Thursday, December 13, 2012

That's a Wrap

You want to know the downside of pinterest? One, you spend so much time looking at projects that you now no longer have time to do them.  And two, things sometimes don't end up looking as they do in the picture.  I was inspired by the pinterest pictures of items wrapped in brown craft paper, with beautiful bows, lace, etc., so this was my attempt to do the same.  While this project wasn't a complete failure, it did take longer than I expected.

I liked the idea of getting the brown craft paper for wrapping because it is less expensive and more versatile.  However, in order to keep it from looking like something the UPS man just dropped off, I tried to get creative.  I also didn't want to lose all the cost-savings by buying too much ribbon and lace, so I just got one roll of shiny stretchy stuff from target, and used up some red and green fabric scraps I already had on hand.

I tried to make fabric poms by following similar instructions to this tutorial.  Instead of yarn though, I just made fabric strips about a centimeter wide and used 3-5 depending on the length.  At first I just used scissors to cut the fabric, but liked the look (plus had straighter lines) when I tore the fabric.  Just a warning though, some fabric is easier to rip than others (ie: anything too thick or too soft will be tough).

Since the poms took longer than I thought, I also just used fabric strips as you would ribbon and sometimes added the shiny stuff from target.  Since I did a lot of it while watching Christmas movies, I didn't mind the time it took, but I kind of have a feeling my packaging will just go downhill from here.  Hopefully this provides some inspiration for you during the Christmas season!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

"The most wonderful time of the year..." I love Christmas.  The lights, the pine, shopping, eating, tradition, family and friends - I love it all! And hopefully I'll be sharing more of my highlights in days to come.  However, this year, maybe more than other years, I've been more keenly aware that it isn't all joy and cheer for everyone.  Sometimes Christmas is not the most wonderful time of the year.  Sometimes Christmas reminds us of what we lost, who we don't have, and ways we hurt.  Heartbreak still occurs during the holidays, making the contrast all the more striking.

Maybe that's why the words to one of my favorite carols gave me pause: "Rejoice."  Why? In each verse, the reason to rejoice isn't because of the presents, reindeer, snow or anything else associated with commercialized Christmas.  No, the present time being sung about is "lonely exile," "gloomy clouds," and "the path to misery!"  And I know some of us have been there or are there.  So why rejoice?  I don't think we're supposed to gloss over trails and put on a fake smile because it is Christmas.  We live in a fallen world.  Because of it we experience hardship, death, and relationships that aren't as God created them to be, and we mourn the effects of sin. 

But, there will be an end.  That is the reason we celebrate Christmas.  "Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel."  What a good reminder this song was to me that Christ is what we have to rejoice about.  And unlike the Israelites being sung about, we are not just rejoicing at the thought of a Savior yet to come, he has already come!  We already know the story of Christ's birth, death, and resurrection. We already know that we have a Savior, that the trials will come to an end, and that there is more for us than this fallen world.  "For unto you is a born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11)  What a reason to rejoice!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

San Fransisco

So my husband and I just got back from an extended weekend to San Fransisco (though as I was packing, I realized it was closer to a week).  While waiting at an airport at some point within the last year we decided to make a list of places we wanted to go and also prioritize the ones we needed to do before kids.  San Fran was on the top of my hubby's list.  I had been there on a family road trip and thought it was fun enough to go back and also to experience as a couple.

We spent the first day walking around Chinatown, heading up Coit tower and walking up Lombard Street.  You know, typical tourist stuff.  We had a delicious Turkish dinner at Machka, whose decor I liked equally as well as the food.

Day two was also pretty touristy.  We rented bikes and biked across the Golden Gate Bridge as well as Golden Gate Park.  Two lessons learned: biking really close to cars going 60mph is not fun. It is terrifying.  It took about the entire length of the bridge for me to start breathing normally, unclench my jaw and get blood circulating in my hands again after gripping the handle bars so tightly.  I just couldn't help but imagine the whole time that a bump I didn't see was going to send me flying into the cars, or something that was not securely zippered was going to fly out of my pocket to the bay below, never to be seen again.  That is actually what happened to my transit pass, but thankfully not my phone.  (Side note: this is why I am also getting over my fear of walking over sewer grates.  It's really a legitimate fear that you will drop something in them or that they will break and you will plummet to a tragic doom.  I know people that have had those experiences.  Biking along this bridge was like that to me just way way worse.)  And the second lesson was that dang, those hills are really hard to walk and bike up.  You know that I just ran a marathon, but that did not at all prepare my hill climbing muscles.  After about 5 hours, the magic of biking had worn off slightly, but the day was still amazing due to one of the best biscuits and gravy dishes I've ever had at the Pork Store Cafe in the Haight district for brunch and Aziza in far away Richmond.  I think we capped off the night with drinks at the Top of the Mark, which while it did have great views of the city, was a little touristy/gimmicky to me.

Day three was full of more tourist activities and eating.  We rented a car and spent some time hiking in the Muir Woods.  All that activity made me feel really good about eating what was literally the best pasta I've ever had at Flour + Water.  (I know, I've used a lot of superlatives, but I really like pasta, and it was really that good.)  Because the weather was surprisingly warm, we took an evening walk around Union Square and rode the cable car to Fisherman's Wharf.  I was a little sad that because it was dark, there really wasn't a good way for me to get a picture hanging off of the side of the cable car kind of how I picture it would happen in some sort of movie montage. Probably for the best as I'd have lost my grip while cresting a hill and then would have had a long a fall.

Our last full day was kind of the "catch-up" day.  Plus after all that activity, we were kind of pooped.  We basically shopped for some of the things that had caught our eye and spent the rest of the day eating our way through the ethnic areas of town.  We started the morning with pastries from a bakery in little Russia, coffee, and a snack from Tout Sweet, the bakery from Top Chef Just Desserts winner (the chocolate chunk sea salt cookie was one of the best cookies I think I've ever had).  We did some shopping in Hayes Valley where we split a burger at Flipper's, whose toppings were better than the burger itself.  Dinner was at a hole-in-the-wall type Vietnamese restaurant, Pagolac.  The waitress was so nice and the best Vietnamese dinner I think I've ever had was under $10 each.  If you go to San Fransisco, please go there because I think it was my favorite meal of the trip.  Not to miss out on the remaining cultural areas, we got sushi for a snack in Japantown (hey, dinner was early), and cannoli in Little Italy at Mara's Italian Pastry.  I think all we missed out on was Mexican in the Mission District.  The perfect way to end the last night was drinks at Bourbon and Branch, a "speakeasy" type place with a secret entrance and bar tenders who know more about their craft than I will know about anything.

If I ever go back again, I'd really like to do the California Academy of Sciences, some of the gardens (Japanese Tea Garden, Yerba Buena Gardens, or the Conservatory of flowers), as well as some of the art museums (deYoung or the MoMA).  As far as eating recommendations, I basically went off anything on the list as well as recommendations from other blogs and friends.  Because I'm crazy and did this for myself anyways, I've actually compiled a list of neighborhoods and restaurants and addresses based off these sources that you can also access in case anyone cares as much as I do about these things.

As far as where to stay, our location downtown was central enough to get to most places we went within a 10-15 minute walk or public transit to anywhere farther (Haight, Golden Gate, Mission).  If we were to come back again, I think I'd stay farther away from tourist stuff and closer to eating (Tenderloin or Mission).  Of course, 5 days doesn't make me an expert.  Although it is long enough for me to say with some authority that, you guessed it, this city has some of the best food ever.

Monday, November 5, 2012

26.2 done

So it's done. Marathon over. 26.2 or actually according to my GPS device 26.9 for me.  (I've heard courses are measured on the inside track, so unless you are far enough ahead of the crowd you can hug all the turns, it ends up being longer.)  I finished in 4:23, so I was extremely happy with that.  I know most people can run faster (in fact 50% of the people in my age group can), but I think because my husband kept telling me that I could go faster than I thought I could, I did.  My family told me that I looked great although I've seen the pictures, so I know they are just incredibly loving.

I don't think you can actually even see me in this picture, but it is my favorite one from the day because you can see how crazy and supportive my mom is when she saw me.

Some of my favorite things from the race were creative signs the spectators held out ("If Obama can run, so can you", "You run better than metro", "This was a good idea 4 months ago"), awesome fan and community support (including someone handing beer out at about mile 24), and although it sounds cheesy, the pride it gave me in our military and our nation's capital.  Plus, I got a really cool medal at the end and didn't feel guilty about not exercising all week.

Will I do it again? There were definitely times at miles 20-25 that I thought "never again."  Now that it's over though, I have toyed around with the idea.  Maybe if it weren't for all the time that goes into training!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Flower Files: White Spring Wedding

Growing up my mom used to take me around her yard, quizzing me on what types of flowers were in her garden.  Although I have living houseplant for more than a few months, her love of gardening had to rub off on me somehow.  Due to my love (or rather, my mom's love) for flowers, I have developed a hobby of arranging wedding flowers.

Kari, the sister of a friend of mine, had a beautiful but simple wedding and the flowers she chose certainly reflected that!  She got married at the beautiful Shade Tree and Evergreen in Frederick, MD.  Her bridesmaids carried small white tulip bouquets and she had a mix of white tulips, rananculus, and calla lilies.  They were beautifully captured by Kristen Thomas Photography.  Kari reminds me of my own younger sister in some ways so it was an extra joy to be part of their special day!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Lessons Learned while Marathon Training

Due to a series of fortunate and unfortunate events, I am running my first marathon in less than two weeks.  It's the Marine Corp Marathon, which is supposed to be a good one for beginners.  For all the other beginners out there, here are some tips I have learned along the way:

  • Don't run a marathon unless you want to spend your entire weekend running, or thinking about how you have to spend so much time running.  I lazily put off my "long runs" (such a relative term), for Sunday mornings, which inevitably means I spend the entire day Saturday dreading the run, and then the entire day Sunday actually running.  "Alright honey, I'll see you IN FOUR HOURS.  What's that? My mom wants to take me out for lunch? I can't because even if I leave at 8 am, I won't be able to meet mom until dinner time."  Obviously, your significant other needs to be on board since you will no longer be available for golfing, brunch, or anything else more fun and relaxing.
  • Don't run a marathon if you want to look good.  I know other people can do it, but seriously, I do not look good while running.  It's not that I can't also wear cute, matchy running outfits, but I really don't see a point in buying matching stuff when the non-matching stuff I already have will do.  Also, in order to keep my hair out of my face, my body running on proper nutrition and hydration, I wear a bright blue sweat band to hold my hair back and my navy blue shorts with bulging pockets filled with snacks, holding a water bottle in one hand and ipod in the other, hair going crazy despite my sweatband.  Add leggings under my shorts for cold days and the fact that sometimes I trip and you get the picture.
  • Don't run a marathon if you want to lose weight.  I was a little excited when I started training at the though of getting in what I though would be the best shape ever of my life.  Turns out that all that running makes me really hungry - as in I am hungry all the time for the next THREE DAYS after my longer runs.  Another pitfall for me is that for some reason when I have 2-3 miles left to go, I start thinking about how good a donut would taste.  I blame it on the fact that my body actually does need to have refined carbs and sugars at that point (so I've heard).  However, because of this, I have actually ended one of my runs by going straight to the cupcake bakery by our house.  Needless to say, I have not lost noticeable weight and potentially have been gaining.
  • Do have a good playlist. I am telling you this because I do not.  Since it's a little hard to always be shuffling through songs on the go, I end up listening to either the Beastie Boys or TobyMac every weekend for hours because I need something with a beat and they are the only "rap" music I have.  They were good choices for a few weeks, but they are also now in my top most played itunes list.  I am kind of wishing I had thought to load an audio book onto my ipod as I could have learned a new language by now.

I often wonder to myself how this became a hobby for so many thousands of people when the event is named after the legendary Greek runner who ran so hard to deliver the message that the Battle of Marathon was won that he died.  I also often wonder why this is a hobby for me in particular when my goal for finishing is simply not to die.  Well, that and to beat that girl whose matching outfit is so my  cuter than mine.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bed Head(board)

Do you ever find that one not-too-well-planned project just leads to another and by the end, all this DIY-ing isn’t worth it?  Happens to me more often than not.  This was one of the few attempted projects that actually was relatively easy from start to finish and didn’t involve more work than bargained for.

It all started when Jason and I went up to Baltimore to clean out a storage unit of his that he had from before we were married.  We both moved a ton in the year leading up to our wedding so now that we’re relatively settled (as in we’ll stay at least 6 months), it was time to clear it out.  We stuffed a U-haul and the jeep full of everything and just had a few things to drop off at the dump before heading out.  Ironically, as he was dropping stuff off at the dump, I noticed we had parked next to a warehouse called “Overstock Outlet.”  It looked like the perfect place to get my craft on, so we browsed a bit.  It’s like the law of the conservation of energy, you know? (Do you know? Or am I revealing my nerdiness too soon?)  As soon as we get rid of something, we just pick up something else so it’s always at a constant level.

Anyways, Overstock Outlet seemed mostly full of stuff out of old hotels: mirrors, tables, frames and headboards.  The last two of which I thought I might actually be able to use!  Neither I nor Jason has really had a proper bed for the last ten years.  We've just had the mattress frame and mattresses, but being married now made us grown-ups, so it was about time to have a proper headboard (or maybe the implication goes the other way? Having a headboard makes us real grown-ups?).  Unfortunately, they only had full size and king size headboards. Our bed is a queen, but the guy working there convinced us the king would only stick out a couple inches.  I figured it was cheap enough that if we really hated it or just didn’t want to keep it forever, I wouldn’t have any regrets, so I think we walked away with a headboard for something like $20 and 6 frames for another $20.  Good thing we had a U-haul.

Because the back was just held together by a few screws/clamps, it didn’t look like it be too hard to unscrew the padded parts, repaint and reupholster.  I think because I planned on using a staple gun, I can use the word “reupholster,” which makes it sound fancy, but honestly, it wasn’t.  If I can do this, I think anyone can.  

The hardest part really was choosing fabric I liked. The one I really liked was also (of course) the most expensive, but I went for it since I really only needed a yard.  I got it from Joanne’s and since it’s impossible to get to a convenient fabric store in the city, just had it shipped, which was a little scary not to be able to test it!

I followed these basic steps:

-Measure as best as you can how much fabric you will need (erring on the side of a few extra inches). I’d recommend a relatively sturdy fabric such as “upholstery fabric.”

-I washed, dried and ironed the fabric just to be sure any shrinkage, ink bleeding, etc. happened before it was forever stapled.

-Unscrew padded parts from the back of the headboard.  (Or if you are lucky, have your husband/man do it.  Not that girls can’t.)

-Stretch tightly and staple along edges.  Be sure to staple far enough to the side so staples don’t show when you put that part back.

-Sand and paint frame.  Let dry 24 hours.

-Screw the upholstered panels back in.

Here is the before picture:

There were actually a ton of layers of fabric underneath when we unscrewed it. I tried to remove the staples and layers of fabric, but it was actually really hard, actually impossible for me to do.

So I just had to try to staple far enough in to not be on the old staples, but not so far in they would show when it was reattached.
When working with a geometric pattern you may need to pay more attention than with solids to ensure that the fabric is straight and you won’t have a skewed pattern (though it may not bother you as much as it would me).  Once I was done, I kind of wished I’d lined up the two pieces of fabric so that the pattern started at the same place on both sides.  Oh well.. next time.

This brings us to the frame, which basically the only thing we did to it was paint it with some sample paint that I bought when trying to decide on wall colors.  It’s Behr’s “Subtle Touch” which is really really light grey, but was close enough to white for me.  It took two coats. I wish we had sanded the frame before painting to smooth it out and help the paint to be sure to stick, but it hasn’t chipped yet.

Because the frame is actually a bit bigger than the bed, Hubs had to drill a couple holes to be able to attach it to the bed frame. After 24 hours of drying, we reattached the upholstered parts.  And the final product!

Overall, I am thrilled with how it turned out.  We just need a bigger bed to fit it now.  Oh well, at least we have room for our side tables.