Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Something Blue Necklaces

Laid out on wax paper, drying and not looking very well staged... I unveil the glass tile necklaces for my Something Blue Brigade!

Just want directions without the random chatter... scroll on down to the bottom...

First off, the group does not have 30 ladies in it. That would be overkill... and crazy.  The group does consist of my closest girlfriends and family members. I chose some designs to specifically suit the wearer and some designs to be universally pretty so that there were options for those who already have an outfit in mind or want something they can wear again.  The process was pretty simple once I got started, but you will definitely want to snag a video tutorial on this project.

I started with the kit from Papernpearls on Etsy.  That really is the easiest way to go and the customer service is fabulous!  At first I wanted to snag scrapbook paper with fabulous blue patterns, but I quickly realized I really wanted them to be as unique as the ladies who would be wearing them.  I scoured the internet for blue fabrics, patterns, wallpapers, and random images. For my cousin who is into the cosplay scene, a Captain America star from the center of the costume.  For my soon to be sister in law who loves Dr. Who, a Tardis. The possibilities are endless and you can really find fun ways to represent each woman in a way she will appreciate.  I wrapped mine up in inexpensive favor boxes with a piece of navy blue felt and mailed them to their new owners with a handwritten note and a page on the joys of the Something Blue Brigade. 

TUTORIAL

Things you will need: 
  • glass tiles
  • bails (hooks for the back)
  • paper or fabric you want to use for the image
  • diamond glaze
  • small paintbrush
  • wax paper (optional)
  • superglue
  • something to hang it with (chain, ribbon, etc)

Super simple directions:
  • trace the shape of the tile onto your paper or fabric
  • cut just inside the lines so there will be no overhang
  • double check the cut shape against the tile before adhering
  • squirt a small dot of glaze onto the back of the tile
  • use brush to spread glaze to tile edges
  • adhere the paper or fabric image side down to the tile
  • gently rub the fabric or paper to remove bubbles
    • optional method (totally easier) - flip tile onto wax paper and press down firmly to remove bubbles
  • let dry 10-15 minutes
  • using brush add second coat of glaze to seal paper or fabric
  • let dry several hours (leave them over night to be safe)
  • using super glue, adhere the bail to the back of the tile, let dry
  • string that bad boy up
  • look gorgeous in your new necklace



Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Message for the Man About to Marry my Friend

Every man about to embark on the lifelong commitment to the woman of his dreams should get a letter.  Or a list.  Rules perhaps.  The duty to pass along those rules can come from anyone... anyone except the bride to be.  That would just be wrong. But mother in laws, best friends, sisters... all fair game in the letter/list writing business. But what should go in that letter?   Well, that's up to you and the woman you represent.  For one of my very best ladies, I went with the following: 

Happy Wife = Happy Life

A brief summary on how to keep Chelsea (and the people who love her) happy

  1. Never yell at Chels... unless there is imminent danger (alligator in the closet, house is on fire, space debris headed toward her, etc).
  2. If one of you has to win an argument, let it be Chelsea. Heck, she's probably right anyway. 
  3. Neglect anything and everything else (laundry, hockey - even the Bruins, beer, etc) if it means not neglecting Chelsea. 
  4. Everyone says "don't go to bed angry".  Really? Go to bed as mad as you want.  But don't wake up that way. Honestly, exhaustion does not make reconciliation easier, but snuggling under the sheets might.
  5. Tell her something wonderful every day. Not just, "gee, you're pretty..." Something like, "Seriously, Chels, I'm so freaking lucky! You are a thousand times better than steak and potatoes and I love you more than sleep. Now get your sexy self over here for a sensual smooch... BAM!"
  6. ALWAYS take her side if she's upset with someone... even if it's me. She needs to know you always have her back.
  7. Don't forget to write it down. Chelsea loves the adorable doodles you make for her. Don't stop giving them to her until your hands shrivel up from severe arthritis. Then pay one of your grandkids to draw them for you. 
  8. Ladies first. Hold open the door for Chelsea.  Kidding. That's nice and all, but I mean during SEXY TIME. Brown chicken brown cow... 
  9. Be a solid bathroom buddy. Toilet seat down. Tinkle in not on the toilet. Dry floors are key, champ.
  10. We know you love Chels.  Otherwise we wouldn't have let you sweep her off her feet and all the way to Boston. Remember to tell her that you love her EVERY DAY. No exceptions. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Sour Cream Cupcakes with Cherry Compote and Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Sour cream cake, cherry compote, chocolate buttercream

Sometimes I get wheels off.  I mentioned the bake sale that we were hosting in the office.  I mentioned that I went overboard.  I didn't mention that I failed to follow one consistent recipe for anything... except the Guinness Cupcake, that I'll get to next. For now... Sour Cream.  Don't knock it until you've tried it... it's magical.

Compote (I feel like I should look up compote... I'm not sure I'm using it right)
To make this sweetened cherry, thick mash, with its own syrupy goodness... you probably want to check out google. Let's get real.  This is about to be the sketchiest "recipe" you have ever read...

  • small bag of frozen, pitted cherries
  • cornstarch
  • sugar
  • vanilla extract
Thaw your cherries on the stove in a pan.  As they get hot, use a fork to mash 'em up.  Should be a juicy mess of cherry mash.  Add sugar to taste. Add a tablespoon or less of cornstarch (really depends on how sweet you made the dang things).  Still not thickening on the stove? I guess add some more. Like a zing of vanilla? Like 1/4 tsp is ENOUGH. Yep... good luck with this. After it looks sufficiently thick and jam like, and taste like a cherry extravaganza... let it cool. 


Cupcakes

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
Mix flour, baking soda, and salt.  In a separate bowl, cream sugar and butter on medium until light and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and add vanilla and egg. Stir in sour cream. Add flour mixture.  Fill cupcake liners 1/3 full. Place a spoonful of cherry compote in the center.  Cover with batter (I used a pastry bag for this).

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. 

THEY WILL LOOKED DEPRESSED IN THE CENTERS.  Sorry to yell, but I don't want you to be disappointed. 

Chocolate Buttercream
I fall back on Wilton for this one.  I say use whatever strikes your fancy.  I went with chocolate to give it the chocolate cherry combo that I'm pretty sure was originally created to appease grumpy women.  Winner... It still works. At least on me. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting

Yum and yum! The office had a charity bake sale in the spirit of breast cancer awareness this month.  Don't get the wrong impression.  We aren't talking about a small, free standing business office with a handful of homemade cookies.  We are talking a major corporation with 5 floors of a 16 floor tower.  This required a little more thought than I would usually put into a bake sale... because so many people would have the ability to see and taste what I served up.

Must. Be. Awesome.

No one wants to be the uncool kid who is left to each lunch alone at the loser table. That doesn't change in the real world. So... I hedged my bets with multiple offerings. Hot Chocolate Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting.  Guinness Stout Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting. Sour Cream Cupcakes with cherry compote filling and Chocolate Buttercream. Red Velvet Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Frosting.

First, hot chocolate cupcakes. I used this recipe from Food.com with a few adjustments.  I didn't use their topping and I added mini marshmallows to the mix and baked in regular cupcake tins with liners.

Hot chocolate cupcakes with marshmallow frosting

Ingredients
Cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cups very hot water
  • 1 cup mini dehydrated marshmallows (added these and then threw in an extra handful because I love marshmallows)

Directions
Sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Transfer to a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or use a hand mixer) and blend briefly.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add to the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for 5 minutes. Gradually add the hot water, mixing at low speed until just combined. The batter will be quite thin.

Pour the batter into coffee cups lined cupcake tins and arrange them 1-inch apart on a sheet pan or a rectangular cake pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (a few crumbs are okay), and the center feels firm to the touch, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let the cakes cool on the pan. Place cupcakes on cooling rack.

For the frosting, I looked to Rachel Ray for this recipe.

Ingredients
Frosting:

  • 4 sticks (1 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1 16 ounce tub  marshmallow cream (such as Marshmallow Fluff brand)

Directions
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy.
Beat in one-fourth of the sugar until fluffy, then repeat with the remaining sugar.
Beat in the vanilla, then stir in the marshmallow cream until well blended.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Day 105: Seeing Results from the Carrot and the Stick

It has been 105 days since the biometric screening that that turned my health plan around.  There have been moments of feeling like I am punishing myself and moments where my fiance was certain I was punishing him as well.  It has been 105 days since we have ordered pizza at the house and 105 days since I've eaten fast food (goodbye In and Out grilled cheese). It has been 105 days since I've had a soda or a sweet tea.  I have eaten legit dessert, though. 4 times... and each time was magical. My lettuce intake has gone through the roof and I have cooked more at home than the fiance or I thought there was time for. 


So carrot/stick health initiative at the office has worked all because on April 26th, I was forced to get to know my numbers.  

So an update on the numbers I know:

BMI - I was listed as a 30 on my screening form.  I looked it up myself and was actually a 31. So not borderline, but actually obese. Today I am a 26.5 which is listed as overweight, but a substantial improvement. 

Weight: I am down from 193 (less the two lbs they give you in case the scale is off, how sweet) on April 26th to 163.6.  So almost -30lbs without the grace, -27.4 with it. Still plugging along, though not at the same pace as before. 

Body Shape: Also known as the waist to height ratio... I have gone from a .53 (increased risk) to a .48 (healthy).  I am down from a size 14 pant to a size 10.  I am able to wear medium tops in some styles instead of extra large. Some tops I still require a large, but I'm pretty okay with that.

I am having my cholesterol rechecked on the thirtieth of this month.  My physician wanted to make sure there was adequate time to make an impact where I could.  I will post the results when I have them and we can all cross our fingers until then.  

I feel like I've done pretty well with the check ins.   I've logged in at least 95 days of the last 105 and I've stayed a lot more active. I can run/walk 6 miles in a workout when day one I struggled to hit 1 mile.  I've hiked on vacations (and work trips), spent time on the bike, and added in some weights to the rotation.  

I couldn't have gotten this far without my myfitnesspal friends! They hold me accountable when I don't log in and keep me motivated with the comments on my check-ins. 

Can't wait to give you another update at the end of the month! 

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Crazy Dreams

I try to use my logical thinking skills when it comes to dreams.  I think of it like defragging your computer... your brain is taking all these bits of information and reorganizing them into nice little pockets.  While it's working its magic, some of the weirdness slips out. And it muddled with other weirdness.  This spawns freaky dreams that cause me to question whether or not New Guy just might be drugging me. But, seriously... it's just information being expressed in bizarre fashion in my head. It doesn't mean anything.

Or does it?

So last night I have a pretty lifelike dream about being in the hallway of a hospital or old school junior high.  Long hallways, lots of doors along the sides, unflattering lighting, the whole bit. I'm there to pick up the baby New guy and I are adopting (so clearly a hospital, but still reminds me of Hefner Middle School).  Why are we adopting? I don't know. But somehow, I do know that I plan to have a baby of my own in addition to the baby we are picking up. Okay, brain. Let's move it along.

I go leave the hospital with said baby and the nurse (straight out of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest... not that lady, but wearing that outfit... which is obviously strange) came running out after me into the hallway.

"Miss, there are two."

Umm, brain. Not cool.

Here is where things take a less normal (normal in the sense that at least people adopt and go to places to do so and nurses are involved way, not an I've been thinking about all this way") turn.  I ask her what she means and she says the woman had twins unexpectedly.  Sure, maybe she NEVER had a single prenatal visit and just thought, "man this baby is huge and has 4 legs"... whatever. So as I go back in for said baby...

** Brace yourself for clear, narcissistic, vivid dream recall... **

I think to myself, "Oh, well New Guy said he wanted two and now there are two.  I won't get to have a baby which makes me sad. But, this way I won't be as old when the younger is in high school, since they are only a few minutes apart. And at least I won't gain all that weight back. No one wants to be the oldest mom in the room and I did just buy skinny pants."

Seriously... Wow. Maybe I'm going to adopt! Maybe it will be twins! Maybe I will do it for the right reasons instead of vain ones!

But...

Having given it some thought, I realize in the last 24 hours I've...
  1. watched a design show about creating a nursery for twins 
  2. used a chemical that said it may 1) harm a fetus and 2) cause infertility
  3. put my last pair of bigger pants in the donation pile
  4. talked to my nana about children with disabilities (which resulted in #5)
  5. questioned waiting to start a family until I was 34
Brain, you are an ass. 

An ass of epic proportion. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Introducing the Something Blue Brigade

Taking little bits from here and there, I've tossed around a lot of ideas when it comes to how to pull off a wedding and how to celebrate the fabulous women in my life. From the dessert table to the DIY envelopes, I have already stepped out of the traditional box and tried my best to just do things in a way that suits me and New Guy. So a combination of ideas from some other brave, offbeat ladies along with some soul searching on the most important missing piece of the wedding had led me to the "Something Blue Brigade".

The most painful experience of my life was losing my mom in 2010.  It's also been one of the hardest things about wedding planning. There hasn't been a single moment when I haven't wished my mom was there and the thought of getting through the actual day without her to calm my frayed nerves, laugh, and share the day is brutal.  I try to remind myself that she is always with me, but sometimes the crummy feelings sneak in and feel absolutely defeated.

But then, on the flip side, I have the most amazing group of women in my life. First and foremost, my Nana is A-MAZ-ING! If you don't know her, you should hustle on down to Lampasas and get to know her. My mom's sisters are so much like her.  When they laugh it's like she's here and I know they would do anything to help me in life. All my uncles made phenomenal choices in partners which brings along some strong women with unique perspectives and amazing hearts.  Great moms raise great daughters. Did I mention I have more cousins than you can shake a stick at?  All beautiful women inside and out. And then there is the family you choose.  Out of the 7.1 billion people out there, these ladies stand out for their compassion, strength, senses of humor, and pure genius. Pretty sure I'm about as lucky as anyone could be when it comes to the group I have around me.

On my wedding day, I will be wearing one of my mom's brooches in my hair. It just so happens to be blue. And it's fabulous. And it's from my mom which gives it immeasurable value.

So from my mom, I have something old, borrowed, and blue. 

For the something new, I will stay with the something blue theme... and give something new to each of the women who are helping make our day special. The women who will be henceforth known as the Something Blue Brigade.

Along with a hand written letter and a handmade blue necklace (pictures coming soon!), I plan to send along a printed explanation of the Brigade that went a little something like this: 

Something Blue Brigade
David & I have bucked tradition nearly every step of the way.  Our wedding party is no exception.  Rather than select a handful of people to call bridesmaids & groomsmen, we hope that each of you will join us in making our day special.  This is a long winded way to say,
“Could you please NOT be my bridesmaid?”
or rather more accurately,
“I count you among the women in my life that I love & cherish. I cannot imagine the day without you. Will you do me the honor of being part of my fabulously wonderful, packed with amazing women, Something Blue Brigade?”

The remainder of the page defined some of the do's and don'ts (don't fret, I checked the grammar on Do's and Don'ts before I hit print, what a cluster) including things like "do tell me when I’m being ridiculous and reign in my use of spreadsheets." and "Don't wear the same dress as the other women in the Brigade. You are an individual, wear your own choice of dress (or skirt, or pants)."

Hopefully people take this in the spirit in which it's meant - one of loving inclusion in the first day of a kick-ass marriage.
  

Friday, July 12, 2013

Excited... and Nauseous

Wow.

I just bought New Guy's wedding band.

I'm pumped!

But I'm also freaking out a little... Is that normal?

Perhaps it's the 33 years of living the single life, knowing that I could pack it up and move across the country at any moment, checking the flight sales not worrying about who might care if I went on a last minute vacation, and generally just being me, worrying only about me, and planning a future that was focused completely on me. Yep.  There it is. Waiting until you are in your thirties to get married makes you sound pretty dang selfish.

But less about me and more about the wedding band...

We all know New Guys loves his bikes.  Cross bike, mountain bike, single speed, tandem, roadie, more bike frames than he knows what to do with. So did I get him a bicycle themed ring!?! You bet your ass I did... n't.

Seriously, that would be ridiculous. BUT -

There is a gent out of Georgia who bailed on his "real job" to make titanium cogs. Then he sold out... sorta... then he bailed (because of Schwinn, which we can all understand)... now he just makes rings.  What...?
Custom Made Rings
I know what you're thinking, this can't be a good idea.

You. Are. Wrong. This. Is. Awesome.

So this gent makes titanium wedding bands for the cycling guy in your life and they are gorgeous! And sturdy enough that your mountain biking man can keep it on during his rides. Sounds better every minute doesn't it?  So New Guy will be sporting one of these beauties come January and I'm pretty excited!

Meteorite Bevels Titanium Ring



Tuesday, July 02, 2013

DIY Envelopes from Old Books

When it was time to order our invitations, they came with white envelopes.  Not super high quality white envelopes, but mostly see through white envelopes.  Fine, we will just order pretty navy blue envelopes from somewhere else.  

What? 

Seriously, envelopes cost that much? 

I don't think so.

So, off I went digging through the house in search of a solution. And there it was, somewhat torn up from previous projects, the vintage encyclopedia! Woo!

Fair warning, this is a time consuming project, but it's simple and looks adorable when finished. 

I used 4 pages per envelope, two front and two back, to make the envelope a little sturdier.  After determining what size the envelopes needed to be, I cut on set of pages down almost two inches to create a fold line for the flap.  The two short pages need a simple stitch across the cut edge only to hold the two pages together. Once the first stitch is in, stack all four pages together. Start a stitch at the cross stitch on the short pages.  This is important because if you start elsewhere the pages can get a bit off and the envelope gets lumpy. Stitch a continuous line around the pages at the size that the inside of your envelope needs to be.  Do a quick back stitch when you get back to the beginning. I used some fun pattern scissors, but really anything would work.  Pinking sheers seem like they would be totally cute! Remember not to use your fabric scissors though. That really turns out poorly for your scissors. 
My brother helped me with a ton of the sewing and we made our (80) envelopes to fit the dimensions of the standard invite (image above contains random paper from the table, not the invites). 

We used a large shipping label to hand address our invites.  Also time consuming, but keeps the charm.

And for the back, a simple fold over, double sided tape, layered stickers (seal and heart), and a "woohoo!" to wrap it all up. 

This style suits New Guy and I.  If you like it clean and super buttoned up, this probably isn't for you.  But the win... We sent a prototype to my brother and 180 miles with the USPS didn't damage the envelope or its contents. Woohoo again! 


The Dessert Table

Okay, I'm on mission to save a few bucks here and there so that I don't stress about New Guy's request to have a band instead of a DJ.  In case you've never looked into it, the price difference is not entirely small.  So, cake.  Seriously, what the hell bakers?  I know you make beautiful cakes, but there has to be a way to come down off the $4.00 per person price tag... plus a delivery fee... cake cutting fee... first born???

So was born the dessert table plan.

At my family functions, there is always too much food. Too much main course, too many sides, and WAY TOO MUCH DESSERT. Don't get me wrong.  I freaking love pie. And my nana's sugar cookies? Heaven.


So I hoped on over to Michael's and grabbed some clearance cupcake stickers and clearance note cards.  Hooray for clearance.  Then I channeled my inner 3rd grade poet (not looking for art, just words that rhyme... don't lie, if you've crafted, you've been there) and spit out this bit of magic... 

The typical wedding gifts of a towel, blender, or pot
Are some of the things at this ripe age that both of us have got.

From the people most important, we want less commercial and more lovin’
So if you have time and the mood is right, we’d LOVE something from your oven.

A table of gorgeous, sweet desserts from your heart and by your hands
Would mean so much more than china, new bedding, or cake stands.

Cookies, cupcakes, candies, pies… it’s really up to you
We just want you there (sans Tupperware) to hear us say, “I do!”

I figure closer to the date, we'll ask what (if anything) people are bringing.  Then plan accordingly to try to recreate something as gorgeous as this:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Jump Little Froggy, Jump!

So I've been using MyFitnessPal to track my food, exercise, and weight loss.  I know it sounds ridiculous (if you haven't been in my shoes), but since I look at myself everyday (not in a vain way, but more of a does this outfit look presentable for the workplace way), I really can't tell much difference in my body. 

So what I look forward to the most is not the projected weight if I continue to eat/exercise like this... it's not the graph that shows my weight over time... it's totally the frog. 

He scoots along the line to my ever changing goal and grins at me like, "hey sexy lady... aren't we doing well." 

And I'm all, "hell yes little froggy... keep on keepin' on."

We really do have a pretty swell relationship, me and the frog. But I worry that one day I'll log in and he'll be all, "WTF. Stop moving the goal line away from me."  Until then, I've goaled myself at high school skinny.  We shall see.


Created by MyFitnessPal - Nutrition Facts For Foods

DIY Save the Dates!

Design it yourself, not do it yourself. I'm all about crafting, but seriously, you really have to draw the line somewhere. Let someone else print for you.  There are some seriously cheap options out there and the time savings is only trumped by the frustration you won't be experiencing. Printing at home is usually a disaster.

When New Guy and I were on our hot air balloon ride, my dad called.  While we were in the balloon. With a ton of people. No other noise. Just people, hot air, and my phone. Oops.

My dad wanted to know what the big news was.  Why had I called so early that morning.  So I turned and quietly whispered, "New Guy asked me to marry him."

Quiet my butt. The charming ladies next to me announced to the entire basket-o-tourists, "Oh my goodness! These two just got engaged!" So, the first official public announce was made. To strangers. In a balloon. Floating above vineyards in northern California.

It all turned out to be pretty helpful actually.  After the flight, we all headed off to a fabulous homemade breakfast at a winery. The two women wanted to hear the story, so after regaling them with the humorous bit about falling off the railing, they suggested using that part of the day to make our announcement.  Wheels were spinning, ideas where being thrown about, and our Save the Date was born!

So without further ado...


We are saving money by sending our Save the Dates as postcards rather than kicking in for envelopes and adding to the postage. It's not like the photo is a glamorous pic from an engagement photo session.  It's us falling off a railing at Point Reyes.  So if it get's to folks a little dinged up, so be it.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Crimson Romance

Before you get too excited... This is not about romance... Mostly.

I ordered some oversized postcards from vistaprint a few weeks back.  The design on the front has quite a bit of white on it.  It included this adorable, whitewashed, 1920s boathouse. As I started looking through my gorgeous postcards, they became unfortunately less gorgeous... because they were covered in ink from someone else's project.  So much ink in fact that I can read it. 

14 lines of it. 

On my white building. 



Crashing the Congressman’s Wedding

Alice Cramer is tired of being pitied for her family’s transgressions, so she resolves to break out of the gutter and into the spotlight. As long as her local congressman can forget about their checkered past and help her secure a federal grant to open Harmony Falls Little Theatre, she’ll be the brightest star in town. But when Alice stands up in church and stops the congressman’s wedding, she dives headfirst into fresh scandal.
Why is Harmony Fall’s golden boy, Justin Mitchell, speeding down the interstate sans a new wife but with the local drama queen he’s been trying his whole life to avoid? Alice Cramer may have saved him the hassle of an arranged marriage to a woman he didn’t love, but she’s also put a business transaction big enough to save an entire town in jeopardy—not to mention his reputation.
Soon Alice and Justin are dredging up and indulging in an attraction that threatens all their dreams and aspirations. But what if life together is the dream that matters most?
Ummm... wow. It's a romance novel marketing piece for a "sensual" romance novel... on my postcards. 

Well poop. 

No worries though. Vista Print is making it right and sending me a new rush batch at no cost.  But still... a little QC would have been helpful.  


Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Proposal - New Guy's Version

Ahh... the first ever guest post by New Guy. Brace yourself... 

I planned to ask Lacey to marry me on our trip to San Francisco. Most of my friends are blabber mouths so I didn't tell anybody.
At the airport in San Francisco, while Lacey was sitting in the rental car, I snuck the ring out of my bag and into my pocket. I was like, "bam!"
We made the drive to Point Reyes. I then just needed to pick a time while we were out hiking. We started our jaunt down toward the elephant seals. They spoke to me and I spoke back. Heh heh heh... Once they started advancing on me we had to move on.
Lacey brought her awesome* tripod with her and wanted to take lots of photos. She chose a spot at the lifeboat house and set up her awesome* tripod. She was afraid of setting up the photo and falling off the railing so she had me push the timer button on the camera while she sat on the railing. I pushed the button and ran over...
Since I had been doing crossfit, my vertical jump had improved tremendously and I jumped over the railing and took Lacey out with me (I'm sorry sugar bear). Lacey's hand swelled up like a balloon and she yelled at me to pull the existing ring off her hand.
Oh no! How was I going to jam another ring on that finger?
So we took an extended hike around all the trails and eventually found our way to the unauthorized trails... Which, of course, we took.
I kept thinking in my head, "should I do it after damaging my precious Lacey?" But when I found a nice spot overlooking the cliffs, the lighthouse, and the abundant wildlife, I dropped down to one knee and jammed that ring on there. She said "yes" and here we are.
Scoreboard. Yeah.
* read with sarcasm

The Proposal - Lacey's Version

Point Reyes is a special place to me.  New Guy and I first came here early in our relationship in 2011.  I knew New Guy was the one for me even back then.  It was on that first trip, I knew I loved him and wanted him to be a part of my life forever. 
We had driven up the coast with my brother, Michel, and his girlfriend to spread my mother's ashes along the shoreline. New Guy supported me through every emotion I had during a time when most people would have made a run for it. Over the last two years, I've mentioned to New Guy  that I would like to go back for a long weekend.  I know it sounds silly, but I needed to visit my mom and for me, that is where I could do that.  It was a place distinctly ours.
We made our way off the main trail (actually onto the unauthorized trail with a caution sign) and began hiking along the cliff edges.  It was beautiful!  I stopped to take a photo of the coast and was babbling on (as usual) to New Guy about how much fun I was having and how great the day was... and how even the fall was pretty funny in the whole scheme of things. I turned to finish my thought and saw him down on one knee. 
Oh. My. Word. I love him. 
It was all happening in some time warp.  He loved me.  He wanted me to marry him. He wanted my mom to be a part of this so he chose a spot he knew she would be. He wanted me to be happy.  Would I make him happy by... Yes! Yes! YES!
New Guy is the most wonderful, thoughtful, compassionate man I've ever known.  So, with all that said, I'm a pretty lucky lady.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Karma is an Elephant Seal... The Incident


New Guy and I spent the first day of our California vacation doing what anyone would do.  We drove up the coast, changed into comfortable shoes, and set out on a 4 hour hike.  Okay, so it's not what most people would do... but if you know us, you know that this was a pretty natural plan. 
Just like our last trip to Point Reyes, we started at the lighthouse then made our way back down to the Chimney Rock area.  We were already getting surprising good with the tripod, so New Guy's irritation was fading. Besides, he's pretty okay with my need to document our activities. We won't always be this young and beautiful... haha. 
After walking up the viewing trail to see the elephant seals, we headed down the low path by the water to take a look at the lifeboat house. When we arrived at the end of the trail, we saw a sign. Not like a sign from God, a legit park service sign. "Leave the elephant seals alone."  Okay, it was far more detailed than that, but who stops to read these things on a hike?  
We didn't touch them.  We didn't feed them.  We certainly didn't throw things at them.  But, like I said, we also didn't read the fine print.  
New Guy was mocking them.  Yes, mocking them.  The one to the left gave us sad eyes of shame while the one in the middle cursed us loudly.  At the time, neither I or New Guy could have known the power of the elephant seal, but soon there would be no doubt.

About 25 yards from the elephant seals was the Lifeboat House.  A gorgeous building constructed in the 1920s, the Lifeboat House had an adorable rap around deck complete with railing.  If you are thinking this would make an excellent photo, I'm sure you're right... Unless. 
I'm a clumsy girl. 
New Guy is an athletic guy. 
I carefully climbed up on the railing positioned myself for the photo.
New Guy pressed the timer on the camera and ran toward the railing. 
He jumped...
Too far.
New Guy overshot the railing and, being an absolute gentleman, threw his arms wide to save...
Himself.
New Guy was trying to catch himself as I flew backwards.
Just as I hit the deck... 
*CLICK*

Awesome. 
My hands and wrist began to immediately swell.  New Guy struggled to get my mom's ring off my finger before it was too late.  I was well on my way to looking like a sausage about to burst out of its casing.  He apologized profusely and insisted it would be funny later (which it probably would be... but not yet).

We did stop and take a moment to check out the priceless photo before we continued on our hike through Point Reyes.
All I can say is "wow". What a shame spiral.

The Tripod

New Guy and I travel together frequently, but as is so often the case with couples, we rarely have photos together.  
Enter the tripod. 
I have a travel tripod that admittedly I have never used.  I've had it somewhere in the vicinity of 7 years... so naturally, I refuse to throw it away.  Why? Because it was free.  And surely it will prove valuable at some unknown time in the future. As New Guy and I laid our things all over the bed last night (it's our less than organized system of organization) to pack for the trip to California, that time was realized.  
Barely off the plane and into the rental car, New Guy and I made a quick turn just off CA-1 to get the first official tripod photo.  Several takes later, I finally snapped a photo where I didn't look "too fat" in my own estimation and we both looked pretty good (despite the car driving by and totally getting in the shot).  But, New Guy was already fairly annoyed with the magical travel tripod.  
We all know he loves me, but to prove it, he went along with my need to get at least one photo in each spot where my hair was somewhat tame and my belly somewhat flat.  He's a good man that New Guy.
I think the magical travel tripod even grew on him as the day went by.  I was getting better at pushing the button, running to him, turning my hips, and sucking in... all within the 10 second time span.  So, my advice... get a travel tripod. But, as you will hear about in another blog another day... don't make your posed shots too physically difficult. 10 seconds is not that long. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

But skip the peanuts and crackerjacks, because this broad brought her own food to snack on.  Yep, Ranger's Ballpark let's you bring in your own goodies (sans booze and breakables).  While David enjoyed a super sized soda, hot dog, and salty pretzel, I ate low fat tuna salad, greek yogurt, and carrots.  I felt pretty good about myself, but dang those garlic fries the guy behind us was eating smelled of heaven. 
Had I not weighed less at this morning's weigh in, I might have had a post ballpark meltdown.  Someday I'll be in good enough shape to have ice cream in a mini helmet again, but until that days comes, I'm going to keep on keepin' on with carrots in my purse. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Black Coffee, It's Growing on Me

Okay, maybe not in a "gotta have this every day in order to maintain my sanity and happieness quotient" way, but more of a "since my life is becoming sugar free with regard to desserts and other things that actually taste good, coffee is less 'meh' and I guess I'll take it" sort of way... 
Sad? A little.
But why focus on the crappy side of this experience when I can share the exciting updates...
1. I regiestered for a marathon training class at the running store just down from the house.  Should be a good time, but the SUPER FREAKING EARLY mornings will take some getting used to.
2. My bro and I are signed up for the Disney World Marathon in mid January!  That will be such a super fun time and will help keep me motivated for at least another 8 months.  And we are going to Disney World... Sibling vacay!! What!
3. My self confidence is going up.  I know, I know... when was it ever lacking?  Seriously, I've been pretty bummed about my body and the fact that i allowed myself to get all squishly and blah and over 30 lbs overweight.  So, self confidence was almost on E.  Glad the tank is filling up.
4. I've lost nearly nine pounds. I'm excited to go to the doctor in a couple weeks with my April 26th weigh in and cholesterol numbers and see if it all looks so much better that he calls me a medical miracle.  Heck yes, I am. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Day 1: Biometric Screening

Day 1: Biometric Screening

Thanks to a carrot/stick combination at work this year, I'm in the middle of a live healthy overhaul.  Basically, we can complete the requirements and get a small monetary reward at the end of the year (carrot) or you can not complete the requirements and next year you pay an insurance premium surcharge (stick).  So, I will play along despite feeling like most of what is expected does not actually help. 
There was the 60 Day Challenge where you didn't actually have to change your behaviors, just report on them... There are webinars, some good, some bad... There is smoking cessation, weight loss, etc... But today...
Today was biometric screening.  Basically it's a day where they preach "knowing your numbers".  Gotcha. I was pretty sure i knew mine, but man was I off.
Happily, I've lost 7 lbs since the last time I was on a scale (wayyyyy back in September).  But from there, things got a bit dicey.
BMI - I'm on the edge between overweight and obese.  Yep.  I wear a size 14 pant... and I'm borderline obese.  I did not cry.  So at least I can hold on to that.  BMI... 30. Oh lord... it's out there.
Total Cholesterol - I'm "mildly high" at 218. Less than 200 is the goal there.
LDL "Bad" Cholesterol - Borderline High at 152.  Supposed to be under 100 here.  That is no bueno. 
HDL "Good" Cholesterol - Sad trombone again. Low at 45.  Considered a risk for heart disease.  
So... the plan of action is to go to myfitnesspal every day.  If I miss one, I will not punish myself.  I will be honest and open and anyone is free to swing by and be judgy... or supportive (which is strongly preferred). 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Goodbye House...

After a series of stressful events, we finally closed on our house in NRH on Monday morning.  Today, I'll do my best to get through the events, the positives, and the goodbyes...

THE EVENTS

Most of my things have been out of the house since late last year.  Or at least the things I use frequently... clothes, crafting supplies, electronics, a few well loved books... The rest has been gradually sold off or would be going in the last minute fire sale on Saturday. We had a great garage sale and even posted some of the items individually... like the couch that screams, "single white girl lives here!" and the desk that brings the world graduate degrees... In fact the very car that made it's debut here in October 2005 was sold along with so many other possessions. To be honest, I might have been having an anxiety attack watching everything I'd accumulated over the years in the house slowly disappear. Thankfully, just when I really hit the wall, a great friend (who has graced me with his friendship for nearly 20 years) and his lovely bride came by with booze.

Yes.

Now the deals are really flying.

Sunday, came and we continued on our quest to trash the rest of the items and get the house cleaned out.  We took a short break from the cleaning to run my brother back to our house so he could get on the road home and then we went by the storage unit to abandon some boxes... At some point during that short time, the homeowner to be came by the house unannounced and 1) spilled coffee on the (at his request) freshly cleaned carpet, 2) left boxes like he owned the place already, and 3) called my Realtor to let him know there was still stuff in the house.  Okay, ass hat.  1) What the frick.  2) I'm trying to clean and you DON'T OWN THE HOUSE YET. 3) I can keep everything I own in there until close and could even throw a raging drunk fest Sunday night if I wanted... In fact, I could use the things you left there...

Perhaps the giant bottle of booze you left in the bathroom?  Freaky...

Or perhaps your other box of "goodies"... I hope people are judging you, because I sure was.

So Monday morning... I've not slept well or much for the last few days.  The amount of work to be done and the stress of said work was wearing thin. 6:20am - Text from my Realtor telling me I needed to bring money to closing.  WHAT!?! Seriously.  In our contract we agreed to a sells price and that I would pay $0 in closing costs.  The ass hat buying the house had a VA loan so he couldn't pay the closing costs either... strange. Pretty sure he knew that (not anywhere near as young as the goodies box might have lead you to believe).  So I've been crewed, morning of... for $2555.22.  That is not chump change.  Good thing I sold my PT Loser Saturday.

Tears.  Hyperventilating.  Asthma attack.  Snot on face like toddler. I looked so hot.

The woman at the title company, after several hours of work found a way to get that figure down to $1355.22.  I guess I can handle that, so off we went, 2 hours late, to closing.  That's when I saw ass hat.  Yep, he's old and stuff.  After everything, all I could do was smile and think to myself, "you're the guy that needs 20% more lube?"

Fifteen minutes later and we were done.  No more house.

THE POSITIVES

  1. I no longer own the rodent problem... 
  2. I don't have to move the neighbor's yard anymore... the one who let her weeds grow OVER the 6' privacy fence
  3.  I don't have to see the glow of Auto Zone or the Chicken Place out my window at night
  4. I don't live one street from Watauga (check that place out on the sex offender map)
  5. I don't live next to a house with a non-working vehicle in the driveway... one that has been stationary for at least 5 years
  6. New Guy and I only have one mortgage! (and one electric bill, and one water bill, and one property to pay taxes on, and one set of homeowner's insurance, and one yard to maintain, and one house to clean, and...)
  7. The neighborhood was turning, there have been recent "upgrades" giving that neighborhood a turquoise house, a TCU purple house, and a banana yellow house
There are so many more positives.  But the point has been made. And I feel like a winner despite the $1355.22. 

THE GOODBYES

This is the last place my mom was well enough to have a good laugh at Maury Povich. I know it's crazy, but I have this fear that if it's all been a crazy dream, she will come looking for me and won't know where to find me... Like I said, I know it's crazy.  This is the first place I owned.  This is where I lived when I met New Guy. This is where I thought my mom would move when she retired.  This house was greatness for the most part and I loved it. I'll miss my final safety net from New Guy... but he said he was happy it was gone and that we were stuck with each other. 



Saturday, April 20, 2013

Craigslist: Couch and Loveseat



Gosh darn I loved these... If my boyfriend wasn't afraid to have such magical furnishings, we wouldn't be selling these. But much like our second dog, there's only room for one at our new combined home. Kidding, about the dog not the furniture. If you're awesome enough to sit, sleep, dance, etc on these fabulous, micro suede pieces swing on down to [Address Deleted], North Richland Hills, TX 76182





  • Location: North Richland Hills, TX
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
**Update: We got the most amazing response to this post... after we sold the couch and loveseat.  I'm pretty bummed because I'm certain P.S. would have loved these in just the right way while typing charming emails on her laptop in the living room.  "Oh em gee !! Do you still have the awesome red sofa ?"  Dang it P.S., No, I don't.

Craigslist: Desk Fit for a Genius - $30



Is your kid a genius? Probably not. But, do you wish he or she was? Well, the first step is purchasing this sweet looking desk! I'm generally pretty average at life, but this desk helped me earn a graduate degree like a champ. Magnetic white board will keep all your financial analysis equations just where you need them... And those papers you will wang to put off until the last minute? Shove 'em in the drawer!

Make your kid more smarter by stopping by [Address deleted] North Richland Hills today before 1pm.





  • Location: North Richland Hills, TX 76182
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
**Update: We actually had to give this away... no joke.  We drove it to a woman's house a few blocks away for free because we just couldn't sell it. The bucket my brother is sitting on that was 1/5 full of paint that is around 10 years old?  Sold that.  Desk?  Not so much.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Totally Stalkable Front Door Hanging

I'm not a huge fan of being able to be traced. I mean, I know I share a lot of personal info... but there has always been a reason for the nicknames... I just don't think you should put it ALL out there. But alas, the time has come when I can't post the magic of the new craft without sharing New Guy's actual name... and it's not "Smith"... So, please don't stalk him.  And if you're one of the few people who share the name, don't steal our door hanging.  That would be seriously uncool of you. 

Using leftover paint from the cornhole set (semigloss white) and leftover paint from the Christmas door hanging (craft, acrylic, green), I got to work on this old canvas.  Yes, it used to be something else too... But I don't generally memorialize projects that died at a mid point. 

So... mix mix mix... Three shades of whatever color you want and the white base. 

Paint the entire canvas the base color.  Why?  Because I said so.  But seriously, you only have to tape off one set of stripes if you paint the entire base.  After your base coat dries, tape off whatever background pattern you want (stripes, chevrons, polka dots, checks, etc) and then PAINT IT AGAIN WITH THE BASE COLOR.  Counter intuitive, but if you've been living under a rock and are still wondering how other people are getting such clean lines on their craft projects, this is it.  The coat above the tape seals the tape lines. No bleeding color. Wait for it to dry... again, then paint on your background color.

There is a lot of waiting in this project, but what can you do?  It happens.  For the center plaque design, I folder a sheet of copy paper into quarters and cut a simple design.  This can be traced onto the canvas and painted by hand using the next darker color you mixed. You might want to test your darker color first to make sure it is what you are looking for... or heck, live in the moment. I also painted a quick border on the canvas in this color because our front door is white and it needed some definition on the edges. Next, very exciting, let it dry. 

You will want to either draw or print the initial you will be using.  I went all freehand magic because how hard could an O really be?  You'll go back to your base color for the letter and then... wait for it to dry.

Lastly, in the darkest of your colors (I used straight from the bottle green), using a nice thin brush, paint on the name.  I again did some freehand work in cursive.  I actually tried print first and ended up backtracking to the plaque shape and starting fresh.  Best piece of advice here, for the name, dilute your paint slightly.  It will go on so much better (smooth, no blobs, less chance for error, longer lines without lifting your hand). 

Anywho... that's it.  Another easy one, but a great piece for the front door and it can be any color scheme you want!

Flip Flop You Don't Stop

What does a girl who failed a marital rating test from the 1930s do with her bachelorette* style evening?  She grabs a pair of flip flops and attempts a change that will make them wearable once again.  No, there was not a flip flop blow out (though this would work for those too).  The broken foot seems to be causing a serious reduction in shoes for me.  Apparently, once healed, there is a super sweet calcium lump at the site of the break.  Mix that with the fact that my feet are the only part of me that are legit thin... and you have some serious discomfort with all shoes that rub...  Flip flops included.

I saw a picture of these, but couldn't find the original instructions... I hate that about Pinterest.  Seriously people, links are your friends.

So...

This is at most an hour long project.  At most.  Turn on your favorite TV program to ignore and get to work.

Supplies:

  • old (or new) t-shirt
  • old (or new) flip flops
  • scissors
  • hot glue gun
Directions:
  • Cut the bottom hem off the t-shirt
  • Cut four 1 inch strips off the bottom (midsection) of the t-shirt, they should be loops when you remove them
  • With your hands inside the four loops, stretch to make the edges curl in on themselves
  • Cut loops once to make four long strips
  • Braid the strips into a long 4 section braid (need directions?)
  • Secure ends
  • Wrap braid around ankle and down between your toes to measure length, cut to length (my original braid was long enough for both flip flops. If yours isn't, repeat above steps to make second braid)
  • Remove old straps from flip flops
  • Trim bottom of flip flop enough to house fabric knot, but be careful to not punch all the way through the shoe (be conservative - don't go scissor crazy like you did the first time you gave yourself bangs in junior high)
  • Cut one 2-inch wide loop from sleeve
  • Stretch new loop then cut across width to make 2 equal strips
  • Putting the two ends of your braid together, tuck the loose ends through the top of the flip flop and knot together on the underside of the shoe
  • Trim the excess
  • Wrap one short strip around each side of the braid to secure the braid to the flip flop
  • Push loose ends through top of shoe and knot on the underside, trip excess (do for each side)
  • Using hot glue, secure the knot and fill in excess space on the underside of the shoe
  • Let dry
  • Try on
  • Look amazing
  • Go somewhere and show off your new shoes!


*New Guy is away on business.  Despite my failure on the test (for wearing pajamas instead of a nightgown and other not sexy things), he didn't leave me.  He's just working hard for his money... ooo, ooo... so hard for his money... in Phoenix this week.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Sew Skinny!

First thing to note... I'm not skinny. I'm not obese or like a hideous monster covered in growths... Just not skinny. And most day, I'm okay with it. When I'm not okay okay with it is when I buy a pair of pants in. A store that uses funhouse mirrors. You know what. I'm talking about. You look amazing in the store and then over the course off year you wear the pants about 25 times for 1-3 minutes each time. Because at home, your mirror doesn't lie. These pants are awful. Dang you J Crew.

Well, it was time to either make these pants work or, through the wonders of thrift shopping, burden someone else with this fashion monstrosity.

I happen to have a have a pretty great pair of skinny jeans from The Gap. I didn't want my J Crew sailor legged pants to be quite that skinny since I intend to wear them as summer pants to the office. But, the skinny jeans should make a pretty legit pattern. I laid the smaller jeans on top of the larger pants and grabbed a pen. Measuring 1/2 inch from the skinny jeans ( to add 1 inch to the diameter of the pant leg) I marked a line matching the skinny jean. For this part, you want to make sure the outer seam (outside of leg) is even. The. Inside seam won't be, pants just aren't built that way... Maybe pajama pants and scrubs... Who knows. But in order to get the new outside seam to match up, that bit has to be flat. Don't cut the inside seam.

The rest is basic sewing, use a thread that won't embarrass you the first time you sit and get to work revamping those pants. A few other notes, should you decide to do this... Don't cut the pants until you've tried them on with then new seam. Have your seam ripper handy, better to get it right and take a little longer. New Guy was responsible for answering, "no seriously, how do they look" along the way. Best to have a buddy. I mean, if you're doing this too, you did buy ugly pants to begin with.