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.