thinking, “This ain’t no BBQ!”

Anyway, Brian relented and replaced “BBQ” with “cookout” on the event title. But that’s just the start of it. On Saturday, we got a surprise visit from Hideki and Amy because they thought the party was that night.

Hideki was like, “I thought it was weird that Facebook didn’t remind me because it usually does that before event but I thought nothing of it because – WHO THE HECK THROWS A PARTY ON A SUNDAY?”

Well, the Brubaker do when they’ve got Monday off. LOL. Since Tuesday was a holiday, I went ahead and asked for Monday off as a day of vacation to get a four-day weekend. Rune was out of the country and agreed to close his office on that day so Brian got the day off as well.

It was quite a productive weekend actually. My college friend Chad agreed to come over early and help Brian with the installation of our third card garage door opener. Our neighbor Raj gave the opener to us a couple of years ago because he didn’t want/need it anymore and it sat on our garage floor for over year. Brian never got around to installing it. It was either too hot or too cold or I had schedule too many things so there was no time. He also couldn’t get anyone (friends or family) to come over and help him. So I hatched a plan to rid him of his excuses and finally get it done. Chad is fit and strong and I figured that I should take advantage of this opportunity while he’s in town.

Brian’s been trying to get this garage door opener install done for over a year. I think he actually made a couple of plans with his dad for him to come up and help but all of those plans had fallen through for one reason or another. Our final resort was my dad who is also quite “handy” like his dad and doesn’t live that far away but I was really trying to avoid asking for either of our dads to help because, you know, how shall I put this delicately? THEY’RE OLD.

Chad was the prefect age and health for helping and, naturally, the opportunist in me kicked in and seized the opportunity to cash in a favor. He reached out to me out of the blue a few months ago to use me as a character reference for a job application. He has since gotten that job and, though I can’t really claim any responsibility for that, I figured that I was at least entitled to one favor, which I enthusiastically cashed in that weekend.

Brian was amazed that I got Chad to agree to help because he had no success with any of his friends. Not that he’s put much effort into asking for help. I’m thinking he didn’t really want to do the garage door opener install and not having any help was the perfect reason not to get it done. I even offered to help him complete the task on numerous occasions (an act of desperation on my part because I don’t really enjoy hanging out in our garage — that is Brian’s realm). However, Brian rejected all of my offers because he said I’m too weak and too short — my height being the biggest factor. Apparently, we don’t have a ladder tall enough to compensate for my physical shortcomings (pun intended). It’s a two-person job that requires specific skills and abilities, some of which I lack. This isn’t the first time I’ve been underestimated or excluded because of my physical stature or gender or how I look period so I’m used to it. It doesn’t even offend me anymore. At this point, I just want the garage door opener installed — DARN IT!

Brian was like, “How did you get Chad to agree to help me?” I told Brian that I mentioned to Chad how we were debating on how “handy” he is. “I told him that you (Brian) told me that he didn’t look handy and I argued that I thought he was handy because he restored a classic car years ago and he enjoys working on cars.”

Perhaps he agreed to help Brian with the garage to show him how truly “handy” he is. LOL.

Jokes and manipulation aside, I think Chad would have helped regardless because he is just a super nice guy. He told us that he appreciated the break from packing. This was the weekend that he was packing all of his stuff in Wichita in preparation for the big move to Kansas City for the new job.

Anyway, I was thinking he agreed to help but there was a small chance that he could still flake out at the last second. I’ve had friends do that. I didn’t think Chad would pull something like that but you never know. Not only did he show up to help as promised but he even brought Brian beer! Who does that? Usually the person getting help buys the beers. I suppose he felt like had had to bring something for the cookout even though we told him he didn’t need to bring anything.

I had to teach a Zumba class so I left the guys to do whatever they needed to do. Although, I kind of wish I stuck around because neither of them read the instructions. Our cookout started late because they spent so much time working on getting the garage door opener to work and I’m thinking that, had I stayed to supervise, it might have gotten done in half the time — and correctly.

I can tell Chad is an optimist because when he sensed my disappointment he was like, “Hey, it’s mounted and off the floor. I call that progress!”

They set the work aside for the evening because people were starting to show up for the cookout and we had no burgers. LOL. At this point, Chad’s part was done. All of the physical labor of mounting the garage door opener to the ceiling was done and Brian just needed to troubleshoot the darn thing and figure out why it wouldn’t work. It was sort of working but wouldn’t stay shut so we all figured that Brian just needed to make a few adjustments. Here’s video of Brian explaining it all.

SIDE NOTE: Zumba class was super fun that day. I had quite a few people despite it being a holiday weekend. Brynden was in Augusta with her cousins and she brought them to dance with us. They even wore pink, which was the color of the day.


Even Alicia’s son Brandon, who has been coming to Zumba to represent the family while his mom Alicia and sister Kariana are vacationing in Panama, got in the spirit. He went all out for pink day!


Back at home, Brian and Chad were both still alive when I returned. There were no injuries and, like Chad said, the garage door opener was off the floor and mounted. I guess that’s pretty darn good.


This photo shows (from left) Becca, Misty, Chad, Jay, Jake, Meader, Holly, and Christina. They were playing my new What Do You Meme? game. We also had a some people playing yard games outside. We pulled out our old Ladder Golf game, which is always a favorite, and the new corn hole (bean bag toss) game that we got from Academy (which was extremely disappointing because we just bought it the day before, after dinner with Hideki and Amy, and the next day, after only a few rounds, it was already broken — I was told the store-bought ones are always made so flimsy that you are better off making your own — but that’s another blog post).


Speaking of Hideki and Amy, these two are such great sports. It was a pleasure hanging out with them twice in one weekend (the first time by accident).

It was a pretty relaxed weekend (except for a bit of drama with Jenni and her boyfriend — some people are happy drunks and some people are angry drunks and I’m going to leave it at that — LOL) and people were in and out playing various games. I started out playing the What Do You Meme? game and then had Becca take over for me. Hideki had Jay take over for him when he and Amy went outside to play some yard games. I took a picture of Hideki and Jay because they ended up winning What Do You Meme? that night.


The funny thing is, while Hideki and Amy were playing yard games outside, they decided to walk over to the Pokémon gym in the pond out back but then when they walked back, there was drama on the back deck so they decided to walk all the way around and came back in through the front door. I was totally confused when I let them back in because I didn’t see them leave. That’s when they explained that they didn’t want to get in the middle of the argument that was ensuing.


Oh, I forgot to mention the funny thing about the beers! Brian and I went and got some beers to share with everyone. Nothing fancy: a 24-pack of 16 oz. Bud Light can, a 12-pack of Summer Shandy, and a 12-pack of the festive Smirnoff bottles. The Smirnoff thing was completely spontaneous. We had run into one of Jenni’s old friends from school Jennifer (Canare) who was doing a promo of the Smirnoff. The case consisted of four blue ones, four red ones, and four white ones. She let me do a taste test and they weren’t bad. I didn’t really care what they tasted like, though. They looked so festive that it didn’t take much to convince to buy some.

Most people are pretty specific about what they like to drink but we like to provide some options for people who are fine drinking whatever is provided. Brian was drinking the Fat Tires that Chad brought for him most of the night until that ran out and he moved on to the Bud Lights. LOL.

We had cooler full of bottled waters in addition to the beer cooler and, as we were getting ready for the party on Sunday, I remembered that we still had a bunch of those Cheap Date beers that Brian won (bought) at a beer pull at one of the fundraising events we attended recently. I had the brilliant idea of throwing the Cheap Date beers in the beer cooler so that we could finally get rid of them.


This is what we had left in the cooler the next day. The Summer Shandy was a hit. I only found one left in there. Misty told me that the only reason that we had one left is probably because it ended up in the bottom and no one could find it. LOL. We still had a bunch of Smirnoff bottles and Bud Light cans left and, despite there being the fewest of them, three Cheap Date cans survived.


I guess it didn’t take long for people to figure out these beers are horrible and to stay away from them. LOL. Generally, all beers taste horrible to me so I had no idea that people could actually distinguish the difference. Apparently, they can.

The cookout was so much fun that I toyed with the idea of throwing a Halloween party again this year and then realized that I will be celebrating my 40th birthday in the Great Exuma (Bahamas) so that won’t work. We will just have to find another excuse to throw a party.

I hope y’all are having a fabulous weekend. Until next time!

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Dad is So Crafty

Posted on May 17, 2014 by under Home Ownership, Projects, Tips.    


My dad recently found a hole under the concrete slab that his AC rests on behind his house. He couldn’t figure out what had been digging that hole. It could be anything. Rather than speculating, he put a camera down the hole and captured video. It wasn’t in there and there burrow had no clues as to what kind of animal had been using the hole for shelter. The animal did not come back while dad’s camera was in the burrow.


Dad removed the camera and filled the hole up. As soon as that happened the animal returned and there’s the hole again. It drove dad crazy not knowing what he was dealing with so he did what any resourceful Pinoy would do. He didn’t want to have to buy an outdoor camera so he rigged his Foscam for outdoor use. Not only that, he set up the monitoring features so he could watch from his PC and he also set up the camera to auto-record using motion detection. Here are some pictures of his outdoor camera contraption.




Pretty clever, right?


He mounted the rig to a stick staked to the ground and pointed the camera right at the hole. Sure enough he got the perpetrator on video. He posted the video on his Facebook wall but I’m not sure how to share it with you guys because of the privacy settings.


Turns out, a skunk has been making a home under that concrete slab. I suggested calling Animal Control but it seems like dad is having too much fun playing cat and mouse with the skunk. Now he wants to build some kind of one-way door so that when the skunk leaves the hole it can’t get back in. Seriously.

For those of you who someday find yourself in this predicament, there are a couple of options: (1) make a trap, or (2) call Animal Control. I’m a proponent of the latter myself because it’s less hassle. If you are like my dad though, then you think it’s fun to rig things. I’m guessing there will be people out there who will go for the first option. However, think about what you’re going to do after you capture it. How are you going to release it into the wild without getting sprayed? And where are you going to release it? I say go with the second option all the way.

If you are not yet in this predicament and want to avoid it, here are some suggestions.

  • Don’t plant fruit-bearing trees. If it’s too late and you already have trees that produce nuts, berries, crabapples, or other fruits, remember rake your yard often so the goodies don’t tempt critters to come over and feast on your lawn.
  • Protect your waste. Don’t leave your trash bin out except on trash day. If there’s no room in your garage and the trash bin has to be outside, make sure that it is securely fastened so the smell doesn’t attract skunks and other critters.
  • Close off hiding places. Use rocks, fencing, plywood, etc. to close off any potential hiding places. If you have unkempt bushes and vegetation around your house, make sure these are trimmed so as not to appear so appealing to wild animals.
  • Install yard lights. Nocturnal creatures such as skunks don’t like bright lights so this may be a suitable and attractive deterrent. Lights with motion detection will probably be most effective because it will trick the animal into thinking someone’s there.
  • Use chemical warfare. Okay, not in the grand World War III scale. Skunks don’t like ammonia so soaking rags with ammonia and placing it in potential hiding places is an option. Scattering orange or lemon peels around your property, specifically under your deck or porch is a good option also.
  • Install motion-activated sprinklers. If you have the resources and really want to keep critters out, this is another alternative. It’s a nice surprise for two-legged unwanted visitors also. LOL.

I hope you find these tips helpful. I’ll keep you posted on my dad’s adventures.


No More Rose Bushes

Posted on April 27, 2014 by under Home Ownership.    

After almost two years of living here we finally got around to getting rid of the rose bushes. Brian loathed them so much. Now they are finally gone. In their stead we have trees and shrubbery that are much more our style. Low maintenance and without thorns. Here are a couple of photos of the new plants.

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The one on the left is a river birch. I guess they’re quite popular because they are fast growing ornamental trees. My parents have some and so do others in our neighborhood. Not to be confused with the other river birch tress, we named ours Burch Reynolds. Guess who came up with that one. LOL.

The one on the right is a juniper tree. The landscape architect recommended a juniper because it’s an evergreen and it will look fantastic year round when the rest of our plants lose their foliage. Brian named this one Fern.

We have an existing tree in the middle of our yard that’s always been there. It appears to be some sort of redbud, though we don’t know for sure. We named ours Gimp because it doesn’t look as magnificent as all the other redbuds we’ve been seeing around town. In fact, I didn’t even think it was a redbud at first. I posted some photos of it on Facebook and asked for help identifying the type of tree. Several people said redbud so we’re just going with that.

We didn’t name the rest of the plants because we really have no idea what they are. They look nice though. The only other thing we named is our bubbling boulder. I know rocks aren’t alive like plants are, but this one bubbles. Besides, people name other inanimate objects like their cars. Our cars have names too. We didn’t want to leave the bubbler out so we named it Jane Fountain.

To sum up, the newest residents of Casa de Felitaciones are Jane Fountain, Burch Reynolds, Fern, and Gimp. Next time you’re over, you’ll have to say hi to them.

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Post Halloween Party Aftermath

Posted on November 9, 2013 by under Food and Drink, Home Ownership.    


We picked up a little before we went to bed after the party last weekend, but this is the mess that we woke up to the next day.



Rather than deal with the mess straight off, Brian and I decided that this was the perfect excuse to go have brunch at a new place, Birds on the Roof Bakery & Cafe. We’d heard many good things.


The place is actually quite nice. I really like the colorful decor.



The place is kind of quirky. I like the cloth napkins, novel napkin rings, and even mismatched silverware.


The fancy water glasses are nice too, but they don’t hold much water. It wouldn’t be so bad if they refilled the water glass more frequently. I kept running out of water and it would take forever between refills.


The runny eggs were strike two. Brian specifically asked for them to be fried hard.


The bacon was good but the damage was done. Brian did not want to touch his eggs but he didn’t want to ask for them to get redone either so I ended up eating them.


There’s not many places in town you can get crepes, so that is what I ordered. Here are a couple of pictures of my chicken and spinach crepe.


I was not particularly impressed. The crepe itself was too thick and more pancake-like than I prefer. They put a lot of filling in it also which is both good and bad. It’s great that you get more chicken for your money, but all of the filling overpowered the crepe and made it even less crepe-like. Sad to say this but the chicken florentine crepe that I had at a kiosk inside the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando when we were there for the Zumba instructor convention was far superior (even if I did have to eat it out of a water cone, LOL).


Here’s the dessert display case. For a bakery, it wasn’t very impressive. It looked kind of sad and empty actually. If you’re going to tack “bakery” at the end of your name, I’m going to expect more than this sad display case. When I think of a restaurant and bakery, the display cases I’m envisioning are the likes of Bagatelle (fantastic cakes, by the way, and they always give you free dessert which is a bonus) and Copper Oven. Their bakery here seemed like an afterthought.

They served an English muffin with Brian’s breakfast and I asked for toast, neither of these tasted like they were baked on site. They gave us this hard French roll while we were waiting for our food and that didn’t taste freshly baked either. I would have much rather had Tita Tessie’s pan de sal over it.


Birds on the Roof Bakery & Cafe on Urbanspoon

As far as the price goes, their prices are pretty reasonable. No complaints there. Service was slow, but it wasn’t terrible, and the runny eggs were not the servers fault so we gave her $4 bucks, which is a decent tip relative the cost of our meal. We looked at the ticket and she wrote it down correctly, Brian and I concluded that the cook either wasn’t paying attention or didn’t know how to make a hard egg.

I really wanted to like this place because other people I know have loved it, but everything I liked about the place had nothing to do with the food. I like the clever name. The location is great. The restaurant has a wonderful ambiance. I like having cloth napkins and real silverware. The decor is nice and cheerful. All of that stuff is fabulous so if I’m just going there to hang out, I would totally love the place. As far as the food goes, I’ve had better breakfast meals elsewhere, so if I’m looking for somewhere to eat Birds on the Roof wouldn’t be my first pick.

On the bright side, when we came home from breakfast we were ready to tackle the aftermath of the previous night’s party. We still need to do some deep cleaning (vacuuming and mopping, etc.) but we picked up the mess and wiped all of the surfaces. Look at what we accomplished.


Our house was back to normal in no time. Of course, we were still pooped from having stayed up all night so we ended up taking a nap after this and didn’t wake up again until five in the afternoon. That was pretty much our Sunday.

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