Thursday, December 20, 2012

Blogs + Pinterest > most everything

"The greatest thing about the internet is that you can quote something and just totally make up the source."
-Benjamin Franklin (haha!)

Rob has never understood my blog habit. Despite the hours he spends on Craigslist and cycling forums, he still gives me a hard time about reading blogs and browsing Pinterest.

But, I think he's starting to realize their potential....

He came home from work the other day, recounting a conversation with a coworker named Jim.

Jim: my wife and I have just hired a interior design consultant from Pottery Barn to redecorate our house.
Rob: what?!?? Pottery barn does consulting?!?
Jim: yeah we pay them to look at our house and come up with a plan.
Rob: [still confused] why would you need to pay for that? Doesn't your wife read blogs??

So, Rob and I agree... blogs and Pinterest make the world a better place!

Even if sometimes I'm more of a reader and taker than a writer and contributor... Sorry about that... it's been a busy couple of weeks. But, it feels good to have something to say... and time to sit down to say it. Maybe I'll even make this writing thing a habit again... maybe...


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

#christmascheer

“Christmas doesn't come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more....”
-Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

2012 Crafty Gift Guide

Every time we love, every time we give, it's Christmas.
-Dale Evans


Knowing who my most faithful blog readers are, I can't share many of my craftiest Christmas gift ideas yet. They just might be wrapped up with one of their names scrawled across the tag, waiting patiently to be opened Christmas morning.

But, here are a few of the "handmade" gifts that are sitting under my tree this year:

Totebag for science books | For my nephew, the third grader
He is a good reader but needs all the motivation he can to actually read in his spare time. I filled it with Franny K. Stein's Crate of Danger and a science experiment book which hopefully will inspire him. Wanna make a cute tote of your own? I used this great tutorial from Dana Made It.


Monogrammed cookie jar | For my sister-in-law who recently renovated her kitchen. 
As I've mentioned previously, I love a good glass etching project. Take a $6 glass cookie jar, and poof, it becomes a trendy, custom kitchen accessory. I cut the stencil with a Silhouette machine (at the local scrapbook store for only $1.50!!) and then went at it with the Armor Etch.

Racing bib holder | For my husband, the cycling enthusiast
Along with a several of other cycling-related paraphernalia, I made Rob a display plaque for his bib numbers from races. I was inspired by these from Running On The Wall's Etsy shop.

If you don't have the wall space for hanging, my mom is also working a scrapbook-like binder for her significant others' race bibs---hopefully she'll post on her blog once it's done!.

Math clock | For my brother-in-law, the algebra teacher
When I was teaching math, I kept a similar math clock on my wishlist. Now that I'm out of the classroom, I knew exactly what I would make my brother-in-law who is a first-year teacher. (This, plus plenty of worksheets, resources, and manipulatives that I haven't been able to part with.)

However, this process was so easy, you could personalize a clock with any idea you please. I found the clock at Big Lots and had the design printed as a photo poster from Sam's. A quick turn of the screwdriver, and I was able to remove the back of the clock and replace the original numbers with my poster.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Color Runnners...

"I cannot pretend to feel impartial about colors. I rejoice with the brilliant ones and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns."
-Winston Churchill

Today was the long-awaited Color Run in Charlotte. All of my C25K training (and beyond) paid off as I jogged through the course. 5K's go much faster when you're anticipating color stations at every kilometer mark and a color celebration at the end!!

I'll be scrubbing the blue tint from my skin for days, but I'm so glad that I was able to join this awesome group of friends on this colorful adventure.


And, because the photos don't quite capture the full effect, experience a little bit of the color magic yourself!

video

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My heart is heavy...

"The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next."
-Mignon McLaughlin

More than once I have tried to write this post, but my mind has been a jumble of emotions lately. Some of my close friends have been struggling with illness and grief, and my heart aches for them.

There is nothing I hate worse than feeling out of control... and it is not easy to know that there is very little I can do to make it all of their hurt and pain disappear.


So instead... I brainstorm ways to raise money and build support. I send cards and small gifts to let them know I am thinking of them. I am wary of when I am truly helpful, and when I am a nuisance. I offer up my prayers for strength and healing. I have faith in God's will.

If you find it as difficult as I did to find a card that shares the right sentiment for these tough situations, I offer you the graphic above for download. Pick your favorite color: red-orange, lime, turquoise, or cobalt.
 
Print it out as a card... post it on someone's Facebook page... share it with someone who needs to know that you care.

A couple of links I want to share:
  • Be The Match: connects patients fighting diseases like leukemia with marrow donors for life-saving transplants. Your contribution could be someone's cure.
  • Marrow Christianity: my pastor's new blog to reflect upon his journey with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and an upcoming blood marrow transplant.
  • Rest Ministries Pinterest Boards: a catalog of great ideas for dealing with illness.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Field trip for fashion...

“Plus my boots were made of awesome.”
-Gwen Hayes

My coworker and I took a "field trip" to Charming Charlie during lunch today. We could have spent days in there looking at scarves, purses and jewelry. However, we were on a mission. A mission for boots!

We tried them on, modeled them in front of the mirror, and even asked the store employees to call another store for our sizes. (Don't mind our tucked-in slacks!)


My friend walked out with that pair of brown ones, but I wasn't quite sure I had seen exactly what I wanted. (By the way, why do I always find tall friends?!?)


On the way home from work, I stopped in at Burlington and found a pair that was the right size and the right price! Can't wait to wear them this weekend!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Beach or Bust...

"Get a bicycle. You will certainly not regret it, if you live."
-Mark Twain

My Friday started at 3:15 in the morning. Still in my pjs, I dropped Rob, his bike, and his gear off in a grocery store parking lot.

While I headed back to bed for a power nap before work, Rob and fourteen of his cycling buddies began their epic bike ride... from Spartanburg to Charleston! In one day!

After working (almost) all day, I headed that way myself. In a car though! (I'm not as crazy as them!)

About 10 pm, we could see a slow line of lights coming down the road. From the driveway, we cheered on the group as they pedaled through the last of the 240+ miles.


The cycling group rented an amazing house (just across the street from the beach!) for the weekend. So on Saturday, Rob and I celebrated his accomplishment accordingly with a beach day.

We wandered up and down Sullivan's Island and the Isle of Palms, squishing our toes in the sand, looking in tide pools, and just enjoying each other's company.


On Sunday Rob joined the group on a short ride into the city. He wasn't sure if his legs (or crotch) could handle it, but apparently the pace was slow and leisurely.

While he rode, I enjoyed (well, as much as one can enjoy running) a 4-mile jog on the beach and then curled up with a magazine on a beach blanket. (I'm regretting not rubbing sunscreen on my legs first.)


To wrap up our epic weekend, we met up with my sister-in-law and favorite boys for a late lunch at Cracker Barrel. Their path from grandma's house happened to cross ours, and we were glad that they timed their journey so that we could spend an hour with them.


Even though our weekend was restful and relaxing (for me at least!), Monday morning still came early. But, it's back to the real world... at least until we escape on our mystery getaway this Friday.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

When the bubble bursts...

“I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do something I can do.”
-Helen Keller

As middle-class Americans, most of us live in a bubble. Even as globally-minded as we think we are, we don’t have a good understanding of what it’s like to be impoverished and struggle daily to survive. 

And, then sometimes our bubble pops… as mine did the other day when I read Kristen Howerton’s post the inconvenient truth about your halloween chocolate and forced child labor. Until then, I didn’t realize that most of our  chocolate is sourced from West African plantations where child labor is the norm, and child slavery is common. My stomach has been in knots, and I have been having trouble sleeping, thinking about life without M&M’s. And, then I just get angry at myself for being so wrapped up in little chocolate candies. Knowing that there are children and forced labor behind these treats, how can I justify even a fun-sized bag? 

As my sister said in our gchat conversation yesterday… “it looks like im giving up chocolate for a while....”  

Then of course, looking deeper, many items that we buy without thinking are regularly cited for workers’ rights violations. Sugar and coffee being two common violators. (Thank goodness I don’t drink coffee…) But, that just makes me wonder… are there others.

This revelation is hitting at a time when I am especially ripe for this sort of message. After reading Interrupted and several other blog favorites, I’m trying to embrace simplicity and “less is more,” and I even have Rob on board in that endeavor. I’m also finally reading Same Kind of Different as Me and A Lesson Before Dying, both of which speak to the ramifications of modern-day slavery. And, our women’s group at church is currently selling fair trade Bead for Life products. 

On one hand, I want to do everything I can to boycott these disreputable companies and to spread to word; on the other, I’m overwhelmed… we still have to eat, we have to work within a budget, and ohmygosh, we live in the middle of South Carolina, where there just aren’t a whole lot of convenient options. 

My sister recommended a website/iPhone app, called Free2Work, which rates brands and products by measuring a brand’s efforts to make sure that child and forced labor do not exist in its supply chain. (The irony is not lost on me that I’m accessing this information through a product from a company that scores an overall D rating.) 

After days of consternation after reading her first post, I also appreciated Kristen Howerton’s follow-up post, from problem to solution: practical ideas for an ethical halloween, where she provides levels of practical activism that address the chocolate issue. 

For myself, I’ve decided that this journey begins with heightened awareness and a new conscientiousness at the grocery store. It may feel a little risky and uncomfortable at times, but if I can have even the smallest impact, it’s got to be worth it. I’ll be checking product labels for more than just nutritional information, and after an initial browse of the Free2Work ratings, I’ll be avoiding Hershey’s, Nestle, Wal-Mart store brands, Pop Secret, McCormick spices, Zatarain’s, Lawry’s, Simply Asia (this list is more for my own reminder than yours). I’ll be looking for fair trade/organic chocolates and sugar, as well as seeking products made in the USA with a new urgency. 

What will your response be?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Somebody celebrated an anniversary...

"Love one another and you will be happy. It's as simple and as difficult as that."
 -Michael Leunig

Rob and I celebrated five years of marriage this weekend. In keeping with tradition, this year we themed our gifts to each other around "wood." (anniversary gifts from years past can be found here: Year One: Paper, Year Two: Cotton, Year Three: Leather, Year Four: Fruit)

I came downstairs for breakfast to find candy and a card propped up on Lincoln Logs. And, a promise for a weekend getaway to a cabin in a few weeks.


I set up a fire pit in the backyard, but unfortunately due to a late Saturday night at the football game and rain on Sunday, there was no fire for us this weekend.

And, although I had a makeshift screen set up outside on the exterior wall, we had to move our wedding photo slideshow indoors. We piled up in the papasan chair to relive our wedding day, from the early morning preparations to the helicopter chase before the "I do's" (that's what you get when your wedding is in downtown Atlanta), from the dance floor to the tired eyes after the party.

Want to listen to our Firepit Tunes playlist? Here it is...
  • "Anyone Else But You" by The Moldy Peaches
  • "Collide" by Howie Day
  • "Groovy Kind of Love" by Sonny & Cher
  • "I'll Be" by Edwin McCain
  • "Is this Love" by Bob Marley
  • "Kiss Me" by Sixpence None the Richer
  • "Power of Two" by Indigo Girls
  • "Say Hey (I Love You)" by Michael Franti
  • "Steal My Kisses" by Ben Harper
  • "The Way I Am" by Ingrid Michaelson
  • "You are the Best Thing" by Ray LaMontagne
  • "You're Still the One" by Shania Twain

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Fans for life...

"So it's up with the White and Gold..." 
-Georgia Tech fight song

10 years ago... bonding at Georgia Tech football games.

5 years ago... getting married at the Georgia Tech Alumni House.

Last night... still cheering on the Jackets!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Currently...

"Hitch your wagon to a star.” 
-Ralph Waldo Emerson


time: 3:05pm
location: back and forth between the couch and the kitchen
drinking: the last sips of my coke from lunch
eating: licking the mint icing and brownies off of my fingers--I went back to a recipe from childhood... I'm hoping it's as good as I remembered
listening to: my Dr. John station on Pandora, with the sounds of laundry from upstairs
feeling: grateful for finally having a "tribe" of women and excited (maybe overly) about spending the afternoon with them
loving: that it's finally not too early to start shopping and planning Christmas gifts
reading: Interrupted, by Jen Hatmaker for our first book club meeting next week
making: the second letter in my cross-stitch project, at this rate, it may take the whole football season to complete... but it's a great project for the evenings when the last thing I want to do is stare at a computer screen
wanting: to see my mom and sister... I'm going through withdrawals, and can't believe I have to wait until Christmas
anticipating: cooler weather, and the added benefit that it will be too cool for cycling... we've reached the point of the year where I'm tired of being a "cycling widow"


Sunday, September 09, 2012

This weekend...

"Weekends are a bit like rainbows; they look good from a distance but disappear when you get up close to them." -John Shirley 


This weekend, I/we
  • Cheered the local high school football team (which is ranked #1 in the state and #6 nationally!) to victory. Soaked in the "small-town" Southern vibe from the stands.
  • Manned the sand art table at the church's Fall Festival. Enjoyed chatting with new friends. Won college basketball tickets in the Silent Auction.
  • Designed flyers for two different freelance projects. Cleared out my freelance email inbox. 
  • Struggled against hormones which were wreaking havoc on my moods. Tried to keep my emotions and reactions in check against even the smallest stressors.
  • Treated ourselves to a frozen yogurt snack. Bought a birthday gift for my mother-in-law that we're excited to give her. Ate at a new-to-us barbeque place in town. 
  • Started my new "watch-and-stitch" craft project, meaning that I know have something to keep my hands busy while watching college football on Saturday evenings.
  • Worshipped at the early service. Listened to a sermon that spoke right to what I've been pondering on my own lately.
  • Washed four loads of laundry. Emptied (and re-filled) the dishwasher. Tidied up the house before it made me crazy.
  • Rocked out to my Shania Twain Pandora station. Needed those few moments to reignite my girl power.
  • Rode 28+ miles on the Swamp Rabbit trail. Pedaled around the Furman campus. Clipped in and out of my pedals more times than I care to count. 
  • Invited ourselves over to Thomas and Carmen's apartment. Ate post-ride burritos while catching up on each others' antics over the past month and a half.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The rules of mountaineering...

"In the mountains there are only two grades: You can either do it, or you can't."
-Rusty Baille

The three rules of mountaineering...

1. It's always further than it looks.

2. It's always taller than it looks.

3. And it's always harder than it looks.

But, it's almost always worth it!

We did a lot of research before embarking on our fourteener hikes. I highly recommend checking out 14ers.com. They have an extensive collection of trail descriptions, forums, and general climbing information.

Also, want to give a shout-out to our friend Ethan's organization, Colorado Fourteeners Initiative. They work on the trails throughout the summer, and their website recommends the most sustainable routes.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

WANTED: a vacation from our vacation!

"It's a round trip. Getting to the summit is optional, getting down is mandatory."
-Ed Viesturs

Our trip to Colorado last week was just was we needed. A break from the new day-to-day grind. A chance to reconnect and spend time together. With plenty of opportunities for adventure...


A quick recap:

Day 1 | Thursday: Flew into DEN. Explored Denver with our friends Blain and Katie.
Day 2 | Friday: Explored Denver. Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Denver Museum of Art. The boys biked up Lookout Mountain.
Day 3 | Saturday: Watched Stage 6 of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. I was at the festival in downtown Denver. The boys watched from their bikes after climbing the route themselves.
Day 4 | Sunday: Hiked Grays and Torreys Combo Trail (two 14ers in one morning!). Wandered Main Street in both Frisco and Breckenridge.
Day 5 | Monday: Hiked Mt. Bierstadt Trail (another 14er!). Met up with our friend Ethan in Leadville.
Day 6 | Tuesday: Made our way through Golden on the way back to Denver. Rocked out at the Mumford and Sons at Red Rocks Amphitheater.
Day 7 | Wednesday: Flew back to ATL. Then drove back to SC.

Needless to say, going back to work on Thursday was a bit of a challenge.
If you want to see more photos from the trip, check out our Flickr page.

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