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Happy New Year!

Happy 2014!

2013 ended on a less than perfect note (multiple sub-zero days, my car going crunch) but 2014 will be awesome, I can feel it!  Perhaps I’m a tinge biased since our wedding’s this year, but I’m running with it anyway.  I also really don’t make New Years Resolutions, but this year I want to set some goals.  Legit goals, none of this Go the Gym X Times a Week or Count Every Calorie bullshit that seem to be the go-to New Years life changes (I get cranky when I’m hungry and right now someone would need to pry this chocolate orange out of my cold dead fingers to get me to part with it). Nope, I have specific projects in mind, stuff I mean to do but always seem to put off.

1) Get my portfolio website up and running: There’s no way I’m going to get a design job without a solid portfolio.  Period.  I keep starting and stopping since I swear it’s is the hardest thing to design for yourself.  I keep thinking up new concepts and playing around with them until something new distracts me.  Bad.  I don’t have anywhere near these sorts of commitment issues when I’m designing for a client.

2) Get the Etsy shop running: I have a serious jewelry addiction (making, not buying) and to cope with that I opened up an Etsy shop a while back, but it sort of petered out.  I need to go through my stash, get stuff photographed, and just keep doing it.

3) New Years Cleaning: I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bit of a pack rat.  Craft supply hoarder even.  Every so often I just need to go through stuff and purge.  Apartment Therapy just started their January Cure and I’m planning to follow along with that to get the apartment on track.  It’s not too bad now, but it could certainly use a little pick me up.

Sounds totally doable? Right? Right.

 

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Really? Again?

Remember last Friday the thirteenth?  When I fell down the stairs and sprained my foot?  Yeah, well the world is now apparently conspiring to make me superstitious.  Today my car got totaled.  For realz.  While I was in it no less.

Everyone involved was perfectly fine, but the insurance adjuster looked at my car (which I considered driveable, as in, it is physically capable of movement, but then it was pointed out that since the airbags deployed it was now missing significant safety features and was not, in fact, what most people would consider driveable) and pronounced it totaled.  Now my poor baby is awaiting a tow and I have to find a new car.  Ugh.  Through a rather unexpected series of circumstances, I have never actually gone car shopping before.  I can’t say I’m looking forward to the experience, especially since it will be used car shopping.

People seriously seem to have it out for the passenger side of my car.  It got hit in pretty much the same place several years ago, but that time it was actually worth fixing.

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We Eloped!

No, not really, but it’s what I told annoying David’s Bridal lady when she called AGAIN today.  Seriously, I went to the shop in May, and informed you in some of your other 204358 calls that A) I have my dress already and B) I only have one bridesmaid and she’s wearing whatever the hell dress she wants (pro tip: most people do not choose bridesmaids dresses as their cocktail dress style of choice).  That still didn’t stop them from calling me so when I happened to answer the phone today I just said we eloped.  It was that or tell them the wedding had been called off, but I’m really not that good of an actor and felt fake crying would be needed.  This may have actually done the trick since they said they would delete me from their system.  You couldn’t have done that when I just said I wasn’t interested in scheduling another appointment?

Honestly, I had a perfectly fine experience at David’s Bridal–decent selection, good prices, ability to try on your actual size–but if you’re a bride who’s thinking about dress shopping there for the love of god set up a Google Voice number first.  You can then block their calls with a single click if when they start getting pesty.

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6 Months Out

I swear weddings are designed to make women go batshit insane. A Practical Wedding refers to this nonsense as the Wedding Industrial Complex (WIC). I think that is one of the reasons I happen to love that blog so much–they really stress that a wedding is not about needing All the Things.

So far wedding planning hasn’t been too bad.  There’s been a couple moments of sticker shock, but in general things are moving pretty smoothly.  That being said, there are some things about the wedding industry that *really* bug the crap out me. So now, at exactly 6 months out, I present the top 6 things (in no particular order) I personally find most obnoxious about wedding planning.

1) The Wedding Diet.  I was curious about a pin titled Top 10 Things to Do After You Get Engaged (or something like that).  Now while some of their things made sense, but mixed in there was Choose Your Wedding Diet.  Um… what?  Way to give women a complex about their weight.  If you’re concerned about your weight it should be a lifestyle change anyway, not a frantic fad diet to try to be as skinny as possible for a single day. Related: why do wedding dresses run so frickin small????

2) This pose.  You’re trying to sell a dress?  It’s probably a good idea to make the model look like she’s enjoying herself, not like she’s fighting horrific cramps.

3) Pesty vendors/sales people.  I swear to god the next time David’s Bridal calls me I’m just going to tell them I’ve eloped, and even then I still get the feeling they’d keep trying to sell me crap.  If I go shopping for any other clothing I don’t get calls from the staff trying to get me to come back for things I tried on.  No other clothing shops demand my personal information either.  Unless I have actually ordered a dress, there is no reason you need my contact info and I wish I had been stubborn about that when I started shopping.  Also, telemarketers.  Just because some jerk sold you my number doesn’t mean you get to ignore the Do Not Call list. Yes, I will report you.

4) Wedding themes.  When the hell did a wedding suddenly require a theme?  Aren’t a couple colors enough?  Yes, I’m not a big fan of the traditional “2 static colors” approach, but I can at least understand it.  But themes?  Those are for children’s birthday parties.  Every once and I while I see a theme that works awesomely, but I hate that they’ve become expected.  People just assume you have a theme now.  My response to the “what’s your theme?” question is just “wedding.”

5) Cutesy poems.  Every time I see a cute poem or saying on Pinterest I feel I want to gag just a little.  Maybe it’s because I’m not a cutesy sort of person, but does a guestbook sign really need to rhyme?  The cutesy poems also often seem to get paired with asking your guests for money.  While gifts are certainly not a requirement for attending a wedding, most guests tend to give something and blatantly asking them for more is rude.

6) The word “Bridezilla.”  It’s starting to get thrown around even when the bride (and groom) are just trying to stand up for what’s important to them.  Telling your mom that no, her second cousin who you’ve never met is not getting an invite because you want a small intimate wedding?  Not a Bridezilla.  Selecting a dress/color that a bridesmaid may not completely love?  Not a Bridezilla.  If someone is demanding that her bridesmaids lose weight or that all the guests wear blue just call her a bitch or a crazy micro-manager.  There are words that get to the point far better than “Bridezilla.”

I should probably tack Ring Judgement on here as well.  I don’t like bling and sparkles.  At all.*  It’s a personal opinion, but it’s not even remotely my style.  I picked out my engagement ring after M proposed because he figured I’d have very strong opinions on the matter (hmmm… how could he possibly have gotten that idea?).  It’s small, it’s simple, and I absolutely love it.  It’s just a little annoying then when people immediately ask to see my ring and then can’t really hide their disappointment. “Oh…. it’s….uh…nice.”  Thankfully these are always people who are acquaintances at best and people who know me better think it’s perfect for me.  Just don’t work yourself up about other people’s rings if you can’t accept that people have different tastes.

 

*Seriously, dress shopping was like being stuck in the Flying Circus Spam sketch.  “But this one only has a little bit of sparkle on it…”  I was more than very tempted to shriek out “I don’t LIKE spam” in my best Pepperpot voice… but then I think people would have thought I was massively unhinged.

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Confessions of a Chair Hoarder

I probably should have warned M a while ago that I have a problem. I’m a chair hoarder. For realz. I don’t know what it is about chairs that makes them so collectable for me. Maybe it’s because they’re pretty easy to refinish. Maybe it’s just because they fit in my car. Who knows. Either way I have a tendency to bring home sad, ugly chairs like abandoned puppies.

Last weekend I went back to my college town for a friend’s wedding and since M had another wedding to go to it was just me and a former roommate let loose in central WI. This was apparently more dangerous than it sounds. We found a consignment shop where roomie found a pretty awesome globe lamp and I hit the MCM jackpot.

MCMjackpot

I almost didn’t get the chair (the footstool was a no brainer since I passed up one just like it a couple years ago and have been kicking myself ever since). I kept try to talk myself out of the chair though. Was it even comfy? Yes! Did I have a spot for it? Not really….but we have a storage room in the basement. Would M think I was crazy? Well yeah, but I’m sure he thinks that chair or not. Plus it was $35… And then I noticed a sign saying yellow tags were 25% off. Yup, chair was a yellow tag. It was like the universe was telling me to buy it.

I ended up deciding to sleep on it so roomie and I head to our hotel, get dolled up, and proceed to get quite drunk, as one does with old college buddies. I later find myself shouting (the music was pretty loud) at the bride about my awesome chair find. That’s when I knew we had to go back.

Roomie’s jeep gets rearranged (and we found her family’s missing GPS stuck under a seat–buying this chair was totally fate), then it passed off into my trusty little Versa (hatchbacks FTW). M had beat me home which meant I couldn’t execute my cunning plan of insisting the chair had just appeared in the apartment. He did take it pretty well, especially since the chair in it’s current state is ugly as sin. It looks great in the living room though since it has a bit more substance than the previous chair (which, hey, fits in the bedroom!). Plus, the kitties totally approve.

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Adventures in Cat Furniture

I came home from work on Friday and found a gigantic box sitting in the kitchen.  Like, I could have curled up and fit comfortably inside of it kind of gigantic.  I have no clue what’s going on other than a friend of M’s was insisting that he had something that “would be perfect” for us and was going to drop it off next time he and M met up for breakfast.

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I wait for M to get home and we open the box.  It’s a cat tree. A big cat tree.  A Kitty Mansion if you want to get technical about it.  The word-less directions also implied that it could be assembled in 3 easy steps.  Don’t get me wrong, I love word-less directions.  I could hire myself out assembling IKEA furniture for people, but IKEA has perfected the art of diagram instructions.  This company had not.  3 easy steps?  M and I both grabbed a beer (ok, hard cider for me since I’m a failed Milwaukian who can’t stand beer) and got to work.  Then I pointed out that assembling it in the kitchen was perhaps not the best idea since it certainly wasn’t staying in the kitchen and the clearance to get it out either doorway would be iffy at best.

catTree2

After moving the operation into the living room we got back to work and after just a few false starts due to poorly diagrammed perspective we had a cat tree!  The cats were even intrigued by this giant structure in our living room.  Spencer showed his approval by immediately trying to kill himself on it.  The way the instructions had it configured didn’t provided a solid path to the upper platform so my brilliant cat tried to scale the side and he is not exactly coordinated.  Once he was on the top he started rolling around like a lunatic, batting at the hanging pompoms and nearly rolling off the edge.  At this point we decided 2 things 1) we need to make a couple adjustments to the layout and 2) we needed to put it in a corner to save Spencer from himself.

catTree3

We ended up switching a basket type perch with a shelf that would stick out past the edge of the main platform and removed one of the upper perches so problem one got solved.  Then there was the issue of where to put it.  Our apartment isn’t that big, plus I’m pretty neurotic about my decor (shocker there, I know).  We tried it in the living room corner first–we’re in there a lot and the cats are social little buggers. Unfortunately the living room layout is pretty limited so the only corner that would fit the cat tree was the corner the TV was in and moving the TV meant it would right smack in front of the window… and A/C unit.  Not so crazy about that idea.  My second choice was the study.  The study where I had just gotten the surplus furniture organized.  But it makes sense in there and actually fits in pretty well.  The problem is that damn keyboard (I know, how do I really feel about it?). The keyboard has always been the most awkward piece for me to work around in there.  Maybe a narrower stand will help since right now the base causes it to stick out a good 9″ from the wall.

Despite my furniture arrangement woes, the cats seem to be enjoying it.  Spencer especially.  The top platform has a cave for him to hang out in and he really loves the hanging pompoms.  Schmutz has also figured out how to get to the very top where she can lord over us all.  The cats also have an interesting spot to hang out while M and I are at our computers although at this very moment Schmutz has draped herself over my shoulder and is purring loudly in my ear, but that’s cats for you.

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IKEA is my hero

I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with the living room curtains for a while now.  They’re fine (white twill with a grommet top) I just think they’re a little too plain.  It hasn’t helped that Apartment Therapy’s Room for Color contest has been going on and I’ve seen a lot bunch of lovely patterned curtains.  This entry in particular really stirred up something in me.  The exact pattern is a little too girly for my personal taste, but I absolutely adore the overall feel of the room.

So I started researching curtains.  Patterned curtains.  And you what?  Curtains are crazy expensive.  I also seemed to only like the most expensive options–like $150 per panel. That would be $600 for what is ultimately a few hemmed rectangles or fabric. No thank you.  I know how to sew so I started looked at fabric options.  Again, I seem to have expensive taste is fabric.  The one I completely fell in love with was around $40/yd.  That would be cheaper than some of the pre-made curtains I liked, but just barely.  Maybe I could just add a pop of colorful fabric to the bottom?  Maybe I could paint a pattern on them?  None of the options were really jumping out at me.

Enter IKEA.

I needed to look at floor lamps* and pick up some storage boxes so I grabbed a buddy for an IKEA date.  If we have time we wander around the whole damn store because you never know what you might realize you need.  What we ended up realizing we needed was curtains.  Designated IKEA buddy inherited the stupidest curtains with her new house–big picture window in the master bedroom with about 1′ of curtain (and curtain rod) hanging just on the sides.  Useless.

Anywho. We’re in the IKEA curtain section and I see this perfect rust color (the color has been a difficult issue with the curtains too–I don’t red or orange, I want a red-orange).  It ends up being a bold pattern across the entire curtain for $15 dollars a pair.**  $30 for the room?  That’s what I’m talkin about!  The just had a pocket top and are pretty thin, but the color is spot on and the pattern isn’t bad so I get talked into taking them home.

This is why you should always shop with an IKEA buddy.  I almost didn’t get them because I thought M would just think I was crazy, but then my friend pointed out that if he was marrying me he should really get used to me spontaneously changing up the decor.  I gotta admit, the girl had a valid point.

Right now I have the new curtains pinned over the existing curtains because I was curious to see if I could line the new ones with the ones and preserve the grommet top that I really like.  I think I can actually pull it off too!  There will be a band of white across the top, but the base of the patterned curtain is white anyway so I think it actually works.

 

*Can someone tell me why floor lamps are suddenly so frickin short????  I’m not that tall and I could easily see over the tops of IKEA’s selection.  I don’t need a floor lamp to be a nice distance from a chair or couch, I need to it be the main light source in the room because we have no ceiling fixtures.  Sticking a 5′ lamp in a room with 9′ ceilings is just going to look ridiculous.

**Why is it only places like IKEA and Target that seem to sell curtains by the pair?  Who the hell needs a single curtain?

 

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Are you KIDDING me?

On Friday the world turned against me as soon as I got to work.  I was heading down the stairs to help out with a fundraising bake sale, tripped and landed sideways on my foot.  Not. Cool.  One of the managers heard my landing and was fairly convinced I had broken my foot. Sill Not. Cool.  As I’m being helped back up and down the rest of the stairs, someone else walks by and I get smacked in the head with a spatula.  Awesome.  Then she proceeded to commander a wheelchair and roll me to the health clinic we (thankfully!) have on site.  Can I crawl in a corner and die yet?  I’m filling out all the paperwork that comes with being sent to the nurses office as an adult and go to write in the date.  Are you frickin kidding me????  I am not even remotely superstitious so this just made me groan with the awfulness of the timing.

Thankfully it was just a sprain, and not even a super painful one (I’ve also been staying off of it as much as humanly possible for the last few days).  The downside was that it was my left foot, which wouldn’t be a big deal for anyone driving an automatic.  Guess what?  I don’t drive an automatic.  M’s been my acting chauffeur and I was able to recruit a friend who can drive stick to help get my car out of the work lot.  I’ve also been plotting Operation Teach M to Drive Stick because if you’re marrying me, you should be able to drive my car.  And now we know why.

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Pintesting: Nutella Swirl Banana Bread

Did the temperature drop about 20 degrees the second it hit September anywhere else in the country?  I have to say, it was VERY welcome change.  The past week has been in the 90′s and I’ve been tackling decorating projects without the aid of central air.  Gotta say, not the best timing.  I did decide to wait until the heat waved passed to tackle a different project though–turning on the oven.  Now that it’s come down to the delightful 70′s I’ve decided to get my bake on.

Anyone who follows me on Pinterest knows I’m just a little obsessed.  The problem with Pinterest though is that you accumulate all these great idea, but then they sit neglected on your boards because really, who has time for that?  I try to dig through them occasionally to find something to actually try.  Usually this is recipes.  Mmmm baked goods.

One recipe I’ve had floating on my Sweets pinboard was for a Nutella swirl banana bread from Chef In Training.  Nutella + banana bread?  How could this possibly go wrong?  And no, that is not ominously foreshadowing.  Well, not entirely.

I made the recipe as written, popped it in the oven, and checked on it about 20 minutes in because I’m madly curiously like that.  Good thing I did too because the batter was oozing over the top of the pan. Crap.  I stuck a baking sheet under the loaf pan to prevent burnt banana bread from crusting onto the bottom of my stove and went back to check on it when the timer actually went off.  Thank god I put the baking sheet down because it had oozed even more. GAH!

There is a bright side to all of this though.  Despite the dough acting like something out of Ghostbusters, the end result was awesomely delicious.  If you follow this recipe just split it between 2 pans you’ll be fine.  They’ll be a little small, but it’s better than burnt banana bread crusted onto your oven.

bananaBread

 

 

 

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AT Style Cure: The Big Reveal

I made it!  A couple days late, but that seems like a minor detail at this point.  So here it is, the big reveal.

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OfficeAfter2

OfficeAfter3

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And in case you forget, here’s some side by side comparisons..

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Desk base is finished and new shelves put up.  Bipolar printer has been banished to the closet. Sadly, you really can’t see my new FOTO lamp hanging above the desk, but you can see the ugly black cord… I’ll have to figure out how to camouflage that at some point.

officeBA3

It’s a little hard to tell the color difference, but the walls have changed from a depressing warm gray, to a soft, light cool gray. We also moved the rug under the couch a couple feet so the desk chairs can move easily on the wood floors.

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Artwork has been switched and added, and I found new, less girly, pillow covers at IKEA.

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Music and sewing areas got switched around, and storage and pinboard were added to make the sewing area a more defined crafting space.

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Close ups of the new sewing an music areas.

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Accessories! Robots and narwhals and snails, oh my.  Also those type blocks?  Our wedding date because I am apparently cheesy as all hell.*

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More accessories! Owls and dismember-al zombies.  And a wind-up ostrich because I can’t be the only one who is incredibly fascinated by Michael’s dollar bins.

Overall I think I made a huge improvement to this room and feel much more put together than it did before.  I’d still like to replace the black and white couch pillows with a pop of color, replace the rug with.. probably anything else, find a new floor lamp, find a decent looking piano bench, and add to the artwork.  A lot more time and money will have to go into some of those though.

What you see here was done for around $150.  Here’s the breakdown:

  • Paint: $30
  • Shelf hardware: $25
  • Wood: $15
  • Stain: $0, already had it
  • Drawer pulls: $0. already had them
  • DIY corkboard: $12
  • Artwork: $0, already had it
  • Frames: $40
  • New pillow covers: $8
  • New lamp: $20

Total: $158

 

*The was a giant bin of these at an antique store so I had to buy some.  I grabbed a few just random letters, but then decided to pick out with meaning too.  And yes, I am aware the 0′s are more likely O’s.