Friday, April 30, 2010

Curtain Change-up

If you couldn't tell by the title of my post today, I may be watching too much baseball lately. Last week Justin and I attended not one, not two, but three baseball games within six days. We went to a Cubs game with my parents on Sunday, then headed to the south side for a White Sox game on Wednesday with some friends and Friday night with more family. But that is unrelated to what I have for you today, the Curtain Change-up.

Sometimes after spending a lot of money, time, and effort decorating a room, I look at it and feel that it isn't quite right. Is the color slightly off? Did I buy the wrong area rug? Or is the furniture too big or too small for the space? It's only natural to always be evaluating, adjusting, and finessing a design/decor as you mature and your tastes change (heck, I do it all the time!). However, this is what I was feeling a couple months after the big Dining Room Decoranza of November 2009 (imagine a monster truck rally advertising voice, it was that big). (If you missed it and want to get caught up, read about it here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

I knew that it wasn't the table (I love the table!), the art was spot-on, and since I am already on the hunt for a new buffet console, I didn't consider that the just-not-right thing. So, all that was left were the curtains.

Before painting the dining room, I had these inexpensive panels from Ikea hanging up.

But after painting the dining room, I was bit by the DIY bug, and wanted to sew my own silk curtains. So, I locked these panels up in a far away place (known as the office) where they could have never been seen again. Well...they're back!

I had to bring them back into the space because I love their graphic pattern.

They add variety and texture to the wall with the window, which balances all that is happening on opposite wall.

So, what happened to the silk curtain panels I made? Now they live in the freshly painted living room! They look so luxe stacked on the ends and as you can see, we also hung up bamboo blinds to finish out framing the window. I love these particular ones, which are from JC Penney, because they have gorgeous texture and the dark espresso color pulls the paint color we chose for the dining room table into the room. (Previously we did not have any form of covering that we could pull down to block light or peepers.)

And to tease you a little bit, check back Monday to see what I have up my sleeve for our yellow-brick-road 1/2 bath on our first floor.

Hint: It'll have you saying "they'rrrrre grrrrrrreat!"

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hey four eyes!

That's right, I got new glasses.

And since it's been 4+ years since I've bought new ones, I had to share them with y'all.

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Leitfaden not Lightsaber

This may just be a concept for a sewing machine, but if this is any indication of the direction sewing machine technology is heading, sign me up.

The designers of this beautiful machine are Monika Jakubek and Anna Müller and I believe they are from Germany. After checking out their individual websites it made me sick to find out that one is only a few years older than me and the other is a few years younger! (Talk about showing up me and all other 20-30 year-olds.)

What makes this sewing machine so unique is not just its design, but what it can do. The Leitfaden (as the designers call it) can color match thread to any fabric or swatch. It uses ink to instantaneously dye the thread as the machine is sewing. This means no more bins full of thread or searching for the perfect color match to your vintage fabric because this baby can make it. Hallelujah!

Based on the photos from Anna Müller's site, it looks like there is a reader or scanner on the the top of the arm of the machine where you hold up your color swatch or fabric.

Then as you are sewing along, the thread comes out of the machine matching your selection.

Another awesome new feature is the laser that displays the stitching pattern and alignment before you run the fabric through.

And even though this product is in the conceptual stage, I wouldn't be surprised to see new and exciting things coming from Singer or Brother in the near future. (At least I hope!)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ottawa Moose Miles 2010

Last Saturday Justin and I participated in the second annual Ottawa Moose Miles 5K run (3.1 miles). Last year was the first time either of us ran a 5K race and we didn't do too bad. I placed third in my gender age group with 27:22 and Justin placed third in his gender age group with 24:03. Not considering ourselves runners, we trained for a month or two leading up to our first 5K race, but after finishing were beat and sore. So, throughout the last year, we have been running regularly and even ran a 4 mile race on Thanksgiving.

However, in this year's Moose Miles, Justin finished in 24:08 and I finished in 26:30. And even though there were double the runners this year (just shy of 300, compared to about 150 last year), I shaved almost a whole minute off my time and placed first in my gender age group!

Justin's parents also participated in the race, but it was even more exciting that I did so well this year because my parents were visiting and joined in on the fun by walking the 5K with Justin's mom. In fact, we recruited a few other people to run as well and two of them placed in their age groups too.

But no matter if I placed first, fourth, or last, the course was extremely challenging (featuring 2 hills both ways) and Saturday was so cold and windy that I was happy to complete it under my goal time of 27 minutes. Now I'm looking forward to the next race!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Blog Love: The Snap Flower Girls

The lovely ladies at The Snap Flower Girls introduced me on their blog yesterday as a featured vendor!

The co-owners of the blog are Natalie from ZuZu's Petals (my wedding florist) and Gina from Gina Cristine Photography. I answered a few questions and supplied them some never-before-seen photos of my wedding invitations. Visit their blog to check it out!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Easter Chair

Over Easter weekend we adopted a quirky wing chair from my grandma and added it to our furniture collection. In our extended family this chair has been lovingly referred to as Ugly Chair, but I say no more! Because I acquired it on Easter and the colors remind me of early spring, I have renamed it the Easter Chair.

It wasn't easy to determine where to put our new chair and it ended up sitting in our entry way for about a week before I found the perfect spot. I originally thought I would put it in one of the guest rooms, but this baby needed to be seen so I didn't feel right locking it up in a room where rarely anyone would see it. Therefore, I decided it would look best in our dining room. The colors in the chair work great with the green wall color and it adds an eccentric flare to the space. (See Easter Chair in all her glory below.)

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the dark wood legs on the chair match the dark brown color we painted the dining room table and chairs.

This photo shows you a close-up of the upholstery fabric. These birds (I think they are pheasants) are why my family dubbed it the Ugly Chair for so long, but I actually love them.

Passing furniture around within our family is not a new concept, and I'm sure not unique to my family. Furniture can be extremely expensive and sometimes swapping a chair or couch can really refresh an otherwise tired space. Handing down furniture also saves adding more garbage to our landfills; therefore, I am all for it. In fact, if someone is giving something away or is trying to get rid of something, give me a call. If I don't want it, which is rarely the case, I bet I'll be able to find someone else that will take it. Have you adopted anything from a family member that they disliked, but you loved?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hawaii Part 5

This is the final post of photos and commentary from our vacation to Hawaii. (If you missed the first four, here's part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4.)

If you remember from my post last week, I told you that in the wee hours of the morning on our sixth day on the big island, Justin and I jetted back to Honolulu for two more days of fun in the sun, before heading back to Chicago.

It was a quick plane ride from Hawaii to Oahu, only about 30 minutes in the air, but once we touched down and had our luggage, we didn't know we would wait an hour and a half for our rental car. Nonetheless, after standing around with about 50 other people, as everyone else get their cars but us, we finally got ours and were off like a herd of turtles (as my mom would say).

Our first stop was Pearl Harbor. We spent all morning and an hour or two in the afternoon walking around the USS Missouri, the USS Bowfin submarine, and the memorial for the USS Arizona. We took a short bus ride to reach the USS Missouri and were greeted by this grand entrance. Little did we know, but the day we visited was the day before good 'ol MO was being officially reopened after being in dry dock for some time as she was getting some restoration and body work done. And let me tell you, she looked pretty good!

You can't tell me this isn't at least a little intimidating.

In the photo below, look closely, see where the side rail is dented? That is the only damage that a one-seater, Japanese fighter plane made when he flew into the side of the ship. The plane basically bounced off and crashed into the water.

After touring the exterior of the ship, we went below deck to check out the living arrangements. I was captured by these racks of mugs. They looked so deserted, but also like they belonged in a diner.

At this size, you can't read the white sign very well, but it said "5-inch Gun Characteristics." So, I, of course, had to show it up with my guns, which I believe are closer to 11".

After spending a little more than an hour on USS MO, we went back across the bay and checked out the USS Bowfin submarine. It didn't take long to walk through it, since it's tiny, but it was still fascinating to learn how it was operated and how people lived on it. My dad was in the navy for the first few years of my life and he warned me that the Bowfin is about 1/2 the width of the one he was on. Yikes!

It was only fitting that the last stop on our tour around Pearl Harbor Bay was to pay our respects at the USS Arizona Memorial.

This beautiful structure spans across the middle section of the sunken battleship, creating a cross if you saw them from above. According to its architect, Alfred Pries, the design of the memorial, "wherein the structure sags in the center but stands strong and vigorous at the ends, expresses initial defeat and ultimate victory....The overall effect is one of serenity. Overtones of sadness have been omitted to permit the individual to contemplate his own personal responses...his innermost feelings."

I was pleasantly surprised to enter the memorial and see it bare and minimal. The cutouts allow tropical breezes to flow through and provide a natural air conditioning to the space. (The one creepy thought I had while walking around the memorial was that it felt like I was in a rib cage.)

On one end, there is an observation area where you can look down and see the sunken ship. Here's a photo of what you can see of USS Arizona looking down into the water at that point.

In various spots surrounding the Memorial we saw oil surface and ripple out from below the surface, creating beautiful kaleidoscopes of color. I overheard a woman say that the oil that continues to leak out from somewhere in the ship and they call it tears from the ship.

Does this look familiar? This is the tower that was part of the setting in the 2001 movie Pearl Harbor. The funny part is that in the movie, it is used as an air traffic control tower and in actuality, the tall tower is a weather station and the lower one on the left is air traffic control.

The rest of our first day (Day 6 of our trip) was spent checking in to our hotel at the Waikiki Beach Sheraton and walking around the area, doing a little shopping, and grabbing some dinner. (The photo below is the view down to the infinity pool from our room's balcony.)

The next day (our last and final day of vacation) we woke early and got moving. There was a lot we wanted to do and see before we had to get to the airport that evening for our flight and didn't want to waste a minute of our time. First, we went to a flea market/swap meet at the Aloha Football Stadium. There wasn't anything too exciting there so we did one loop and jumped in the car to go to our next destination, North Shore Beach on the north side of Oahu.

We read in our guide book that this beach is famous for its waves, and is a hot spot for surfing competitions. However, it failed to mention that the beach is beautiful as well, way more stunning than Hapuna Beach on the Big Island. The sand was soft, clean, and perfectly colored and the water had wonderful blue hues that changed each time a new wave crashed. The day we were there, we heard that the surf was low, but at 6–10 feet, Justin and I were still impressed and listened to the "do not swim" signs.

See what I mean about the color? Gorgeous.

Even though, we were not permitted to swim, there were tons of surfers trying their best to make the most of the small waves.


Here we are relaxing in the sand, watching the surfers.

After getting our fill of sand and surf, we set off to go back to our hotel. Instead of taking the same way we drove to get the North Shore, we took the scenic route and circled back around the east side of the island. En route I read about La'ie Point just off of Kamehameha highway which boasts the best view of a sea arch the ocean punched out of an island not too far off the coast, and convinced Justin to stop by. Aside from the light drizzle and the packed parking lot, it was very cool and frightening to imagine the ocean so rough it beat a hole through that patch of land.

Once we were back at the hotel, we packed up our things, walked around the Waikiki Beach area for a little while longer, and were back on a plane in no time flat. Ah, what I wouldn't give to go back right now...aloha! (These photos are just a sampling of pictures I took on our trip. If you want to see them all check out our flickr page.)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Stick it to the wall

After painting the small stretch of hall on our first floor, I pulled out an Uppercase Living vinyl wall decal (that I received as a shopping bonus well over two years ago) and applied it to the blank canvas. I have seen wall decals pop-up online, in home shops, and craft stores all over the place, and I think it's safe to say they have definitely become a trend.

Eventually, I want to hang photos or art on this wall, but because our thermostat is smack dab in the middle, I haven't found anything that I think would work well around the white box. That's why, I chose to use my freebie to temporarily spruce up the space. See the photo below? It was yearning for some lovin' don't you think?

Here are the few things I used to stick the decal to the wall.
1. A level
2. Painter's tape
3. Wall decal
4. A hard piece of plastic, such as a credit card, id, or spatula (not pictured)

A wall decal, such as this one from Uppercase Living, is typically a thin vinyl material that has been laser cut to the design you choose. A backing layer is the piece of paper that the vinyl design is adhered to and transfer tape is the transparent sheet layered on top of the wall decal that helps you apply the decal to the wall (see the diagram below).

Hanging a wall decal is simple but can be difficult or frustrating the first time around. Depending on how large the design is, having a second person to help may be a good idea.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hoo are you? Hoo? Hoo?

A few years ago, I learned that Joann Fabric stores carry a small selection of home decor items that typically changes each season, meaning lots of good clearance finds. But contrary to what you are imagining right now, the items are actually modern and fresh. (In fact, the wall art in our master bath is from Joann's.) So, after returning to Joann's for which felt like the 18th time last week, I couldn't pass up this clearance-aisle, 1960s-inspired ceramic owl statue anymore. (If I remember correctly, I think he was about $40 originally and rang up $10.)

As soon as he was out of my Joann Fabric's shopping bag, Harley and Benny were at the top of this media stand in our freshly painted living room checking him out, then The Who's "Who Are You" immediately started playing in my head.

(Look, a squirrel!)

Now, I'll probably have it in my head all day, but at least I've got this guy to thank.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Hawaii Part 4

Our last day on the big island of Hawaii, was serene and relaxed. We started the day off with a short two-mile run around the Waikoloa resort loop drive and landed on the hotel's beach for some R&R and one last look at our hotel's beautiful, private bay.

On our first day, we were told that the hotel's beach is one of the most popular places for sea turtles because it is very shallow, which provide safety from deeper waters. As we soaked up the rays, so were some of these large sea turtles. We saw a few hanging out beach side and swimming around in the water.

During our run that morning, we passed a Hilton resort also located in the Waikoloa beach area, so, later in the day, Justin and I walked up to check it out. It was huge, much bigger than the Marriott, but it didn't have ocean front property—nah, nah, nah. However, it was so large that it not only had a tram shuttle taking guests from end to end, but also a man-made canal with boat shuttles as well.

The Hilton also had exotic birds placed along the canal and a dolphin pool where guests could swim with them. This particular dolphin kept circling the pool and would turn his? her? head to face one eye up to look at me. I think it was flirting with me.

In the hotel's man-made pool, were a couple of sea turtles. Just like the size of the resort, this pool was ginormous, it was so large that guests could rent paddleboats and tool around the water and feed the turtles. This one was mowing the leaves down so, I appropriately named him Starvin' Marvin.

After exploring the Hilton, we went a few miles north to Hapuna beach. Our travel book described this beach by saying if you were to imagine the most perfect beach in the world, you would be picturing Hapuna beach. After seeing it first hand, I wouldn't go so far to say it was perfect, but it wasn't bad.

Right on Hapuna beach is the Prince Hotel, yet another amazing resort, and just outside they have this beautiful walkway lined with perfectly white palm trees. I couldn't pass up the chance to snag another photo.

We closed our last day by dining on oysters and fruity, cocktail drinks at the Prince Hotel's Coast Grille as we watched the sun set on Hapuna beach.

Bright and early the next morning we were off again, jetting back to Oahu for two more days of fun in the sun before heading back to Chi-town. FYI: If you missed the first three parts of our Hawaiian vacation, you can catch them here, here, and here.
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