Saturday, November 28, 2009

I Like to Make Things With My Hands...

So, I have a new roommate. Her name is Katelyn, and she is a peach. We get along great and both have a penchant for handbags and shoes. Expensive, but truly enjoyable.

She loves to watch HGTV. I also like to watch this channel, but I usually get stuck on the Seinfeld re-runs or The Food Network before I venture far enough down the cable guide listings to find out what is on. Since she's moved in, I've been taking in a lot more of programs like "Design On A Dime," "Divine Design," "Color Splash" etc etc etc. The point of most of these shows is they take a space and remodel or redecorate based on the owners' budget and design preferences.

I have two favorite shows on this channel. The first one is "Design on a Dime." The owner allots a budget (usually $1000 or so) and then the designers have to design the entire space under their budget. The second one is called "Color Splash" I like this one because the host, David Bromstad, was the winner of HGTV's Design Star Challenge....I shamelessly watched every episode and routed for Bromstad. He always uses lots of color and has a distinctly contemporary style that was always clean and concise, which I love. Please avoid the temptation to make attractive male with large muscle and tattoo jokes...surely you can do better than that.

Anyway. Like I said, we've been watching a lot of this stuff lately. The cool thing about the two shows I mentioned is that in the case of "Design on a Dime" the design team often has to cut corners in order to come in under budget and they make a lot of original art pieces and refurbish a lot of furniture they find at second hand markets. Bromstad has an art background and often creates his own original art for the spaces, and always comes up with interesting and original ideas. It's a good time all around.

So, Katelyn and I were watching the other night and watched the DoaD team make over a huge room with really big long walls. They built a simple frame and nailed grosgrain ribbon strips to the back of the frame horizontally and then did the same thing vertically and then wove the strips together to make a basketweave pattern. Then they used it as a big simple, textural art piece.

The other project that caught my eye was a "cord cozy" that Bromstad made. He took simple muslin fabric and sewed it into a long tube to cover the cord on a hanging light fixture.

Something you should know is I love color. My couch is pear green, I have two armless chairs in a tangerine print, and my dining room chairs are covered in a jewel-tone turquoise. I have resisted the urge to put a ruby colored rug under said turquoise colored chairs on MULTIPLE occasions.

The problem with my apartment is that it is just that, an apartment. Which means I can't paint. So, there is a LOT of white. White walls, white cabinets, white appliances, white ceilings, white counter tops...white white white. White can be great...very chic, simple, elegant. This, however, is suburban sprawl white. Cheap drywall white. We-don't-want-to-overthink-this white. I hate it. So, I've been looking for ways to spice things up without paint (see above references to somewhat irreverent furniture choices). However, the walls are continuously problematic. So, unless I want to paint and then REPAINT the white (uh, I think not) before I move out, I have to find another solution.

In addition to the whiteness, I have been extremely frustrated by two things. Strike that. Three things. The first thing is I have this big, long, white wall in my apartment that is driving me crazy. Right now I have three tiny, badly styled shadow boxes that I put up about a year ago. They are way too small and have nothing to do with the rest of the decor in the room, and they don't cover up enough of the WHITE. I am totally obsessive compulsive. This means the above situation makes me crazy. Problem two: CORDS! Cords are the bane of my existence. TV, DVD, Cable, Stereo, Lamp, WHEN DOES THE MADNESS END?!? They are an eyesore, and no matter how I push, pull, wrap, and tuck, they always end up in the same mangled mess behind my awkwardly open entertainment center. Did I mention I'm obsessive compulsive? Problem three: I'm broke. Well, sort of, in that mid-level government job kind of way...You get the idea. Interior Design is Expensive.

So, today, I decided to take matters into my own hands (most of my friends are out of town, and the rest are recovering from Thanksgiving, Katelyn is out of town, and I have been spending too much time alone). I got in the car and headed to Seven Corners where there is a Michaels Crafts, a Joann Fabric, and a Home Depot all in the same complex. Essentially, a DIY Mecca.
After a few hours, I left the Holy City of home craftiness with over 80 yards of "Olive Drab" grosgrain ribbon, acrylic paint in robins egg blue, a full range of paint brushes, 3 yards of Muslin, two types of nails, and 4 planks of custom measured and cut kiln-dried pine (hardware store guys are SERIOUSLY so helpful!).

I spent the rest of the evening building my frame and stringing ribbon back and forth across it to make a huge basketwoven canvas of softly shimmering olive green. On the show, the team had a nail gun. While I am the proud owner of a brand new power drill (thanks Mom & Dad), I didn't think that would work very well on the fabric ribbon, and I don't own a nail gun...which is probably a good thing since hospital visits are expensive. So I pounded every single nail. Three to secure each corner of the frame, and two per ribbon strip. My rough estimates are about 188 nails. I think my neighbors are probably planning a full mutiny. I don't blame them. Oh well. So now I have a 6' x 3' custom art piece (MUCH better than the 10"x 10" shadow boxes full of curly raffia and potpourri flowers). I am hoping to finish it with some stenciled birds in robins egg blue on opposing corners. I promise to post pics of the finished product. Paint, brushes, ribbon, and lumber all cost me less than $60. Did I mention it's 6'x3'? Seriously. 18 square feet of custom basketwoven glory. Seriously.

It's cool. Trust me.

I started project number two by cutting and pinning the muslin. I'll just run a long seam up the edge and finish both ends and then I'll have my own "cord cozy" to hide the cord cacophony happening behind my shelves and chair. Hallelujah. I can hardly wait to finish it. Glorious Day.

Think this scrunchy cord cover, only hiding all of my ugly TV and cable cords.

Joy. I feel so much joy.

Project number three, although not started, is in the final conceptual phases, and should be pretty easy to complete, all I have to do is find a lumber yard... The plan is to get a big stump from the lumber yard that has been sawed off flat on top, cover it in several coats of paint (again, robins egg blue) and finish it with a high gloss lacquer to make a side table.

Think This Shape

With This Color
Seriously Can't Wait.

Yes, it's possible I'm having DIY visions of grandeur, but it's fun. I always forget how much I love making things myself. It's incredibly rewarding (when it all goes as planned, that is) to go out, collect different bits and pieces and then work with your own two hands to create something that is uniquely your own. Sometimes I wonder if the Reality TV craze has encouraged us to sit in our homes and watch other people cook, decorate, build, bake, design, sew, and create things. However, based on today's flurry of creative activity, I am happy to say that this is one case where TV actually inspired me to get of the couch and make something new and interesting...Hopefully it will all go as planned, and my apartment won't end up looking like an abandoned amusement park.

My thanks to HGTV for a couple of good ideas, and the assurance that color is your friend.


Friday, July 10, 2009

...And A Diet Coke

I hate starting these things out with apologies, but given the dearth of entries lately, I feel like I should.

So I'm sorry. There. I said it. I'm sorry I haven't been blogging and I'm sorry my life just hasn't been that interesting lately. I've also been "hanging out" with Facebook a lot, which has been, therefore, getting more play with my photos, etc. I'll try and be better.

Apology Over.

Time for the real reason for this post.

I went to the grocery store twice this week. Note* This. Never. Happens. Twice in a month...much more likely. I'm a fickle grocery store goer.
My attendance at the market, however, has been a good deal more regular as of late because of Safeway's sweet gas discount and the fact that they just put in a gorgeous new store that just happens to be on my way home from work. Fab.

So, I've started doing my grocery shopping on Mondays. I make my list towards the end of the work day, and then on my way home I stop in, get the week's supplies, and don't worry about it for the rest of the week. It's a pretty good system, if I do say so myself.

So, with my renewed commitment to regular grocery runs, I've also been making a concerted effort to only buy and make really good healthy food. I love this, and it makes me feel like a real human being, instead of a college student eating ramen on my couch for the third time in a week...not that I would still ever do that at 26...ahem....


So I made my weekly grocery run on Monday. Things I bought included fresh spinach, strawberries, tomatoes, bell peppers, snap peas, whole grain pasta, fresh fish and hummus. I felt so proud as I pushed my little cart full of actual adult human food through the store. Lovely.

On Wednesday, I had to make a grocery run to prep for a party that I am helping to throw for one of my best friends. She is turning 25 and so we decided to have a "Young At Heart" party. We themed it around all those great 80's and 90's morning cartoons, are setting up a Slip n' Slide, and there may or may not be a shaving cream fight.

For food, we decided to have kid stuff. Popsicles, watermelon, cake, etc. Since I was in charge of food, and was looking at a full schedule for the rest of the week I decided to get it done a few days early. Also, I needed to fill up my tank and was just a few dollars shy of my $.20 gas discount. Bless you, Safeway.

So, I went to the grocery store. This time I was much less proud of what ended up in my cart. Popsicles of 3 or 4 different varieties, chocolate pudding, Oreos, Cool Whip, gummy worms, a huge bag of mixed candy, chips, salsa, cream cheese, sour cream, and a frozen pizza (okay, that last one wasn't for the party, but a girl has to be prepared for the unexpected). I felt fatter just looking at the stuff, and prayed I wouldn't run into any really attractive looking fit people...they would judge me, I just knew it.

On my way out of the store, I realized that on Monday I had forgotten bread. My FAVORITE kind of bread is called Health Nut. It is called this because it is chock full of yummy grains and things. It is tasty. I buy it even though it is in that snobby double wrapped packaging. I don't care. It tastes good.

I ran to the back of the store, grabbed my Health Nut bread, and tossed it in my cart next to the Cool Whip and Oreos. I snagged a spot in line and started to check out.

I put my items on the belt. I am very conscious of the fact that people who bag groceries Just. Don't. Care. I don't blame them. Because of this, I make sure and put squishy things or things I don't want broken on the belt last. This means the grocery baggers don't actually have to think, and I don't end up with one huge lump of mashed bread.

So, of course, the last thing to go on the belt was my beloved Health Nut bread. The girl scanning my groceries was apparently paying more attention than I usually give credit to grocery store employees for paying, and when she picked up the bread and read the label she looked at it, then looked at my bags full of sugar and saturated fat laden foods, then looked at me with a face that said "Seriously? Nice Try."

The only thing I can compare it to is when you're standing behind that 300+ pound individual at any given fast food joint and you hear them say:
"I'll have a double bacon cheeseburger, a large fry, and an apple pie...Oh, and a Diet Coke."

Nice Try.

I thought about explaining myself. I thought about telling her that I am a devotee of fresh spinach and anything involving citrus. I thought about telling her how much fun the party was going to be because we were all going to act like little kids. Instead, I just smiled sheepishly and shrugged my shoulders.

I'm pretty sure there's no Safeway Inner Circle Club that I'll be denied membership from for trying to pose as a healthy eater when I'm a closet sugar addict. Even if there is...

Oh well.

Happy Friday to You and Yours!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Good Karma...

Karma Whitaker...

That was the name of the woman I met in the temple last night. She was little, and stooped and smiley. Her name was printed clearly on her white nametag.

Karma Whitaker.

It made me wish my name was Karma. Maybe it would remind me to be nicer to people at the grocery store, and to not yell when I drive, and to not leave my dirty dishes in the sink, or mutter things about my boss in my head that may or may not pass the PG-13 rating cut.

I doubt that Karma Whitaker is in charge of doling out much actual Karma. But I think, just in case, I will start trying to rack up more of the good kind of Karma. The Karma Whitaker kind of Karma. The soft, smiling, stooped kind of Karma that leaves you quite pleased with yourself at the end of a long, productive and happy life.

That's the kind of Karma I'm after.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Derby Girls...

Last weekend three of my favorite friends and I got in my Honda and drove to Louisville (pronounced Lo-ah-ville for those of you not in the know) for the 135th Kentucky Derby.We packed up the car and left Virginia at about 3:00pm. We had all-girls road trip mixes in the stereo, goodies in the cooler, and large, flamboyant hats proudly displayed in the rear window. We were on our way.
About 15 minutes later the traffic had slowed to a crawl, and we were nervous that it was going to be a very long trip--almost 1500 miles in 3 days. It was a bad sign seeing as how rush hour hadn't even hit yet. Suddenly we saw to our right a black bump that looked like part of a tire. On closer inspection we saw that it was a large black snake that looked like a cobra, but had no hood. We watched it as we passed by and wondered where it had come from and how it had managed to survive its journey thus far. In India, it is an omen of success to see a snake crawling about in the road before you. Little did we know that the snake we saw within the first 30 minutes of our trip would portend a huge road trip success.

The traffic cleared shortly after we saw the snake and we drove straight through--with the exception of a very abbreviated stop at the shadiest Arby's I have ever seen--and stopped for the night in Lexington, about an hour away from Louisville. The next morning we woke up and got dolled up for the Derby.
We really didn't know what to expect. It was our first time at the Derby. We had tickets for the infield, the large grassy area in the center of the track. We managed to stake out a spot amongst several large groups of men. They found us delightful. Incidentally, the more mint juleps they consumed, the more delightful we became. I don't know what I was expecting, but it was less "My Fair Lady" and the Ascot Races and more "Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby." Think NASCAR...only with less, um, horsepower.

So, the following is a little documentation of our derby experience.
Jen and Michelle were so happy to be at the derby!

As it turns out, hugging while wearing large hats is hard...It's okay, we worked it out

Someone placed this lovely sticker on Michelle's bum. It says "I Got Lucky With Someone From Kentucky" Looks like someone was hoping they'd be lucky enough to get that close to Michelle!

I don't think we will be shocked by anything after the Derby

Other stickers we saw that day included one that said "Talk Derby to Me." While the Derby was full of new and interesting sights and adventures, we were constantly amazed at the sheer number of MEN that we saw. They were everywhere. Huge groups of them. Hunting Buddies. Frat Boys. Office Associates. Family Groups. Biker Gangs. The odd thing was that these groups were lacking one thing that usually goes hand in hand with groups of men...Women. Not one. Even stranger was that these groups of men were HOT. I'm not trying to be shallow, but seriously. I know where all the attractive men have been hiding...KENTUCKY! Unfortunately, sorting them into "sober" and "not sober" categories would have taken days. So we were forced to just enjoy the eye candy.

The Twin Spires of Churchill Downs

Jen and I bet on the ponies. We know we shouldn't have, but we did it anyway. Too bad we didn't put any money on "Mine That Bird"...50:1 odds...Wow.

Anne made fresh chicken salad sandwiches. What is more Derby than fresh chicken salad and coke?

The men next to us tried to by us drinks. All three groups of them. On a couple of different occasions. This led to an interesting opportunity to discuss why we didn't drink, where we went to school, and how we really were just there to have a good time, yes, without alcohol. They were fascinated. One of them wanted to marry Anne. Right then and there. She was "the most beautiful woman [he] had ever seen." By the time we left he "Didn't think he didn't want to never see [her] again." That was probably 4 or 5 mint juleps later. Go figure.

It's all about the Hats.

After the Derby we drove to Charleston, West Virginia and spent the night. Charleston is a cute little mining town with a beautiful capitol building and adorable historic district. We slept in, ate waffles at the hotel and then wandered around taking pictures at the capitol.

Anne, Michelle and Jen in front of the Capitol.

One of my Besties!

Midge and Jen fooling around at the capitol.

One of my all time favorite pics of Michelle.

After enjoying the scenery in Charleston, we drove to Jen's home...Miller Farm, nestled in a little valley just over the Virginia/West Virginia state line. There we had one of the most amazing lunches on record with Mama and Papa Miller and the crew. Farm fresh pork roast, mashed potatoes, hot biscuits, and fresh-picked morels. We were in heaven. After dinner we helped feed the bum-calf, saw the pigs, and enjoyed the fresh mountain air. Made me miss home. After a long and sad goodbye to Miller Farm and all its charms, we drove the rest of the way home and back into the real world. A safe end to a very successful and memorable trip.

I love these girls. They are a priceless part of what makes my life so wonderful. Thanks for an amazing weekend, ladies.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Memo on Noisy Avian Lovemaking...

Dear Birds,

In the interest of our future relationship and my personal sanity I feel it is important to address the following issue outright.

I appreciate the difficulty of finding love in this day and age. It is not easy. I cannot imagine it being any easier if you are a Swallow, or a Thrush, or a Dove. Finding a mate is no easy task. Trust me, I know.

I can only imagine the ecstasy one must feel at finally having found "The One." A truly miraculous occurence, no doubt.

However, this does not negate the fact that whilst the better part of your kind are in the throes of springtime joy, there are others of us who are trying to carry on with the general day-to-day of it all.

In short, what I'm trying to say is if we could keep the pre-5am amorous chirping to a minimum (and by minimum I am implying total and complete elimination) that would be fantastic. It's not that I don't appreciate the springtime miracle unfolding outside my window, it's just that I would rather not have to wake up to it before the sun has even considered rousting itself out of its bed.

In conclusion, I think we can make this relationship work. You keep the announcement of early morning lovemaking quiet, and I, in turn, will keep an eye on my neighbor's cat. I also believe such an arrangement will prevent sleep deprivation on my part. This is good for you in that it will prevent me from having a psychotic break from reality which may or may not cause me to throw rocks at your nest come summer. It's your call.

Very Respectfully,


Monday, May 4, 2009

Go, Humans, Go!

Saw THIS on the side of a bus this morning as I was walking to work in the rain...again.

I can't tell if I should be encouraged by the Quaker man, or if he is taunting me as he rushes by, splashing dirty street water on my shoes.

Maybe I should just take the subliminal message for what it is and start eating more Oatmeal.

I still think that mostly I dislike being told what to do...particularly by a smirking Quaker man plastered to the side of a Mass Transit vehicle.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Universe Hates Me: Part Duh...

I like to take care of my body.

I work out, I eat right, and I get enough sleep if that is humanly possible.

But, SOMETIMES you just get a craving. And I, personally, think it's okay to give in to those cravings every once in a while.

So today, when I was REALLY craving a nice, juicy burger I decided to forego my usual lunch- time salad and hit the grill. I figured I was justified...I ran 10 miles on Sunday, and had to skip lunch on I've got a few calories to spare.

So, I went to the grill. Grabbed my burger and fries and headed back to the desk, probably more excited than I should have been about a burger...especially one from the cafeteria.

When I unwrapped said burger, what I got was not the warm, juicy piece of American beef I had been hoping for...but something that looked a good deal more like a hocky puck, or a charcoal briquette, than something for actual consumption.


Fine Universe. You Win. Lesson Learned.

Dang, I hate it when you're right.