Sunday, January 22, 2012

I Heart Technology

I wasn't supposed to be taking pictures, because she told me not to, but I did take a few because....that is how I roll. 

I like to have pictures of things. 

So when my sister, Erin, left for Rwanda, I took this picture at the airport.

It was pretty much a terrible evening. 
Ugly crying. 
Sad goodbyes. 
You get it. 

But do you know what is AWESOME? 


It is no surprise that I heart technology. 
But I especially heart technology because it means I can chat with my sister easily halfway across the world. 

See? Halfway across. 

Are you thinking, "So....exactly WHERE IS Rwanda?"
Because I was. 
So here it is:

I didn't know it was so little!

Back to the main point:
I heart technology. 

Because we have Blackberries, I am able to BBM (Blackberry Message -- like IM) with her any time of the day or night. Well...not anytime because she is 8 hours ahead. But you get the idea. Also because of Apple we are able to Facetime too! She got an iPod Touch for graduation and Adam got an iPad for Christmas (from his super awesome wife) so we can Facetime on there when she is somewhere where there is WiFi! Because of technology she can Facebook and email too!

I feel SO lucky to be able to have all of these modes of communication right at our fingertips. It is so much easier even than when she went to the Peace Corps in 2008 (2008, right?) . 


Friday, January 20, 2012

Being a Landlord

Unfortunately we own three townhouses. 

We do not live in a townhouse.

That means we are (also unfortunately) landlords of three townhouses.

Only one of them is my fault though.

I bought my townhouse in 2006 when it was still a good idea to invest by buying a house. I lived at home for a year after college and then bought and moved into my townhouses. Adam bought his several years before that (with a friend) as investment properties. Adam purposefully was a landlord. 

"Not I", said the fly.

Since the same townhouse is currently selling for 1/3 of the price I bought mine for....selling isn't an option. It is even half of what Adam bought his for years before that. 

Anyway....we currently have two empty townhouses. Which is definitely no fun. 

But one of Adam's is a serious disaster. After the tenants were evicted by the court for not paying rent in months and months, we went over to check out the place. 

The destruction,
the damage. 
the disgustingness (yes, that's now a word)
is incredible. 

I would NEVER have believed it if I hadn't seen it myself. 


And this isn't a case of being angry about being evicted so they destroyed the place before they left. 
They cleaned the kitchen and bathroom. 

This is just. how. they. lived.

I don't even have any more words to say. 

I'll let you see for yourself. 


That is all I have to say.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Felt Board Fun

When I was thinking of Christmas ideas for some of the kiddos in my life Kristin mentioned that Layla (3.5) has been loving her felt board lately and would love a set related to family or home. I looked around at different options but nothing completely sold me so I started thinking about making my own set for her!

Then it got me thinking that Zander (2) (my friend Katie's son) might like a felt board of his own! So I went to the University of Google and Pinterest and got some great ideas! Kristin also helped with ideas for making the feltboard. I wanted to try making a felt board that folded up because I thought it might be nice to tuck away or for travel. 

Making the Felt Board

I used: 
foam board and cut it to 30 by 15
blue felt for the front
boat fabric for the back (he likes boats)
spray adhesive
tacky glue
staple gun

-I used spray adhesive to attach the fabric to the back (I just did this to make it cute on the back). It actually did not work at all. I am not sure if I didn't use enough? But I used a lot. Or maybe my glue is old? Either way it didn't stick it down really at all. 
-I also used some spray adhesive to try to get the felt to stick to the front. 
-Then I folded the back up tightly and used a staple gun on the corners. My problem was that I borrowed my dad's staple gun and he only had long staples so I couldn't use it all over. 
-Lastly I used tacky glue all around the edge to hold it down even better. 
-I had the idea to make a flap to hold the edges together and glued a button on one side and glued a felt strip on one side with a slit cut into it to hold the button.

I also decided to make a book to hold all of the felt pieces for both kids. I had this grand plan of 2 hard pieces of felt as the cover with regular pieces of felt inside as the pages. Well the all the felt pieces wouldn't stick and just fell off when the pages turned. SO back to the drawing board. I had already "bound" the books with ribbon, so I just folded up the edges and hot glued the sides to make pouches to stick their pieces of felt into. You can see it better in the third to last picture.

Zander's Felt Board folded up and his book

Zander's set of shapes

Zander's set of fish on the felt board opened up

Zander's set of ice cream

For Layla I made people, clothes, a house, and furniture. The people represent all of the people in her family. A mom, dad, little girl, and baby boy. 

Let me tell you that making the baby boy was NOT the easiest task in the world. I am not really the best artist in the world and I kept making blobs that looked nothing like babies! For the mommy (Kristin) I used the template from this website as a base. For the daddy, I took the mommy and modified him. He ended up looking a little....umm...."shape-ly". You'd never know he has envious hips under those felt clothes.

I made a couple outfits, winter attire, and a bathing suit for each of them. Layla also got a ballet outfit and ballet slippers! I only made one pair of shoes for each of them because I figured they were so tiny and would be easily lost.

I went back and forth about putting faces on them but after much thought (and help from my sister) we decided that they looked better without and just help imagination grow! (Also...again...I'm a terrible artist). 

Layla's family and clothes

I also made a house to fit on her board (it was too big for this one because hers is bigger than the one I made for Zander). I decided to make a few pieces of furniture, but I soon discovered my lack of artistic skills severely impaired my ability to create felt furniture. So I stopped with 3 beds, a couch, a table, and a fridge. Which also are clearly not to scale. 

The kiddos playing with their presents!

I think making felt board sets is a great way to encourage imagination and there are so many ways to personalize them just for the kids they are for!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Update on the House-Working on the Tile

Well this is really sad.

I posted about our bathroom progress on April 5th. Until December we hadn't really made ANY more progress on the master bath since then. And absolutely no work has been done on the downstairs bathroom to date. For several days in December Adam worked really had on the shower walls. Then the holidays forced a break. This weekend Adam was back to work. In our defense, May to October we practically live outside taking care of the gardens....but still it is crazy.

The walls in the shower are done except for the last section on top. We put that on hold because we are going to see which size tile is left and use that on top. I'd prefer the 9x12 (larger) tiles, but if we have a lot of 6x6 left we might need to use that. The other part of the shower not finished is the shelving. That is done last....apparently.

The main bathroom area. We still don't have mirrors either. Well. We bought mirrors and then a year later realized they didn't fit. Oops.

From the main bathroom area into the walk in shower. 

The back of the shower (to the left of the picture above) with the bench

Facing the bench-to the left- shelves for shampoo bottles etc

The front of the shower (that's the handle area under the mosaic) and to the right there will be two shelves and mosaic in the middle.

The "water closet" on Saturday night.

Sunday night (Adam has been working hard!)

And....the master bedroom is still uninhabitable! As soon as the bathroom is finished it will be cleaned up and no longer a work zone. Then one more coat of paint and some molding and we can move in!

I CANNOT wait to be able to post final pictures of the bathroom when we are in it and using it! THEN I won't have to get ready in 3 different bedrooms! My bed, clothes, hamper, and makeup will be all in one room!

Sunday, January 08, 2012


Well that was an accident: posting the Felt Board Fun post without any words. 

If you read in a reader you know what I mean. 

If you don't, then you are more confused by this post than anything. 

You are just going to have to sit around and wait on pins on needles to see what I have to say about those pictures!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Etching Glass

This story starts because I tried to get an engagement gift for my sister from Etsy and it was a major fail. My first Etsy fail actually and I am pretty bummed about it. Long story short, I ordered a special personalized engagement ornament from a well established Etsy shop with hundreds of sales and a feedback rating in the high 90s. As of today the feedback is 69% and drops everyday. Since December 15 there have been 87 negative feedbacks left from people who paid and never received their orders. In there have been a smattering of positive feedbacks. Did some people get their orders? Are those old positive feedbacks? Who knows. It is very sad and from the feedback it is clear that there were a lot of sad Christmases with missing presents. I kept hoping that if I stayed positive and didn't leave negative feedback it would show up in the mail one day. I ordered December 4th and paid by Google Checkout December 5th. I started an official report with Etsy, but one negative feedbacker reported that there is nothing Etsy can do. 

ANYWAY....(I guess that wasn't a short story)

It did, however, give me the chance to try out a new craft! Kristin told me about a neat new craft she tried. As always she was very generous with the tips and ideas! I decided to try to make personalized etched glass champagne toasting flutes for Erin and Wael for their wedding. I figured thought I should practice first so I got two wine glasses as practice and two champagne flutes as the real deal. 

In addition to great tips from Kristin, I used this video to get me started.

glass you want to etch (Kristin says don't use Pyrex)
Glass etching cream found in the glass section of the craft store (bring your coupon!)
vinyl found in the Cricut section of the craft store or online (coupon doesn't work on Cricut stuff)
Cricut or machine to cut with
small paint brush or foam paint brush (I used the foam ones I got 20/$1 at Michaels)
sink (to wash off cream later)
gloves (The cream is some serious stuff, you will want gloves when you touch it to wash it off)
Patience (this cannot be hurried, so don't do it in a rush!)

It was overall a fairly low complexity project, but it does require time and patience. 

LUCKILY a super awesome daughter (read: me) got my mom a Cricut for Christmas. So I was able to cut the vinyl for the stencils with it. It was great because I could try out a variety of sizes. Note: We did realize her Big Kick would cut vinyl too (afterwards) but the Cricut was nice for playing with sizes. 

1. Practice cutting out your shapes so you can see what shapes and sizes you like. We played with different fonts and sizes. Originally I was going to spell out their names but I didn't think it looked as nice on the small champagne flutes. We also played with different flourishes to put on the opposite side of the initial. I tried the wedding date, but it just took up too much room at the smallest size the Cricut would cut.

This is the font I decided on. 

Mom seeing what it looks like on the glass.

2. Cut out your shapes or letters.  You are going to use the "negative" space as your stencil. So you want to cut your vinyl big enough that there is a blank area around the letter or shape. 
3. Peel back the backside of the vinyl. VERY carefully and slowly place it on your glass so there aren't bubbles or creases. (This was actually pretty hard on the glasses as they are curved and the vinyl was hard to lay flat). 
4. Take your time to use your fingernail to work out any air bubbles. Especially around the edges. Any air bubbles means your etching cream will leak and etch where you don't want it to! Kristin's tip was to look through the opposite side so you can see where there are air pockets. That definitely helped.
5. Take some more time to work out the air bubbles.

6. Use your paint brush or foam brush to paint on (rather thickly) the etching cream. I put it on a piece of foil to dip my paint brush.

7. Let it sit for about 15 minutes. The bottle says 10, but Kristin advised that 15 gave a better etch and I agreed.

8. Bring your glass to the sink (with your gloves on) and wash off the cream. Then peel off your vinyl and continue to rinse it until it is all off. Dry off your glass.
9.Voila! You have beautifully etched glass! 


The practice wine glasses turned out very well too! So I did give them both sets (wine and champagne). When I gave the gift to them, they used the wine glasses right away! All the glasses have the same initials, but the wine and champagne glasses have different flourish designs. 

This was a really fun project and I am excited about all of the possibilities for the future! It also felt really good to give them a handmade gift that they can use at their wedding!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy New Year and Evolution of the Hair

I thought I'd do a bit of a different New Years post this year. 

I am looking forward to 2012, though I enjoyed 2011 as well. It was a busy year as usual, but it mostly treated me well. I am looking forward to continuing much of the same love and friendship in 2012!

I am beginning 2012 with a new hair cut! On December 23rd I went to get my hair trimmed and on a whim decided to chop it and donate it to Locks of Love. I had a fleeting thought about it a couple nights before and wondered if it was long enough. On the way to get my hair cut I brought up the idea to my mom on the phone, but  wasn't really sure I would do it. I asked my hair lady (she's been cutting my hair since I was a kid!) and she thought I should go for it. So I did! (After texting Adam to warn him because he is a fan of long hair!). 

I have thought about chopping my hair recently, but haven't had the guts because: 
1). It took a long time to grow my hair this long 
2). I love being able to throw it in a ponytail
3). It is a huge change

After I started thinking about it, however, I just couldn't stop thinking about little kids who could use it a whole lot more than I need it and felt some holiday spirit that helped me along.

The main stipulations for donating hair is that it is at least 10 inches and it isn't bleached. I haven't hilighted or dyed my hair in years....maybe since college even? And it was long enough! I didn't want to chop it TOO short, so I was happy to see it would be a decent length even with the 10 inches.

So here ya go:


After chopping off the ponytails

And styled!

To follow with the theme of hair cuts for the new year, I thought I'd show you the evolution of my hair since 2001. I tried to pick a picture as close to January 31 as possible, though in the older years there definitely aren't as many to choose from!

2001-college freshman (that is some rockin' orange skin I was sportin' back then)

2002 - this is a bonus photo for you because it is in the summer and not near new years, but I thought you might appreciate the super awesome dye job I had back then. Can you say "straw hair"??

2002-college sophomore

2003-college junior

2004-college senior


2006 (just a few months after meeting Adam)



2009 (not sure why this photo won't go any closer to the one above it. Whatevs)

2010 (last year-not sure why my face looks so BIG in these NYE pics)

2011-this year!

Looks like my hair has been long, short, very long and short again! I wonder what the next 10 years will have in store for my hair?? How about you? Any big hair changes planned?