Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Damp no more.

Ahh the sweet, sweet sound of (jackhammering) home improvment.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

All framed up.

Ashton made me a set of truly beautiful note cards for my birthday a few years ago.  Each one has a custom designed fabric dress.  They were, quite simply, too beautiful to use as note cards (I didn't want to give them away!).

I'd been wanting to frame them for a long time, but knew that it would have to be custom and didn't want to spend the money.  Then the stars aligned (read: Michael's was having a 60% off custom framing sale and my Mom came into town and brought with her great ideas) and my long-awaited idea finally became a reality.

Now I've just got to figure out where to hang them.  Someday if we have a daughter I'll hang them in her room, but for now I am thinking of hanging them in the basement near Blake's framed matchbox car collection as as sort of masculine/feminine comparison. 

I'm absolutely smitten by them and couldn't be more thrilled to finally be able to showcase them in my home.

Thanks again, Ashton!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The first time Saturday is the worst day of the week.

Saturday is usually my favorite day of the week: sleep in, putter around the house in pajamas for a while, eat a big breakfast/brunch, relax...but this past Saturday was the anti-Saturday Saturday.  Let me give you a breakdown:

-Wake up at 8:00 a.m. to a pounding on the door.  Jump out of bed thinking it's the contractor arriving early.  Repeatedly and unsuccessful try to stuff my dead/asleep arm into my sweatshirt while answering Blake's groggy "whhaaaat?" with "he's here...he's here...the guy...the guy..."

-Race down to the door and discover that it was not the contractor.

- Lay back down in bed, flustered, confused and unable to get back to sleep.

- Wake up to 8:30 Marimba alarm to get ready for the waterproofing contractor scheduled to come between 9:00 - 10:00.

-Wait for four hours while contractor doesn't show up.

- Paint basement puppet theater and get intoxicated with fumes from the decidedly high-VOC magnetic primer.

- Shower quickly, but forgo washing hair for the fourth day in a row due to perpetual lateness.

- Drive carefully to Mr. Tire on gimpy spare and almost-flat front passenger side tire for 2:30 appointment.

- Listen as the assistant manager declares that they will not honor warranty or road hazard insurance because the cause of two flats on relatively new tires is unknown.

- Listen to Blake and said assistant manager argue about warranty and other issues.

- Sit for 4.5 hours in Mr. Tire with Blake and nothing to do. 

- Get stomach-ache and headache from smelling horrible rubber smell for 4.5 hours.

- Get stressed enough to declare that any more time in Mr. Tire would result in a self-indulging J.Crew and Dunkin' Donut shopping spree.

- Pay a fortune for two new tires and a re-alignment. 

- Think about how many nice things could be bought at J.Crew with this fortune.

- Drive home too tired and upset to do anything except pick up a pizza, put on pajamas, and veg in front of the TV for the rest of the evening.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The one in which we're rescued by two burly men.

I thought the day was going well when I headed home early from work to wait for Washington Gas to come install a new meter reader and they actually came on time.  You know how all utilities like to seize control of your life and schedule by giving you a three hour window?  Well, my window was 4:00 - 7:00 p.m. and the guy actually came at 4:30.  And was in and out in less than 10 minutes!  You heard that right: a serviceman showed up on the early-side of the window and actually came and left without any trouble or trying to up-sell me anything. 

Like I said, the afternoon was going mighty fine.

Then, at 6:45 when I went to pick up Blake from the metro and then head to dinner with friends, everything took a turn for the worse.  It is probably a three minute drive from our house to the metro kiss-and-ride, but somehow in that three minutes I managed to get a flat (VERY FLAT) tire on the front driver's side.

As I turned onto the main road to cross the intersection by our house, I started to feel a horrible shuddering/scraping and hear a screeching/scratching/rumbling coming from the car.  I felt like I was driving the space shuttle circa 1970.  It was that loud and bumpy. 

Pedestrians walking home from the metro were turning to watch me cross the intersection as sparks were flying from under the car and a sound akin to a jackhammer assaulted their ears.

I felt trapped.  There's nowhere to pull over (unless I wanted to block an entire lane of traffic).  The next block felt like an eternity, but I had no choice.

I pulled into the kiss-and-ride as quickly as I could into the spot nearest the road, stopped the car, jumped out, and investigated.

Flat as a pancake.  And giving off a rubbery-smelling smoke.

I had been driving on my rims for the last block.  I hate to think of the ruts I must have left in the street along the way.

As I frantically called Blake, I noticed a man walking towards me.  It was the young, clean-cut driver of the temple shuttle.  He ran up to see if I needed help and told me he could hear me coming all the way down the street. Perfect.  (And that, my friends, proves that Mormons really are the nicest!)

I told Mr. Temple Van Driver that we'd be fine and my husband would be there momentarily.  Well, turns out that we probably should have used his help.

The bolts on the wheel were so tight that we couldn't get them to budge. 

We tried for 15 minutes, called our friends to reschedule dinner, and then called AAA.

They routed us first through Northern California, then, when we explained we were in Washington DC, they routed us through Washington State (of course), and then finally to Maryland.  It took about 15 minutes just to talk to the right person.  We were told that it would be another 45 minutes before someone could get to us.

So we went back out into the 20 degree weather to have another go at it.  (Did I mention that I'd left my gloves at home because I didn't think I'd be outside.  Perfect.  Frozen claw hands.)  No luck for another 5 minutes.

Then, the heavens parted and two men that were meeting up at the metro took pity on us and came over to investigate.  Turns out they were mechanics.  Big, all-knowing mechanics.  What are the odds?

With some finagling, they had the offending tire off and replaced with our spare with ease.  Our spare that also turned out to be rather flat.

Luckily it was not quite flat enough that we couldn't drive on it.  We made it around the corner to the nearest gas station and filled the spare before crossing our fingers and heading for home. 

We were cold, stressed and tired.  So, after telling Blake that I was never driving alone, anywhere, ever again, we ended tried to mend what was left of the evening by ordering Chinese.  Takeout is always a good consolation prize.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fill it up. Pin it up.

My weekend girls' trip to Charleston got cancelled at the last minute, so I had an unexpectedly productive weekend.  Friday night I picked up an ugly bulletin board from Target for $9.34 and spent an hour transforming it into a linen and nail-head pinboard courtesy of an idea I spotted in a design magazine and some left-over materials from other projects I had hanging out in our basement. 

Blake helped me hang it (I'm nothing if not horrible at centering/leveling/measuring things) and, there you have it, an under $10.00, under an hour project to fill that horrible blank wall in the study that's been staring me in the face for the past two years. 

Remember how I said that gestational period for my projects is usually about ten months?  Well, this project (from idea to completion) took only a day, but my desire to put something on that wall has been haunting me since we moved into the house. Now, where does that put me in terms of a project timeline?

Friday, January 13, 2012

The A to your Q

Due to the overwhelming response to yesterday's challenge (italics dripping with sarcasm, of course) I thought I'd post the answer:

That beautiful gilded ceiling is found in The Warner Theater downtown Washington, D.C. 

I always love going in there because it feels much more like a palace you'd find three blocks from Notre Dame rather than a theater found three blocks away from the White House. Ornate ceilings are a lost art.

Blake and I saw The Nutcracker at the Warner just before Christmas.  It was glorious (though, admittedly, the male dancers make Blake too uncomfortable for him to thoroughly enjoy the show). I am hoping that we can make it a yearly tradition. Nothing feels quite so Christmas-y as the Nutcracker.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Quest

I'll give you ten points (and will forevermore be impressed with you) if you can guess where this ceiling is:

It's beautiful, don't you think?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


My in-laws house is always decorated beautifully, but I especially love it at Christmas.  These photos don't really do it justice (I stole them from Blake's phone), but I was too busy enjoying myself to take too many photos. 

I'm having a fun time remembering Christmas Eve: a perfect salmon dinner, lots of baked treats, a concert (complete with choreographed dance moves to "Let it Snow") by the kiddos, the annual nativity, discussing the likelihood of Santa being real with some of the older curious kids, and watching the excitement on their faces as they opened gifts. 

One of my favorite things about Christmas is listening to and chatting with the kids.  They always have the funniest things to say.  This year my favorite kid-ism came not from my nieces and nephews, but from one of our 12-year-old Sunday school kids.

Blake and I taught a Christmas-themed lesson a week before Christmas.  We had some extra time at the end and the kids were getting obnoxious and loud (in such a way as only those middle-school-aged kids can be), so I read them my favorite Christmas story: The Other Wise Man.  My family reads The Other Wise Man every year on Christmas Even in addition to Luke 2.  It's a beautifully told and beautifully illustrated story.

After two pages the kids were hooked.  They pulled their chairs in close and, miraculously, closed their mouths.  They were unusually quiet right up until the point where Herod sends his troops to kill all of the babies.  At this point there was some interjection from the heretofore silent peanut gallery.
 Christian interrupted: "wait! wait! Herod killed all the babies?!" 
Me: "Yes, Christian, he did.  Horrible, right?" 
Christian: In a shocked tone "Well, I hope he goes to HELL!"
Tate: scandalized "Christian! We don't say HELL, we say HECK!"
Me: Trying to stifle a giggle "um, ok, let's just continue on with the story..."

Man I love those kids.  They always keep me entertained.

It's amazing how far behind in life I've gotten due to my nasty battle with strep over the break. Alas. I'll catch up someday. Sooner or later the un-written ideas in my head and the dust/hair bunnies tumbling across my floors will force me into fully catching up to the present.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Taking a break with the wee elves.

It's going to be a crazy week this week, but I had to take a quick break from the madness to look back at some of my pictures from Christmas.  I made these Santa/Elves props for our Christmas party and ended up bringing them to our family Christmas Eve party to entertain the kiddos.  They (Right: Ella, Coco and Sidney. Left: James and Jack) had a great time posing as Santa in front of the Christmas tree. 

I think my favorite part was trying to direct them how to hold the beards and hats: no James, the beard goes over your mouth and chin...not up over your eyebrows...but close...well, close enough...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Remember how I planned to spend my time off making my way through this list of things to get paid for while I wasn't working?

Well, some of the cute kidlets were sick at Christmas Eve dinner...so I was sick two days later.  Strep throat is never fun, but at least it can be cured with a quick round of Zythromax, a comfy bed, and a stack of movies. 

So besides sniffling, drinking tea, taking meds and waiting to be less uncomfortable, here's what I actually accomplished over my break:

- Going to the temple with my Blake and having a Cafe Rio lunch with old friends
Yep. Did both of those things on Christmas Eve eve.  It was fun to see Scott & Kirby and fun to try the new Cafe Rio location in Arlington.  We even got a free meal, which is never a bad thing.

- Going to a pre-Christmas kickoff
We briefly made it out of our post-Cafe Rio food coma in time to head to a party hosted by some friends from church.  There must have been 30 kids there running around having a great time...and that made it all the more festive.

- Cooking and baking galore
I got a little bit carried away baking for Christmas eve dinner.  I made homemade oreos, a french lemon tart, spiral sugar cookies, chocolate chip meringues and chocolate and caramel dipped marshmallows.  I have a sugar hangover just thinking about it.

- Eating, eating and more eating
Check, check, and triple check.

- Wrapping and subsequently opening presents
Wrapping presents is one of my favorite things to do and I had a wonderful time doing it this year.  I treated myself to several different kinds of paper, ribbons and tags and had a grand old time listening to music, watching Christmas movies, and creating Christmas masterpieces.

- Watching my nieces and nephews perform the nativity
There was surprisingly little crying.  We even had a Joseph this year thanks to a flannel shirt and a quickly drawn beard on Sidney.  It was as cute as ever. 

- Celebrating Christmas Eve and Christmas day with Blake's family
Christmas is always so fun with kids.  We had a big dinner, presents and the nativity with all the nieces and nephews, then woke up late on Christmas, went to church and finally opened presents around 3:00 p.m.  My how things have changed since the early days of waking up at 5:30 to bother my parents into letting us open gifts.

- Sharing in the kids' anticipation of Santa
Most of them still believe.  And the ones who don't are still so excited for Christmas that it doesn't dampen the spirit of anticipation.

- Chatting with my family on the phone
The darn time difference makes this difficult, but we had a great time chatting.

- Watching multiple movies at home and at the theater
We saw Sherlock Holmes (two thumbs way down! super boring!) and MI4 (two thumbs, surprisingly, way up!) in the theaters, watched Midnight in Paris twice (Blake got it for me for Christmas) and filled in the other time with episodes of Castle, The Dead Zone, and rental movies.

- Painting my toenails (because it's vacation and I have time to be luxurious)
Didn't do this one.  Oh well.

- Picking out and installing a new bathroom light fixture (hopefully)
Check.  I'll post pictures soon.  The bathroom is a like-new, light-flooded, room.  I could hardly believe it!  And for less than $40.00!  It was definitely one of those things that made us both wonder why we'd waited so long to do it.

- Painting the guest bathroom, guest room and downstairs puppet theater
I painted the guest bathroom, but didn't get to either of the other two projects.  In my sickness-induced stupor it took me two loooong days of painting just to do the tiny bathroom.  I probably shouldn't have done that (hindsight is much clearer than strep-throat clouded sight), but it looks so good that I have no regrets.  Once we added the new light fixture and bought some bright white towels it looked like a brand new space.  We've definitely classed up the joint.

- Staying in my pajamas for a long as I want to
Sickness = pajamas.  End of story.  Poor Blake had to deal with seeing me only in PJs or painting clothes (which are worse...much worse) for a week straight.  I think he'd forgotten that I clean up ok.  In fact, I think I'd forgotten that I clean up ok. 

Now it's back to reality.  I've finished my round of antibiotics and Blake should be starting his today (I am feeling extremely guilty for sharing this particular Christmas gift with him).  Wish us luck.