Friday, January 29, 2010

So long, suckas

I'm taking a three day weekend during which I expect to gain roughly 50 pounds. You'll get a meltyfried rundown upon my return to this here blog. Until then, my comrades!

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Thursday, January 28, 2010


First, don't laugh. Second, prepare to be amazed.

I'm signing up to do a 5k. As in, I'm planning on r-u-n-n-i-n-g three-ish miles. Without stopping. Without muttering bad words. Without crying.

This, from a girl who refused to run the Mile Run in elementary school and who could (and almost does) survive happily on just cheese and crusty breads.

Luckily, headphones are allowed and my husband agreed to run at my pace, no matter how much it pains him.

We haven't officially signed up yet, but we will. It's kind of why I'm posting this. A promise is a promise!

Anyone have any suggestions for fun 5ks in Des Moines? That are flat?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hairy situation

You may remember a few weeks back when I set out to paint our hall (and entryway). It's just about finished (we're just waiting on a small order from Snapfish to fill our barren frames), but the key here is that I painted nearly three weeks ago.

Anywho, I went to see my hair stylist today and as soon as I sat down, she asks, "So, what were you painting?"

"How'd you know?"

She picked through my hair, making me feel like a monkey, and pulled out a few teensy tiny paint flecks. "It's right here."

Sad, but true. Fancy-pants shampoo doesn't wash out paint. This has been a public service announcement from the girl who will now wear headgear while painting.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I make stuff!

This past weekend, while it was a nearly tropical 40 degrees and an equally tropical monsoon-ish type thing here in the Great State of Iowa, I managed to finish my first scarf (with the help of instructions from class, and a few YouTube videos, because I just couldn’t grasp the whole bind off movement). Here the old girl is, in all her neck-warming glory:

I have to admit, I’m pretty smitten with knittin’. It’s the most calming hobby I’ve ever had, aside from napping. You just sit back and twiddle your thumbs and voila – you made something worth wearing in public. I think that is saying something. The last time I wore something I made in public, it was definitely tie-dyed and totally signed by all my BFFs (because we won’t count the time I spilled soup on my white shirt at work and sported a nice tomato stain all afternoon right? Right.).

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wedding decorations get a second chance

Since I spent lunch hour after countless lunch hour scouring Goodwill for containers for my DIY dried flower centerpieces, I haven't been able to give up my collection of vases. I just worked too hard to find them.

So, with the Christmas decorations gone and our big wooden dining room table looking a little nekkid, I got crafty and stayed true to my mildly ghetto ways in the process.

I took wo matching vases and filled them with leftover rice that also made an appearance in the wedding centerpieces. Then, I topped them off with left over votives.

A quick rummage through my bag of clothes destined for Goodwill revealed a sweater whose sleeves I sacrificed in the name of table decor (and no, I didn't donate a sleeveless sweater to Goodwill, I'm saving the scraps for some yet to be determined project).

I pulled two mini trifle dishes from our cabinet and plopped in two oranges, which are blissfully on sale this time of year. I tossed all this stuff on the table in a square/checkerboard set-up.

The result?
A centerpiece that echos the coziness of winter and reminds me that warmer weather isn't too far off. Plus, it was free and gave me an excuse to reuse my beloved thrift-store wedding scores.

How'd you battle post-holiday table nudity?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Apath-eat - What to do when your pantry leaves you uninspired

Fact: I adore trying new recipes (so I can gobble them right up, of course).
Myth: I'm good at making grocery lists that include everything on a recipe.

Oh, see how that might not work out well?

It's frustrating and leaves our kitchen bursting with a menagerie of spices, powders, sauces, meats, veggies and other ingredients. Turns out, buying a big bottle of something when the recipe calls for just a pinch is my other hobby, aside from completely forgetting key ingredients and then abandoning a recipe all together.

Fact: The mister and I watch three things: Food Network, Wheel of Fortune and Golden Girls.
Myth: We are secretly 90 years old.

Anywho, we've been hooked on Chopped with Ted Allen for a while. Chefs get baskets of hideously mismatched ingredients and make the best of it. See where we are heading?

We were making pizza for a friend using the tastiest dough recipe ever, from My Bread, and had some extra dough. What to do, what to do, right?

Enter: my genius. I suggested we write down some of the unloved ingredients on scraps of paper and choose three to become our second pizza. Possibly my best idea of 2010 (so far). We pulled parsley, garbanzo beans and bacon - thus creating the Italian Prairie Hog. We infused the parsley in olive oil, chopped the beans and topped with bacon bits. I know, it sounds a little bizarre, but it really worked! The parsley brightened up the beans and the bacon added a nice crunch and saltiness to the whole thing. A little manchego left over from our wedding cake topped the whole thing off with a little extra salty richness.
Added bonus: we finished the fresh parsley that would have otherwise been tossed, my pantry is one can lighter and there was bacon involved in yet another dinner.

We're doing this again! It's perfect for clearing things out, using up leftovers and curing the occasional food boredom.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

On busyment

Yes. A made up word. For a person who reads grammar and language books for fun, I sure do take some liberties with the English language.

Anywho, I must say that my crafting extravaganza is going well so far. Of the three projects I currently have going, I have to say that knitting is my favorite. I just learned last night, but I am totally digging how much I’ve already learned. Calligraphy is nice, too, but I get the distinct feeling it might be too precise for a gal like me. Chunky, imperfect knits, though? Lovely. And the third project – the redo of our side entry way and hall – is of course not fun. Rewarding and worth it, but not all that relaxing. More on these later.

With all this going on, I’ve barely had time to sit still this week and I forgot how much I missed that. The holidays were busy, too, but it was a different kind of busy. November and December were all about hurrying up and finishing so I could relax and enjoy. A very good kind of busy and a very worthy end, but kind of stressful. Now, the busyment is more focused with tangible results. Just like vacuuming with a Dyson is more fun because you can see the dirt, this kind of busyment is more calming.

What’s your favorite kind of busy?

Friday, January 8, 2010

And in this corner, sporting blonde 50s wood, we have...

The hallway.

AKA, my project. You see, I love my hallway because there is a ton of storage : one full sized closet (seen a little in photo C for Clothes and Crates of Crud) and one linen/broom closet (seen in photos A for A lot of storage and D for Dyson's, I love that vacuum). I also love that it won't take much paint for the walls.

Here is what I don't love: acres and acres (in my mind) of this strange 50s wood. I just don't dig it. I don't get it. I want to paint it! And so, I'll be sanding the whole mess of cabinets and trim and slapping on some fresh white paint.
The walls, currently a non-offensive ivory color, will be punched up just a bit. And the horrendous beast (photo B for butt ugly - because I'm 12) will be relegated to the Habitat for Humanity Restore where someone who adores such things can give it a good home.

Ptooey! Yuck. Blech. Disgusting.

The wall art (photo E for Eventually, I'll have a better place for these) will be replaced by some snapshots we took on our honeymoon and maybe a wedding picture, all hung in smart little white frames. Right now, we have what I once called my "grown up deorations." Sigh. Yes, it's a poster frame filled with postcards. But, have pity. I'd lived in an undecorated, windowless room in chilly Wellington, NZ for six months prior - my decorative senses were weak and fragile.

So, here it is, in all of it's before glory. Get ready to be amazed by the transformative powers of blood, sweat and a tiny bit of spackle.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Iowa-nna live here, really.

So, it’s damn cold in Iowa. No way around it. Damn cold. And windy. And snowy. And COLD.

And remember, I came here voluntarily from St. Louis, a delightful place where winter temperatures almost never hit single digits and 4 inches of snow halts life as we know it. I didn’t know how good I had it.

But, here I am, an Iowan-on-purpose, braving winter number nine in this frozen place. It’s days like these, when the temperature might not ever rise above zero and the view out my window looks like this:

That I must remind myself why I chose this place:

  • It tries! I’ve never seen a city try so hard (and succeed) at changing its personality. Since I’ve been here, the growth and diversity has astounded me. I dig the energy of it all. It’s like watching a really good makeover show and getting the added benefit of increasing property values.
  • Access. Professionally, I’ve had some amazing experiences in this city that I probably wouldn’t have had in a larger one. I’ve gotten to sit down with the leaders of prominent businesses and take the lead on regional marketing and communications projects. I’ve gotten to get to know lots of young professionals and I feel truly connected to the community.
  • Short commutes. Only in blizzard conditions does my drive to/from work last more than 20 minutes.
  • My house. I never thought I could love a house with one bathroom in Iowa, but hey, life is surprising.
  • Excellent restaurants. Some of the best food I’ve ever eaten was in Des Moines. Places like Lucca, Alba, Miyabi 9, Django and CafĂ© di Scala are raising the bar and I’m glad to support them. Also, Tasty Tacos.
  • Husband, cat, turtle. All of which I have acquired by way of the great state of Iowa.
  • Summer. I appreciate it way more than I did when I lived in the Lou. Windows open, yard-mowing, gardening, and the occasional afternoon cocktail in the sun are all a little better when you’ve shoveled snow drifts that reach your hips.

That’s not a full list, but enough to power me through the rest of this week. Tomorrow, the HIGH here is negative two. Ay yi yi.

Why are you where you are?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Rousing success on the cinnamon front

OK. Baking is usually messy. BUT, this time - these cinnamon rolls - were a tornado. Wrapped in a hurricane. Babysitting twin two year olds.
Behold - the chaos of my kitchen during the baking (and heck ya, that's a wine glass. Mrs. A, real-life baking idol and over at Our Poverty With a View, has taught me nothing if not, "Always drink when baking.")Disturbing, right? Well, much like the mamas I know, I have to say that all that labor was worth it. Check out the little darlings rising a bit before they hit the oven.
And, the finished product! Crispy, yet gooey. Pioneer Woman again saves the day. The hubs will wake up to a fabulous birthday tomorrow, no doubt.

PS This recipe made cinnamon rolls for life. They spilled forth from the Kitchen Aide like freshmen to a kegger. Make room in the freezer, is all I'm saying.

Adventures in Cinnamonary

My brand spankin’ new husband is turning a whole year older tomorrow. To celebrate, we’ll have a hearty and lovingly prepared breakfast of gooey, mapely, cinnamon tantalization. I’m excited to make this recipe, but let’s be honest. I’m nervous. I mean, usually, I test the baking waters on safe occasions. Tuesday, Arbor Day, the cat’s birthday – you get the idea. So, making a Very Special Breakfast is a tad daunting. Especially because if I screw up, I’ll have to head out in the unnaturally cold Iowa morn to get some piping fresh donuts and hope they result in an equally awesome birthday.


I do not want to do that. Oh, I really do not want to do that.

Wish me luck!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Blast from the past: Cold weather leg garb

The post below was written by me a while ago and then got lost in my laziness. It seems pertinent because the high in my world today was negative 3, I think

The seasons changed overnight here in Iowa. It's that perfect, crispy fall air that got me thinking about how I might keep warm and toasty if the wedding day is cold in the way only Iowa can be.

Right now, I've got lovely purple peeptoes with big, gaudy bows and a plan to have dark red tootsies peeking out. If it's super cold, though, I'm going to don some eggplant-colored tights I bought five years ago in New Zealand (fact: tights and skinny jeans were huge there at least two years before they caught on in the U.S. Kiwis are adventerous dressers.) and cute grey felt pumps I picked up at Payless a few weeks ago.

Seriously, how cute is this!

Almost cute enough to make me wish for some 30-degree weather and light snow!

I've also got an antique mink shawl from my grand-grandma that I could toss over my shoulders. I'm not normally an animal pelt-wearing gal, but this dainty 50s heirloom is the exception to the rule. Let's focus on the loveliness of wearing something from my great-grandma and not the ickiness of wearing a carcass, shall we?

Do you have alternate accessory plans for your wedding day?

Disclaimer: My actual wedding day turned out to be a total surprise - 70 and sunny in November in Iowa! I was sweating and bare legged and peep-toed and it was glorious. But, I did throw that mink on for a few photo opps later on in the evening. It was too pretty to let lay on the back of my mom's chair.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

For next year

Our new(ish) house boasts a basement fireplace. Until Christmas decorations went up, I neglected it and it got the regular basement treatment (re: we decorated it with junk that didn't make the cut to stay upstairs).

I know this isn't the most timely post, but I did want to share how I crafted up the fireplace for hella cheap.

I bought a cheap-o straw wreath at Michael's and wrapped it in some lux green yarn. A few faux pinecones and tiny ornaments and I was set. ($13)

I picked up a few floral cones and wrapped them in rustic ivory yarn. ($10)

The finished product! I also added three vases with some rice, ribbon and gold taper candles to balance the tree trio ($3). With our socks and mini trees, we were all set for Santa!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Another statistic

If I were a betting woman, I'd wager that 97.5% of bloggers write a post at about this time making known their resolutions and plans for the next 365 days. Because I'm such an on-again/off-again member of the blogging world, I figured I'd spare you all the lofty goals and ambitions of a whole year and stick to the next few weeks.
  1. Marathon levels of craftiness. In January, I'm taking a calligraphy workshop (at Ephemera here in Des Moines) AND a beginner's knitting class (also at Ephemera). I'm also plotting a three day weekend in which I redecorate our side entry way and hallway.

Um, yep. One thing. But it has subthings!

I've never knit (knitted?) before and my handwriting is wildly unpredictable. Also, painting is one of those things I think I like, but soon I realize I don't. Like butter pecan ice cream or ellipticals. But, with grad school behind me, my brain is itching to learn new things. My poor eyes are tired of blonde pine and cream walls. So, knit and calligraph (?) and paint I shall!

I'll report from the front lines of craftiness as all this transpires. Happy New Year!

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