Monday, March 31, 2008

Just Plum Good

“I'd like to read a book sometime. I've never read a book before. That'd be an adventure. I understand they have pages and everything. Yeah, I've got to do that sometime.”
-Frank Oz

Last weekend, I curled up with a book on the futon in the guest bedroom while Rob played old-school video games in there. It was a wonderful, relaxing way to spend Easter Sunday. The book of choice… No, not the best seller that I’ve been painstakingly trying to wade myself through. No, not the classic that is this month’s book club selection. No, this time I was curled up with Stephanie Plum.

I’ve collected all of the books in the series as they’ve come out in paperback. I wait patiently from the time I see the hardback released. I’ve let my friend Hillary borrow them when she needs some
new to read. She went on vacation a month or so ago, taking a couple more with her. When she got back, she returned those that she had borrowed and added two new ones to the collection, one of which I had somehow skipped. They’ve been sitting on my shelf, calling to me every time I walked by.
But last weekend, I took them up on their offer. I escaped into the world of Stephanie Plum, Joe Morelli, and Ranger. Rob made fun of me for reading my smutty chick lit, and I couldn’t really argue with him, except to say, “But they’re really good! There’s usually one good sex scene in each novel, but usually there are more exploding cars than sex. Mostly it’s just a story about a bumbling girl who naps criminals and bondees whether she plans to or not.

I get so pulled into the story that I could read them in one sitting, if there just wasn’t anything else to do. But since there is, I just eagerly wait until I can sit down with the book again. And when I finish a book, I’m always left wanting more. This time I was lucky enough to have two unread books, so when I finished with Ten Big Ones, I could start Twelve Sharp. However, after Twelve Sharp…

So, what did I do yesterday while Rob was playing basketball at the gym? I ran to the store to buy another one of Janet Evanovich’s books. Gotta feed the addiction.

Here's a pic from 2004, when I hung out all afternoon at Barnes and Noble waiting to meet Janet Evanovich.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Overheard last night

"Let's make a deal!"
-Game show hosted by Monty Hall

Conversation heard from out dinner table last night after a not-so-tasty meal of gnocche and marinara (another story, not worth telling, trust me!)

J: (flipping through the newest Crate and Barrel catalog) Oh, I love this chair! (pointing an image of the chair below) Honey, can I have this chair?R: (flipping through the weekly ads that come in the mail and then we throw away each week) Oh honey, can I have this Big Mac? (pointing at the sandwich shown below)
J: I'll make you a deal. If you let me get this chair, I'll let you get that Big Mac.
R: Well, do you have a coupon for your chair? I've got one for my Big Mac. I win!

And so, J was left pondering how wonderful the Marsden Chair would look in their living room.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Accept No Substitutes

“He goes by the brand, yet imagines he goes by the flavor.”
-Mark Twain

At work I’m busy in the midst of a big research project. This means going to people’s homes, observing them as they perform their normal routine, and then interviewing them about other aspects of their lives.

After writing the discussion guide and then moderating the interviews, I’m forced to consider my own answers to the questions. One particular question caught my eye, “What brands can you just not live without?” In these interviews, the context is your hair care routine, but what about other aspects of my life?

Rob and I just recently conversed about how we aren’t necessarily swayed by brand names. Maybe it stems from our similar backgrounds where we couldn't just go out and blow money on an expensive brand name. Or maybe we aren't comfortable advertising brands on our backs. Or maybe even we don't think that our lifestyle/personality actually fits the statements that are put forth by certain brands.

But I was curious; I wonder how many brands I am loyal to.
Well, after canvassing the drawers, cabinets, & closets in my apartment and mentally walking through the aisles of the local big box store, here goes…

  • Clean and Clear
  • Dove
  • Olay
  • Biore
  • Chapstick
  • Tampax
  • DenTek
  • Nausene
  • Chloroseptic
  • Target
  • Gap
  • Old Navy
  • Timberland
  • NCAA-Georgia Tech
  • Anolon
  • Pyrex
  • Coca Cola
  • Pillsbury
  • Mike’s Hard Lemonade
  • DiGiorno
  • M&Ms
  • Trident
  • Wendy’s
  • Qdoba
  • Mazda
  • Fontanini
  • Google
  • CNN
And of this list, the two that rate highest on this list. Those for which I accept no substitutes…

Tampax Pearl and Coca Cola Classic.
Tampons and sodas…can’t beat that!

Here comes Peter Cottontail

"And if the Easter Bunny had wings, he would fly.”
-John Reeves

The Easter Bunny came to our house this weekend. When Rob woke up, he found two chocolate bunnies (good chocolate, too!) tied up with pink bows on our dining room table. He asked where they came from, and I insisted, “The Easter Bunny must have come.” He just might have believed me. Or maybe not… :) But it didn’t matter much, because the chocolate was on it’s way to our bellies.
Also, take a look at me in my cute new dress that I posted about the other day. I wore it to church on Sunday. It was a little chilly this weekend, so the light aqua cardigan was the perfect accessory. I think I look totally cute, and maybe a little bit indie (although it's hard to tell if you don't see me from head to toe). It's the look I usually only dream of achieving, so please don’t tell me any different!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Looking for adventure

"I see my path, but I don't know where it leads. Not knowing where I'm going is what inspires me to travel it.”
-Rosalia de Castro

When Rob decided to attend his 3-week leadership training that started the day after our wedding, he asked me if I would be upset if he didn’t actually get promoted before the next session in March.

Well, here we are in mid-March. While I’m not upset that we postponed our honeymoon (our snow trip over New Years was absolutely a dream!), I’m getting a little bummed out that we are still living in the busy city, with no mention of a transfer in our future.

I’m ready to start over, to reinvent myself.

My job’s boring—even when I’m working on the stuff that I enjoy, I’ve gotten bogged down in some commitments that I really can’t leave if I’m still in town. I really want to live in a house with a yard in a city that doesn’t have too much traffic. I want some excitement. I’d jump at the chance to move out West or overseas—those of you who know me in person are probably thinking that someone must have hijacked my site, but no, I’m really itching to get away from here.

Perhaps it’s the first year of marriage that’s got me feeling tied down, but don’t get me wrong, I’d take Rob with me. I don’t know how many times I’ve suggested that he look for a job out in Arizona or someplace. But right now he’s dedicated to the company that he’s been with for 5 years, and they are located almost exclusively in the Southeast. Note to Rob’s boss: please recognize that Rob’s wife wants to move as soon as possible. While exotic, far away locations are ideal, she’ll be grateful for most anything.

Bon Appetit

“If people take the trouble to cook, you should take the trouble to eat.”
-Robert Morley

This weekend Rob and I discovered Trader Joe’s. My coworkers had spoken highly of the new grocery store, but it wasn’t until we tried a glass of “Two-Buck-Chuck” at my aunt’s house, that we decided to give it a go. In between storm warnings on Saturday we headed down towards Midtown.

Let’s just say that store is awesome! Rob and I pushed the buggy up and down the aisles oohing and aahing over their fresh produce and frozen meals, which will fit so perfectly into our new evening workout routine. We had to keep reminding each other that we have a tiny freezer and can only fit so much. The best part is that we got a whole week’s worth of meals, plus steak and wine for sixty dollars. You just can’t beat that.

After that grocery adventure we were just itching to cook. So here’s a sampling of the delicious food we ate this weekend. And, believe it or not, it was home-cooked in our kitchen.

Brunch: pancakes, scrambled eggs, and mango slices
Rob cooking up a stormDinner: steak, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, and Two-Buck-Chuck

Friday, March 14, 2008

Is it summer yet?

“In the depths of winter I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer."
-Albert Camus

Not that it's the depths of winter, but it sure has been a dreary day.
I picked up this sundress on sale at Target yesterday, and I just can't wait for summer.

Since the day was long and the work was spare, I spent the day planning a wonderful vacation for Rob and I. I guess I need to stop making these impulse buys so that we can afford to go!!

My Project List

“I'll need my whole lifetime to polish my craft."
-Eva Green

Written here so I can’t deny its existence nor forget one of the details.

  • Print and assemble Callie’s wedding invitations (Deadline May 31)
  • Sew sundress for bridesmaids’ luncheon (Deadline July 18)
  • Sew sundress for rehearsal dinner (Deadline July 18)
  • Refinish (strip and stain) bedroom furniture
  • Curtains and new throw pillows for the bedroom
  • Recover photo albums
  • Add embellishments to photo frames
Got to get up my nerve to start my own craft/stationery/design business!

  • Seedling Studio logo, business identity
  • Seedling Studio website
  • Print and package note cards
  • Time capsule projects: Wedding, Baby, and Graduation
  • Calendars: By day, by week

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tooth Tales

“Happiness is your dentist telling you it won't hurt and then having him catch his hand in the drill.”
-Johnny Carson

Rob and I had avoided the dentist for way too long, and finally had our first cleaning two weeks ago. Thank our lucky stars, Rob only had one cavity, and I had no cavities and only needed to refill the sealant on one of my back molars. So, today Rob and I were back in the dentist’s office this morning at 7:30 to get our procedures done.

Our dentist office is all hip. When you get called to the back, they hand you a remote for the TV and the remote for the massage chair and freely hand out laughing gas. It took me a while this morning to realize that the remote she gave me was for the TV in the ceiling—that’s right, IN the ceiling, since I was flat on my back for the procedure.

We left the dentist, both drooling and numb on one side of our face (Rob’s left and my right). Since we had gotten up early and suffered through the dentist, we treated ourselves to an hour nap before we headed to work.

It’s now almost 4:30 in the afternoon and the novacaine has pretty much worn off. And its place—pain. If I chew something on that side, a shot of coldness blasts through my nerves. This better not last very long.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Just Passed Me By

“Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street.”
-Zig Ziglar

I consider myself pretty artistic and pretty crafty. Not necessarily the most artistic or the craftiest, but I think I can hold my own. Granted, I had a great inspiration. Both my mom and my grandmother had quite busy craft/sewing rooms as I was growing up. Crafts were encouraged—at the age of three, I had a “craft center” where I could store all of my kid-friendly supplies. Through the years, I’ve received countless kits as gifts, taken numerous lessons, attended lots of workshops, and spent God-only-knows how much money at Michael’s, all for the sake of crafts.

My mom gave me her old sewing machine, circa mid-1980s, to use as my own. I’ve piddled around here and there, making a couple of gifts and hemming a few pants. But every time I sit down at the machine, I am bombarded with the fact that the sewing gene just didn’t get passed on. I love to sew, I really do. But I’m really not so good at it. And sometimes that’s just hard to come to terms with.

This weekend Rob asked me to patch one of the knees of an old pair of jeans. Granted, this pair of jeans is long past its prime, and I probably should have just refused to even touch them. But he had faith in me and my sewing “skills,” so I thought, I can probably handle this.

An hour later, I was mad at myself because I had totally ruined his pants. The first patch I put in was much too large, and so I attempted to narrow it. Then there were two huge puckers on either side, and then when I tried to rip out the stitches, I just ended up ripping the pants. If you can’t picture that, then you’re the lucky one.

I moped around for a bit, frustrated with my failure. But two days later I have a new outlook and a new goal. Callie’s wedding is in four months. And I’ll need something to wear to the bridesmaids’ luncheon and rehearsal dinner. That means I have four months to make a dress for myself, maybe even two!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Meet Maggie

“To attract men, I wear a perfume called 'New Car Interior.'"
-Rita Rudner

This weekend we welcomed a new member into our family. She has 4 wheels, 5 speeds, and 5 doors. She’s painted silver. And she’s got some zoom-zoom. Meet Maggie, our Mazda3 Wagon!
We spent all Saturday afternoon/early evening at the dealership test-driving three different models, haggling over deals, and then ultimately signing the paperwork to take Maggie home with us. Rob had two pages of questions to ask the salesman, and once he got done with that, he spent over an hour clarifying where the numbers came from on the lease. I’m glad that I married someone who is not afraid to ask questions. Rob asked if I was embarrassed by his persistence, but really he just exhausted me. In fact, the sales manager said that only twice before had he been asked how this particular number was calculated.

So five hours later, we shook hands with the two salesmen who had helped us and drove away in our new car.Then we went to On The Border to celebrate. It’s nice to know that you can buy a car, and then still afford to eat out that night!!

Sunday afternoon we went out to take the obligatory photos of our new ride. Rob, of course, was taking pictures of wheels, exhaust pipes, the engine, and other boring stuff, but I managed to persuade him to snap a couple of me as well.

Friday, March 07, 2008

My Vintage Travel Poster

“Once in a while you get a moment of clarity -- an inspiration -- and they don't come that frequently,”
-Paul Reiser

Yesterday I was working on a poster mockup for a church function, and I decided that I wanted to attempt vintage travel poster style.

I love vintage travel posters. There’s just something about the block colors and the bold typography that just makes me drool. I’d love to decorate a room in my house with travel posters from places all over the world.

But could I achieve this style myself??

I used this Japan poster as my inspiration.
And here is my result.
I absolutely love it. It's just a silly little flyer, but I want to hang it on my wall. I hope that my “client” likes it, too. Now I’m dreaming of the other things I can illustrate vintage travel poster style.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

My weeklong headache

“Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.”
-Woody Allen

Talk about a stressful week. Financially stressful, too—the worst kind. Fortunately the stress is due to having money rather than not having money. It’s just a matter of how to use the money.

First of all I screwed up our taxes by misunderstanding how to contribute to my retirement funds. I thought I understood (I even contacted the brokerage service before filing), but as I’ve looked into actually depositing money, I realized I knew very little. I’ve learned a lot about taxes and IRAs this week. It looks like we will be able to “fix” my mistake before April 15th, but man, I wish I had taken the time to get all of this information up front. And keep your fingers crossed that Rob agrees with my plan. Live and learn, right? Hope so.

Then, Rob’s got his eye on a leasing special on a Mazda3. I’m not very risky with my money at all, so much so that I probably miss some opportunities. But, we’re new at leasing vehicles, and I want to make sure that we fully understand what we’re getting into, from start to finish. It seems like this is a genuinely good deal, and my vehicle seems to be on the brink of total destruction (lots of little annoyances that are really starting to get on my nerves) with no warranty and no maintenance manual. I know financial gurus preach against leases, but I imagine that we won’t be keeping cars for 5-10 years anyway.

Oh Mazda3, you could be mine!!
Financial discussions make my head spin and my tummy queasy. I just want to curl up in a little ball and have someone else make the decisions for me. Honestly, I won’t actually ever make a decision for or against because I dread it so much.

Let’s hope that this all ends soon.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Wedding whirlwind

“Maybe love is like luck. You have to go all the way to find it."
-Robert Mitchum

Once again it was wedding weekend in our family. All of the “kids” in Rob’s and my immediate families will be married off in less than10 months. This time it was his sister’s turn. As a bridesmaid and Stephanie’s right-hand “woman,” I went down on Thursday to help plan, organize, and execute the event. We ran around town all day, picking up tuxes, getting the marriage certificate, getting hair cuts, picking up wedding party gifts, etc. Stephanie’s nerves were strung a bit tight, but I was there every step of the way to remind her to breathe.

Let’s just say, compared to mine, this wedding was a horse of a different color. As crazy and chaotic as it seemed like it was going, in the end, everything was just right for them.

Stephanie looked absolutely beautiful, and Dan spit out his chewing tobacco and put down his beer just long enough to say, “I do.”
Guests and the wedding party had to walk between a pen of barking hunting dogs and a pen of pigs to get to the ceremony because the event was staged at “the shack” which Dan’s father built behind their house, where all of the family gatherings occur. One of the bridesmaid’s dresses was ordered 7 sizes too big, but a very helpful alterations lady basically rebuilt the dress. Everything was a little bit chaotic—no one knew exactly what to do, but the weather couldn’t have been any better—70 degrees, just little bit of wind, and not a cloud in the sky. The ceremony started a half hour late, but the seats were filled with their friends and family. Stephanie had made the bouquets and boutonnieres herself, and no one could tell they weren’t real. Their son, Chase, stood still long enough for a five-minute ceremony, but refused to stand for the family portraits. Stephanie rode back to the house on a golf cart to change her shoes before the reception, and the groom and his boys quickly changed out of their tuxedos with tails and into more comfortable jeans and a t-shirt. The bride and groom cut the top layer of the cake, but they forgot to announce it anyway. There was a iced tea fountain and just enough barbecue to fill everyone’s tummies.

The after-party was held an hour and a half after the reception in the backyard of Steph and Dan’s trailer. Many of the guests went home to change before heading back for the party. An tiny dance floor was laid down in the dirt, but the kids danced on it all night long. The dj played mostly old slow country songs, however there were a few newer hits and a couple of dancing songs mixed in. The out-of -towners and the teenagers hung out around one fire barrel, while the local folk hung out around the other. The out-of-towners filled their glasses with champagne and mixed drinks, while the local folk were never far from a can of Natty Light. A “nice” port-a-potty was set up on site to handle those kinds of emergencies; however, there wasn’t a light nearby, so most people ended up going inside anyway. Stephanie and Dan (and occasionally Chase) danced to several slow songs throughout the night. It got a little bit chilly as the sun went down, but Rob’s tuxedo jacket kept me warm. Apparently after we left, the police showed up with a warning about the noise level. But when they returned at 12 am, the music had been cut off, and most of the guests had already walked back down the street to their homes.

A few pics from the big day.
My nephew, Chase, the ringbearer. Note the rifle in hand.
My handsome husband and his sister, the bride.
The whole clan. My in-laws.
The bridesmaids. The three of us in front had a blast all weekend.
The bride and groom on the front porch of "the shack."
Steph as she rides back to the house for flip flops.
Birdseed toss. Good-bye and good luck!
The happy couple on the dance floor.
Rob and I at the afterparty.
Rob tearing up the dance floor. The boy's an extrovert, but the cup in hand doesn't hurt.

I love Steph like a sister. I really do. I hope that they both find true happiness together.

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