Monday, November 29, 2010

Dear Santa

Please? I have been so good this year.
I'm sure Rudolph wouldn't mind taking a detour to Tiffany's.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Back Again

We made it back to Ohio safe and sound yesterday, although our approach into Cincinnati was a windy one and quite bumpy. Sadie flew like a champ, even if she does cost us a small fortune to do so. I'm a little scared to check my credit card balance. Texas was great and our first real baby experience was eye opening. For now, I think it's safe to say that the only child in our lives will be our nephew, Baby Ben. As cute as he is, we are not ready for kids at this juncture. That's okay. We really already knew that.

Onto calorie news.......much like the above mentioned fear of my credit card bill, I'm also terrified of the scale today. I'm not weighing myself until I get at least a week or normal workouts and regular eating. I'm feeling really flabby because of all the food I ate in the last week (not to mention Thanksgiving) and I only worked out 3 times. Not.Good. John and I typically only eat out one meal a week. It's kind of a big deal for us. In the last 7 days we ate out for at least 9 meals. NINE!! I am so ashamed. Sometimes I made good food decisions; most times I did not. But, we must not dwell on the calories already consumed. Better just to focus on trying to keep December in check.

Regarding Christmas shopping, I'm in panic mode slightly. I did manage to get quite a bit done on Black Friday and when we got back to Ohio yesterday. I'm probably in better shape than I think but I only have 2 weekends left to shop. That's not many, folks. Maybe Cyber Monday can help ease that stress a bit.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, you turkeys! That's what my mom says anyway. Hope you all enjoy your holiday of gluttony today with all the fixins! We are making 3 pies for 4 adults. Is that too many?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Perfect Pillow

Guys, I am busting with excitement over this new sewing trick. Busting! Well, it's likely not new nor a trick but it is new to me and I can't believe I never learned how to do it until now! I followed this tutorial/video from House on Hill Road. I love the new bedding I bought for the master bedroom at the house. It's Martha Stewart's Poppy Collection from Macy's. LOVE.IT. But, it needed a throw pillow, screamed for one, really. Martha sells 3 accent pillows to match......for $80. No, thank you, Martha.

Instead, I purchased 1/2 a yard of this lovely lime-y green velvet. Did you know chartreuse is really hard to match? Trust me on that one. Nothing says luxury like velvet. I chose a 14" x 28" pillow form from Joann's and got to work. I am rather accustomed to an envelope flap pillow cover but for this, I wanted something more tailored without having to hand sew the last seam.

Observe: a normal looking pillow seam, yes?

NO! It's a zipper seam. A ZIPPERED PILLOW COVER!!! Ta- Da!

And.....the piece de resistance (I don't know how to make the accents on here)

Love. Love the pillow. Love the bedding. LOVE my gray bedroom. It still needs some artwork on the walls but it's the room that's closest to being totally done in the house.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Eyes of Texas are Upon You

Well, the eyes of Texas may not be upon you but, starting at 6:00 pm today and for the next week or so, they will be upon John, Sadie and me! That's right. The G's are packing up and shipping off to Austin for the holidays. In the last 8 years, I think I've only spent one Thanksgiving in Ohio. I just prefer to travel over that period of time. Sure, the airports are a mess and the tickets are crazy expensive but I prefer it nevertheless.

We will be seeing some sights, eating a LOT and most importantly, I get to hold my nephew, Baby Ben for the very first time! He's 3 months old already. I can't wait. I have zero baby experience. This ought to be fun. I politely declined when my sister asked if we wanted to watch him one day while they're at work and he goes to daycare. 8 hours with a baby and no idea what to do with him? Pass. we go!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Spoken from the Heart

I thought it was time for an autobiography of a more serious nature. I am about the farthest away from enjoying anything political that you can get. This is of great consternation to John who loves to talk politics till the cows come home. When he starts on one of his tears, my eyes glaze over much the same way that they do when we walk into Lowe's. Anyway, I chose Spoken from the Heart by Laura Bush because I thought it would be interesting to read her insight on being a First Lady and how her path lead from Texas to the White House and back again.

Mrs. Bush begins, relatively long-windedly, with her childhood in Texas. She discusses the events that molded who she is and how important her family was to her. She recants the tale of a horrific car accident that left one of her friends dead while she was behind the wheel. We learn about her college life and her early years as a teacher in some not so affluent school districts of Texas. And of course, she talks about the beginnings of her relationship with George, his coming from a political family and their fertility issues that eventually resulted in twins.

The most fascinating portions were, of course, the tales of her time in the White House. We learn just how difficult it is living your life under constant scrutiny, the stress of constant travel and events, and the reward of guiding the country. Well, being married to the man who is guiding the country, that is. And finally, she talks about getting back to normal life after her husband's term ended.

I found Spoken From the Heart captivating. The beginning was a bit slow but as soon as we got out of childhood and family history it was easy going. Laura Bush is a very interesting woman and a decent writer to boot. I guess she'd better be, being a librarian and all. I found her so likeable throughout the whole memoir. Of course, she's rather likeable in the news to most too so this was not a surprise. If you're looking for a memoir, give this one a try for a compelling read.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It's easy being green!

Guys, I love recycling! At the condo, there were no recycle bins. I don't know how 2 people and 1 small dog created so much trash but we did, and do. Our house is in a different city than the condo and the city provides recycle bins...FOR FREE!! Our 96 gallon green and gold beauty was delivered a couple weeks ago. If you are not an avid recycler, you would not believe how much waste this saves! We were astounded that in the first week of recycling alone, we only used 1 trash bag. ONE! Everything else we were able to recycle. That is amazing! I told John we ought to start composting too. He told me to stop taking crazy pills.

I realize something as pedestrian as recycling may not be of great excitement to most of you but for me it's awesome. For a very long time (read: 5+ years), the main trash can in my home was a small blue can that I purchased for my dorm room. It fit under the kitchen sink; that tells you how small it is. So small, in fact, that my garbage bags were plastic grocery bags because that's all that fit. You can imagine how many and how quickly we filled them in a week. That mini can was a source of constant ridicule among my house guests. John especially hates that trash can. For years, he begged me to get a larger can, one that we wouldn't have to empty multiple times a day. Last year, I finally ceded on the Trash Can Tussle (a battle enduring many years) and we asked for and received a large can for Christmas, complete with foot pedal! He loves that thing. I could take it or leave it. I have yet to give up my trash can under the sink although it hardly sees any trash these days. The main reason I was holding out on a large trash can was the purchasing of trash bags. Why pay for something when what you had been using previously was free? Not only that. John likes the expensive trash bags that don't rip. Of course he does. Just pour salt into my trash bag purchasing wound. Anyway, I do have a point.

The point is, this recycle bin has turned my frown upside down when it comes to the trash in Maison de G. Because so much of our waste gets recycled now and we only use one bag a week, or thereabouts, we buy trash bags much less often. This is a fantastic turn of events! Yea hooray, happy day! Marriage saved!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A gift for my nephew

Guys. This time next week, I will be in Texas holding my nephew (now 3 months old) for the first time. Can. Not. WAIT! This project was a request of my sister's. Because I can't sew all the dresses I was planning to sew had she birthed a daughter, I was happy to oblige. It's a car-seat cover. I used a tutorial on Cluck Cluck Sew here. I also purchased this Urban Circus fabric that she showed in a quilt. I had to have it! Even if it was more expensive than I wanted. My nephew is worth it.

It doesn't look like much without a car-seat and baby to model it but here it is anyway.

The turquoise rectangles are actually velcro tubes. That's what you attach to the handle of the car seat. I was pretty excited that I already had that turquoise fabric because it matched perfectly. The elephants are backed in a bright orange broadcloth.

Isn't this fabric the BEST?! I bought it from Fabricworm on Etsy. Sorry I didn't rotate the picture. It just looks like the pachyderms are marching up, that's all.

Anyway, I hope Baby Ben enjoys it and that it protects him from that Texas hail.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Sky is Everywhere

The Sky is Everywhere, by Jandy Nelson, is the story of Lennie Walker, a teenage girl whose sister Bailey has recently, and unexpectedly, passed away. Lennie and Bailey were extremely close and now Lennie is left feeling completely alone at a tough time in her life. Lennie’s mother left the girls to be raised by their grandmother and uncle when they were very young. When Lennie returns to school after a month of grieving, she meets Joe Fontaine, a talented musician, in band class and develops an immediate crush on him. While she struggles with her sister’s absence, she finds comfort with Toby, Bailey’s boyfriend, who is also devastated just as much as Lennie is. Eventually, Lennie finds herself in a twisted love triangle with Joe and Toby. She is in also in constant turmoil about trying to be happy while her sister no longer can be.

That wasn’t the best synopsis but this read was just okay for me. It certainly wasn’t absolutely amazing like many people on a book board had claimed it to be. The Sky is Everywhere falls into the Young Adult category which I’m finding is really hit or miss. Some YA lit should stay with the YA’s whereas others can still be completely relatable and enjoyed by OA’s (older adults). Nelson has a beautiful prose and there were a couple unpredictable twists, which were welcome. Anyway, even though it was a fast read, you can probably skip this one, unless you're trying to up your book count.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

It has begun.

I bought my first Christmas gift of the season this past weekend. Yea!!! I really try to get all my shopping done super early on. While I love shopping, I do not love the malls in the week leading up to Christmas. No, thank you. So, even though it's a little later than normal, I was pleased as punch to start crossing things off my list. I'm also getting oddly excited at the prospect of putting up outside lights on the house! I wanted to put lights on all the trim. John says, "Who's going to crawl up on the roof to do that?" I told him I would but I don't think he believed me. No matter. Even if the lights just go on the small tree and bush in the front yard, I'm fine with that. We'll see what we come up with. I'm back and forth on white lights and colored lights. I'm thinking the white will win out. I'd like to put wreaths up outside and there's not much better than a classically decorated exterior in December.

The other Christmas task I've begun is searching for the perfect outfits to wear during multiple Christmas celebrations. I hate when I look at pictures from Christmases past and I'm wearing the same red or green sweater in all of them. I'm sure this happens to you too. It seems like every year I face this task and every year still I'm at the mall on December 22nd purchasing whatever sparkly top is still available. Not. This. Year. I've already spotted a sweater at Macy's that I like and should just go ahead and purchase. Bonus: It's silver and could pull double duty on New Year's too!


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Whoopie Pies

I will admit I have quite a sweet tooth. I enjoy many kinds of desserts, candy, etc. Fortunately, or unfortunately, John's sweet tooth rivals mine. It's because of these sweet teeth that I'm always looking for low fat, low calorie, low sugar dessert options. These let us indulge without all the guilt. When I found this recipe for Whoopie Pies on Eat Better America, I knew I had to try it. They only have 100 calories per whoopie! We had guests in town this past weekend and I'm trying to become a better baker so this was the perfect opportunity to make them.

The pie parts baked up nicely. I was quite pleased with myself. The filling, however, was not homemade. As per the recipe, I used Jet-puffed Marshmallow fluff. I love that stuff. The only thing I don't love about it is the sticky factor. Man, was it messy! And, much to my consternation, after filling all 14 pies and putting them in tupperware and putting them over night in the fridge, the filling all oozed out!!! They were no longer cute little whoopies but slip slidey whoopies instead! I guess because they tasted good I get an A for baking, and an F for presentation.

See? Pretty messy. Oh well.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

So many books.......

I just finished up my 42nd book for the year. I didn’t even know it was book #42 until I counted them all up. Honestly, I had no idea where I stood. At the beginning of the year, I told myself that I wouldn’t be so focused on a number in 2010. I was looking for more quality, not quantity. Sure, there were a handful of reads this year that were certainly in the quantity category but I made a concerted effort to beef up the quality side. I think I succeeded. A number of them were more than 1,000 pages. That’s no small potatoes.

Upon the realization that I needed 8 reads in 8 weeks to match last year’s goal, something within me sparked. I love a good challenge. Most especially a challenge of the literary kind. Could I possibly? It’s not as though reading a book a week is unheard of for me. Plus, I have a week-long vacation coming up that might assist in reaching my goal. However, at least two of my next slated books are more than 1,000 pages. That’s a lot of page turning in not a lot of time. But, I think I’m up for the challenge. I’m certainly going to try anyway. Can I do it? Will I kill myself trying? By the end will I be selecting short, fluff pieces just to up my total? STAY TUNED!

P.S. I have yet to get a card at my new closer library. I just haven’t had time. But, it’s becoming increasingly difficult (read: annoying) to make the weekly 15 minute (one way!) drive to my favorite library so, soon, my friends. Very soon I shall have an update on what this new library beholds on its shelves for me.

P.P.S. I’m trying to decide if I would like a Kindle. For now, I’m leaning toward the no column for the sheer fact that you have to buy books to put on your Kindle. I’ve only purchased 5 out of 42 of my reads this year. I think the Kindle would cost me more than it’s worth. Plus, Kindles don’t look as nice on bookshelves. Do you have a Kindle that you love or hate? Do tell!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender was recommended on one of the book boards I read. Naturally, when I saw multiple copies on the Express shelf, I snapped one up to read despite having any idea of the plot. I’ve found that I don’t necessarily care about plots when choosing what to read next anymore. If it comes recommended, I’ll give anything a shot. It usually pays off in the end.

This story begins with Rose Edelstein as a 9 year old girl living in California. One day, she realizes as she’s eating a lemon cake her mother baked for her birthday, that she can taste the emotion within the cake. She tastes sadness and loneliness that has come from her mother. Disconcerting as this is, Rose embarks on a journey to find the source of her strange affliction. It's not isolated to her mother, however. Whoever made the food she eats is who she can taste the emotion from. Eventually, because she can’t stand eating the way her mother feels, she seeks out processed foods from vending machines as tasting factory is better than tasting sorrow. Rose’s older brother Joseph finds her annoying but his friend, George, tries to help her with her problem. As the book goes on, Rose grows up and deals with these edible emotions as best she can. Her family is not without problems and they play out on her plate nightly. A twist near the end pulls everything together in kind of a “whoa” moment.

I enjoyed this one. While somewhat fantastical, it provided a nice departure from some of my other recent reads. Bender’s descriptive writing is dead on and really helped bring out the characters and feelings throughout. If you’re looking for something slightly sad, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is worth reading. Or, even if you’re not looking for something sad, though be warned, Rose is full of heartbreak.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Well just pull the rug out from under me

I'm having trouble coming to terms with something. I thought I knew how expensive owning a home was. I was wrong. I'm not talking about major repairs which, knock on wood, we haven't had to deal with yet. Mainly, I'm talking about outfitting a home so that it feels like a home. I've already complained ad nauseum about the price of cabinet knobs. Let's just put that behind us, shall we? My latest obsession is underfoot, literally. I've been searching high and low for a rug to unfurl beneath our dining table. Let me tell you, folks, rugs are expensive. Sure, I could put some boring, low pile, remnant piece of junk under there and call it a day. But, something tells me I wouldn't be happy with that. The rug in question is 5x7. It has become quickly apparent that $100 is too unreasonable of a budget. If I want something nice, I'm going to have to up the ante.

If you know me, you know I love to shop. However, I also love a good bargain. I'm no longer having fun shopping for a rug because I've learned, the bargain rugs aren't worth it. Bargains are no fun when you've bargained yourself into a regrettable purchase. I am forever pining away for this Fieldcrest Jacobean Luxury Wool Rug from Target. It is super vibrant and really goes well with my Reynard walls.

Oh, Target, you say, that must be cheap. But you would be wrong. As far as rugs go, it's not terribly priced. It's just terribly priced for my budget.

Can we also talk about curtains for a second? Praise be that I found what I was mostly looking for on Overstock for a decent price. I have no picture for you yet. Je suis desolee. My next curtain quandary came in the living room. I need 6 panels. SIX, I said. What I really wanted was smoky blue velvet grommet panels. What I got (read: could afford) was blue, not necessarily smoky, brushed taffeta. At least I got 96" panels. I love a pooling curtain. More pictures whenever I hang them.

Oh, house. You just may be the death of me. At this rate, I'll never be able to have a housewarming party.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk

I love David Sedaris. He is absolutely my favorite satirist. I was super excited to pick up his newest offering, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk. I got it from the library without even knowing what it was about. It's a picture book! No, not really, although there are some great illustrations. It's actually a series of little vignettes that take place between many types of animals. Sedaris gives the animals great voice throughout the pieces, hilarious as always. Despite their being animals, each one could easily be seen and heard as a human. They convey funny tales, tales of woe and tales of warning. I can't really give you much more plot than that.....sorry.

Though I enjoyed Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, it wasn't my favorite of his work. Sedaris can do no wrong in my eyes but this one read so quickly that it left me wanting more. If you've never read anything by him, start elsewhere and come back to this one. It's worth reading though, if you're already a fan.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Just say NO to ugly knobs

I am way excited about the most recent upgrade in our new home. One glaringly obvious thing in the house that needed to be changed was the knobs in the kitchen. They were just plain white ceramic. BORING! The oak cabinets aren’t my favorite either but that is a much more expensive upgrade and I thought maybe changing the knobs would make them more tolerable.

For weeks, I scoured stores and the internet for reasonably priced cabinet knobs. Cabinet knobs are stupidly expensive. They’re just dumb knobs. Why are some of them upwards of $5, $6+ PER KNOB? This is ridiculous. I’m in the wrong business. Because I needed 25 knobs, I really wanted to keep it under $2.00/knob. I also really wanted square knobs. I had to abandon that dream as the ones I fell in love with were way out of my price range. As good as I knew the kitchen could look with them, I just felt like forking over $150 on cabinet knobs was not prudent. Yes, we’d use them every single day but still. There are many house things on our ‘to be purchased’ list, items where you do need to spend a little more than normal. Knobs are not those items.

I came across these Amerock knobs on in the sale section and perked up my attitude. They were only $1.32 a knob. A STEAL for Amerock. They weren’t square but they did have some visual interest to them. For some reason, John took a serious dislike to many of the knobs I sent him as possibilities. All of a sudden he’s a knob expert. But, I try to take all family member’s opinions into account …. sometimes. Fighting over knobs was not worth the battle. When John okayed the Allison model, I snapped them right up.

I was so excited when they arrived that I ripped open the box immediately. Now let me tell you, in their picture online, the top part looks concave. In person, they are very much convex. There’s a significant bump on the top. I think they look like nipples. John gets angry when I call them nipple knobs. I didn’t have the drive in me to return them, pay the restocking fee, and keep looking, so on they went. I did most of them myself because I love using power tools. We only have one power tool but I’m very handy with it. The nipple-ness is not as noticeable (alliteration!) when they’re on the cabinets, I don’t think. See what you think.

Maybe you wouldn’t have noticed that at all. Regardless, I think they really finish off the cabinets nicely. So much better than those white pieces of junk. Anyone need 25 white ceramic knobs?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

I recently read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford solely based on the title. I thought it was so clever. This is the story of Henry Lee. A Chinese-American growing up in Seattle during World War II, Henry has no friends, parents who refuse to let him speak Chinese to them even though they cannot speak English, and is the repeat target of bullying by his classmates. He is enrolled in a "white" school and works in the cafeteria to earn his scholarship. One day, Keiko Okabe also comes to work in the cafeteria. She is Japanese and on scholarship as well. Henry and Keiko become fast friends even though, because of his father's hatred for the Japanese, their friendship is forbidden. As their friendship and relationship blossoms, so does the hatred for all things Japanese by many Americans, including families of Japanese descent but who were all born in America, as in the Okabes case. Keiko and her family are soon taken away to an internment camp, much to Henry's horror and dismay.

The story is told by both Henry in the 1940's and Henry as a grown widower in the 1980's. His wife passed away from cancer and his son is in college. Henry has never spoken of Keiko to Marty, his son, but current events regarding the Panama Hotel that houses belongings from the Japanese families sent away so long ago open up a world Henry thought no longer existed to him. As the tale unravels, Henry embarks on a journey to find the missing piece to complete the puzzle of Keiko and her whereabouts.

I really enjoyed this one. I thought the subject matter was interesting, though not technically historical fiction. The back and forth between young Henry and old flowed nicely. It was a pretty fast read but it kept my attention well.