Typepad on Pinterest: Gwen Lafleur

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Welcome home!

So I've had tons of requests to share the setup / decorating in my new condo... I finally got around to taking a few pictures. If you've visited me at all in the last 8 years or so, this will look pretty familiar, just a few updates / additions as I've moved from Virginia to Utah to Connecticut to Chicago (I'm tired just thinking about it!) I had to be a little creative with this place, though... I downsized a lot coming from Connecticut. The real estate agent was telling people the place I just moved out of was 1700 sq. ft. It might not have been quite that big, but this place is 1200 with about 2.5 fewer rooms. Still a good size, but needless to say I was selling and donating quite a lot before moving, including selling pretty much everything in my guest room.

That said, it's time for the grand tour!

The outside of my building - I live in a condo in Albany Park, which is one of the neighborhoods in North Chicago.

IMG_2978I live on the 3rd floor - the windows on the top right of the building are my little condo. Did I mention there's no elevator? #firstworldproblems.

So you come upstairs through the indoor / front entrance, and the front door enters into the great room / kitchen combo - this is the view if you look to the right as you come in. I did get a new area rug for this room after I moved in - picked up this and 2 small ones (bedroom, front door) from Target. The old one was pretty done in... I'm loving the little pop of color that I added! (The old one was just shades of cream.)

IMG_3211Panning around the room to the left... (can you believe the movers brought that piano up all those stairs? I did say they were awesome, I meant it!!!)


IMG_3227And then looking from the dining area back toward the front door and the kitchen. The kitchen looks small, but there's a LOT of space in the cupboards, and there are 2 huge corner cupboards with lazy susans in them. In CT, all of my kitchen stuff was stored in 4 places so it's fantastic to have everything together. I'm hoping it will lead to me getting back to cooking - that kitchen in my last place was so tiny that I really got out of the habit because it was such a pain to even try and cook.

IMG_3209And from the kitchen back across the rest of the room:

IMG_3208I love all the wood floors and the exposed brick.

Exciting stuff, right? So now lets go back to the front door and down the hallway. There's a little coat closet to the left that you can't see. Of course, there's no coat rod in said closet which is a small dilemma. I'm going to have to rig something up at some point.

IMG_3214It's my own little art gallery! I lost a lot of wall space in various rooms from CT to here, but fortunately I have a few halls that I was able to deck :D

First door on the left, this is my studio.

IMG_3229This room ended up being really tough to set up because it was smaller and also much narrower than the room in Connecticut, plus with the downsizing, I needed to add an extra set of shelves. That actually worked because I was able to go more vertical and gain a little extra space, which I needed!
IMG_3229As I set it up, I rearranged a bit so that the supplies that I'm currently using most - basic staples, art and mixed media, are the ones closest at hand.
IMG_3229I ended up having to put the tables end to end instead of back to back, but I think that will work out. Then I put the scrapbooking stuff on the other side. Easily accessible, but stuff that I'll be trying to get to much less frequently.
IMG_3229The closet has completed albums, office supplies, my project life Raskog supply cart, gift wrap, jewelry making, and some other less used craft supplies and tools. So far it's working pretty well, but it was touch and go for a while during set up... I wasn't sure I was going to get it to fit and be really usable, but I think I'm good now and I've been playing in here for a few days now and nothing seems to be inconvenient. I might start thinking about swapping out my office chair for something a little smaller, though. We'll see.

So anyway, back out to the hallway and going down further, there's a 2nd bathroom on the left (a nice addition - I only had one tiny one in CT,) and across from that is the master bedroom.


There are 4 windows in here, so I needed to get new curtains - found these super cute ones with a coupon at Urban Outfitters. Along with the shower curtain and bath mat (since I was adding a bathroom, I decided to get some cute new stuff :)

The bedroom still feels a bit unfinished to me - like there needs to be something along the tops of the walls. Crown molding or something? I don't know. If I had bought instead of renting, I'd definitely add something! Maybe I should stencil some old-school ivy borders... lol (not!)
IMG_3215Sometimes I have a hard time falling asleep, and for some reason the TV helps turn off my brain so I can drop off (otherwise I never watch TV in the bedroom.) I was told before I moved in that there were cable hookups in every room, so I brought all 3 TVs. Turns out there's only a plate and no wiring in this room. But I can watch movies if I want. It's all good. And the treadmill, of course... time to work that back into the routine! I'm doing a lot of walking every day, but a bit more wouldn't hurt!
IMG_3215And the view back out to the front. There's another hallway to the right from this point - it goes along to a tiny little laundry / utility room and the back door. I have a small part of the porch area (great for going outside to spray paint or if I want to add a BBQ) and there are stairs that go down to my parking spot off the alley.

I really scored with this place... it's quite nice, a good building, great amenities, and I'm within walking distance of the L which I take to work every day (I work downtown in the Loop.) On top of it all, my rent is a bit cheaper than in Branford! Bonus!

So that's it! The grand tour for all of you who have been asking.

And now, it's time to make some dinner and get back to playing in my studio!

Getting back in the groove

Got home from vacation on Monday morning... sickness from a few weeks of not enough sleep was setting in before the plane even landed. So, I've been sick all week as I got back into the swing of things with work and around the house (and the first time Mucinex D has ever failed me!) but I'm managing. I got right back in my studio Monday evening with a new mixed media canvas, but I'll share that project in my next post. While I was waiting for layers to dry on my canvas, I worked on a page in my art journal:

Ruby Art Journal Page - Gwen Lafleur
The red just came out of nowhere, but I went with it. As I was getting ready to figure out what to call it, "Ruby" by the Kaiser Chiefs came up on my playlist. Ruby and a red page? I went with it, and wrote the journaing about the memories that song brings up of when my sister and I drove from Johannesburg about 6 hours north to a little place called Hoedspruit where we stayed at a game reserve for our safari. This song came on the radio at least once an hour for the entire trip, so it's totally mentally associated with that vacation now.

The last few days I've been feeling that crisp Fall feeling in the air, so when I went to get groceries this week, I went to Bishop's Orchards in Guilford instead of my usual store to get a few fun fall comfort foods. I've been enjoying them all weekend! (Especially that Butternut Squash & Apple soup with some fresh french bread! And those Molasses Gingersnap cookies are to.die.for.)

And yesterday when I went out to make a gesso run to Hobby Lobby (yeah... like I managed to keep it to just a bottle of gesso! Sigh...) I noticed that the light on the trees was just gorgeous. Probably doesn't show up well here, but sharing anyway :) Soon those leaves are going to start changing! I can't wait, even though it means winter is imminent.

Beautiful Early Fall Light
Next up, I've completed two full canvases in the last week that I'll share. I also managed to do most of a scrapbook on the road on my trip to Williamsburg, so I'm hoping to finish that up this week and maybe even get going on August's Project Life! We'll see... I might be still rolling with the painting vibe. But whatever works!

All moved in!

I've actually been moved in for a week, but things have been kind of busy so I just haven't had time to sit down and blog!

First of all, I love it here. Love it. I love my job, love my house, love the town, love the people. It's one of those times where it's so obvious that this was the right thing in the right place at the right time that it's kind of ridiculous. I'm very happy to be here, and thrilled to be working again. I've actually enjoyed it so much that I've been in the office BEFORE 9AM, every.single.day. And if you know me, you're probably still picking your jaw up off the floor.

My mom and dad have been here this weekend, and we've been having fun playing. I've been showing them around the town and trying out some of the great restaurants here in town. We did some shopping, I got a MUCH needed haircut, and we put some finishing touches on the house.

A few pictures from the last three weeks...

I completely forgot to take pictures of the moving truck after they got here, but it's pretty much the reverse of this:


Then Sunday night after the movers left, I went over to Mindy and Darren's for a little farewell dinner with the Peanuts. It was great to see everyone again one last time before I took off. Not that we won't see each other again at some point!

Monday I took another load of stuff to DI, turned in my equipment at Comcast, got some car snacks and gased up the car, and then Melody came over and saved my bacon by helping me get everything cleaned so I could turn in my apartment keys the next morning. Then that night I went to her house and we had some farewell snacks and fun with her family plus Tim and Dustin.

And then Tuesday morning I was off! I drove by myself with a packed car and my iPod and GPS and I was off. I stopped in Kearney, Nebraska the first night and then just outside of Toledo, Ohio the second night. I got to Branford at about 5pm on Thursday evening and picked up my keys at the real estate agency and then got to the house and unloaded the car. At that point I was just exhausted and set up my air mattress and crashed.

I spent a few days picking up necessities and figuring out where things are, and doing a lot of reading.

The last time I posted were the pictures I took while I was waiting for the movers to get here on Sunday... they ended up coming late because of a morning job that took longer than planned and then bad traffic on 95. Then it took several hours to unload and they didn't finish until about 9pm, so I didn't really get started unpacking that night. And then Monday, I started my new job.

Did I mention I love my new job? I do. I've been there two weeks now and it's been awesome. I have plenty to do, I'm getting looped in and up to speed and all that pretty fast, and the people are just great. Of course, the people are the main reason I turned down my other opportunities and took this one. And I'm excited that it's turning out even better than I had hoped.

I kept unpacking in the evenings after work, and then did a big push last weekend to get pretty close to finished. I did a few last things last Monday and then I was pretty much done!

IMG_0208(I hauled ALL of the boxes and paper down to the basement of the house on Tuesday, and it was quite a job. They won't last in the humidity here so I'm going to have to list them on Craig's List, but at least they're out of the house for now!)

A few of the rooms as I was finishing...

(You see a lot of fans around because the house doesn't have A/C - which it really only needs about 2 months of the year. Next summer I might get a few window units or something. We'll see.)

And of course, the all important scrapbook room!

This room is easily twice the size of my scrap attic, and I can't believe I fit it all in there! Of course, in here I have one entire wall that I can't use because it's full of closets (which hold the stuff from my guest room closet - the guest room here doesn't have one, as well as my coat closet). And I also tried to keep things from covering the windows, so it's more spread out instead of using vertical space. But I love it - the yellow walls and wood floors are awesome. And since the master bedroom didn't have cable hookups, I put the 2nd TV in here so I can watch the Food Network and hockey games while I work - I think this will work great!

So I had Wednesday night where I just relaxed and relished being done with the unpacking. Then Thursday night, we had a work Happy Hour at a place near our office where the eCommerce team headed for some after work drinks and snacks.


I started with straight-up water on the rocks, but eventually switched to virgin frozen peach margharitas which were pretty tasty. We ordered apps (it was Mexican) and then desserts (it was also unhealthy). After a few hours there, a group of us broke off and went to a different bar close to the water (funny enough, it was the singles who stuck it out - everyone else went home to their families). So me, my boss Craig, our analyst Ryan, and Cassi who was down working in the office for a few days (she normally telecommutes from MA) went to the bar where I switched to Shirley Temples. Lots of grenadine... yum! Part of the fun with this group is that I've fallen in with some fellow foodies who also happen to be super fun to hang out with. I'm slowly being shown all the great places to eat with the promise of many more opportunities to sample the local cuisine and entertainment scene. I can't wait!

Friday my boss "made" us all leave early for the holiday weekend, so I went home to get the house picked up and to get some of the moving dust out of the way before my parents came. They got here for dinner and I took them to one of the places I've tried for dinner and we also drove along the water. We did more shopping, eating and sight seeing on Saturday, went to church at my new ward on Sunday, and today we did more shopping to get curtain rods and a few sets of drapes for the house. Because of the way the windows are here (old and slightly slanted plus not being allowed to drill into them) I had to get tension rods for all the windows. And with lots more windows, I needed more drapes. So we hit Target, Ikea and Walmart and got what I needed between those. Then my mom and I busted out the sewing machine and measuring tape and got to work.

We hung everything up first to see what we needed to cut off, then I did the measuring and cutting and mom did the sewing. As she finished hemming, I got them ironed and hung.

And my dad, well he did this:

(can't say I blame him!)

I've now got drapes up in all but two of the rooms - the front two rooms I'm waiting on until the contractor comes to replace the windows this week. Mostly because there's a wasps nest in one of the guest room windows, and I only want to move things once in the scrapbook room. But the other rooms look great! So now it's finally really feeling like home. Still a little weird / new, but it's a lot homier now. I love it and I can't wait to have people over! Next up: wide screen HD TV (WAY overdue... I'm still using the huge 30" Sony I bought in college!) and maybe a BBQ and some patio furniture for my porch. We could do some serious game-day partying here! But we'll see when I get to it... I have time :)

Whew! Well, there's my huge catch-up post. I'm going to try and do a little Project Life catch-up as well. I might not do all 4 weeks individually, but I'll pull something together to cover the last month. It's been crazy, but kind of awesome too. And now, I'm off to finish up a few things and then hit the sack so I can be up bright and early for work in the morning.


Mission Impossible: Moving Edition

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been extremely stressed about finding a place to live... I had set up a house-hunting trip and booked appointments to view properties, but was still worried. This is a small town, and there isn't a lot available... in fact, one of the realtors I was talking with about rental properties seemed a bit miffed over my space / amenity requirements. lol. I never thought of myself as being picky, but I guess I am. And I also apparently need a lot more space than most single people! But I've said many times that I'm well aware that I have too much stuff. But I love it too much to get rid of it, so space it is!

Anyway, Nicole got me hooked up with a flight out. Monday at midnight, I took a red-eye to JFK where I landed at 6am, worked my way out to the rental car place and picked up my car. I hooked up my GPS and headed out toward Connecticut, working through horrible 7am traffic and finally getting across the bridge and into Connecticut (note: if you're coming to see me, unless you get a totally amazing deal, just fly into Hartford. It might cost a little more but it's worth it!) I got to Branford at 9am, with two hours until my first appointment. I found my hotel, then went back to the center of town and parked near the green.

The green is surrounded on two sides by churches and the town hall (and I think a great library), and on the other two sides by lots of fun shops and restaurants. It's beautiful, and they do all kinds of fun stuff on the green - Jazz concerts, movies...

But then I was starving, so I went into the coffee shop and splurged on breakfast which included this: an enormous grilled corn muffin. It was delicious.

Then I went to my first appointment... one I'd happened to get Monday afternoon after a last-ditch search of the rental sites. I'd seen this one before on another site and emailed on it with no reply. But this time the realtor got back to me right away and scheduled an appointment. I finally found it (using the GPS for anything on Main Street has problems - because there are like 4 main streets or something. lol.) From the outside, not too inspiring... this is the back of the house (the front is much prettier, of course), which is multi-family. The one I was looking at was the 2nd and 3rd floors, with the front door entrance on the first floor.

But then I walked inside and I was instantly in love. I mean, it just felt like home. (Below is the view of the back door and informal dining area.)

They're still cleaning it up and replacing the downstairs windows, but I just loved the yellow walls and the dark exposed wood beams in the ceiling.

Brand new kitchen with stainless steel, tile backsplash and a gas range. sigh.

Formal dining room with a fun built-in... this may be a music room.

Main street staircase with windowMain staircase... up to the master, down to the front door. You can see the gorgeous original wood flooring (the house was built in 1900) and the stunning stained glass... there's more in the front door too! There are also two bedrooms and the bathroom on the main floor... the bedrooms have lots of windows and hardwood floors and the bathroom was just remodeled.

Main street house master 1
And this... the entire 3rd floor is the master bedroom. Lots of sloped ceilings, a few closets... lots of light and space!

Main street house master 2
And the laundry room is just off the master bedroom. How convenient is that?

There's even a little vegetable garden out back that the downstairs tenants set up, but they're moving in September so "someone" could possibly take it over. hmm...  lots of herbs and veggies. Yum!

So, what you don't see well are all the little architectural details that they've left in the house... rosette corner moldings and how pretty the wood is. But you can probably see how I fell in love with it. Apparently there was another application in on the house, but the guy didn't really like it. (What?!?!?) So I filled out all the paperwork and dropped it off at the office within the hour since I had time before my next appointment. No sense waiting, right?

I saw 4 more places on Tuesday, but 3 were absolutely unlivable without a lot of work and the 4th wasn't available until mid-October. But I got a good look and then went back to my hotel and checked in, where I got a call from the moving company asking if they could move up my move date. Um... sure? Two days earlier! Yikes... (I should really be packing right now. Really.) Then I checked out the grocery store across the street which was fun knowing how much I love grocery stores (did I mention the nearest Wegman's is only 2 hours away? Don't think that's too far for me to go now and then. Seriously. I totally will.) And then I crashed.

Wednesday I saw two more places - one that would be a good choice... possibly a little small, but quite nice with a really nice landlord. And then I went to one right on the water which became my second choice. A little smaller than I'd like, but this was the view from the windows:

Quiet and peaceful in a gorgeous neighborhood, with breezes from the sound coming through the windows. I put in an application, but as a second choice. Here's the view across the street:

Have I mentioned yet that I kind of love this town?

After that I went to the town green and sat on a bench in the shade and read while I went back and forth trying to finalize a place. I needed to leave a 3 to head back to JFK, and at about 2:50, I got the call. My application for the #1 choice was accepted. Now I'm just waiting to get links to the lease so I can sign it and overnight it with my deposit. Then I can move in next week. Whew!

So my mission: 2 days, 2200 miles away, 6 possible homes. And I did it... I walked away not only knowing where I wanted to live, but actually having gotten the application processed and approved. And today, I was able to give the moving company an address. Woohoo! It's a huge load off, and I'm super psyched to move to this fun little town and my awesome old house.

And now, I'm really going to start packing. After I eat lunch. lol.

I'm finally selling purged scrapbook supplies!

Yes. Remember how I purged my scrapbook room in JANUARY? And how all of that stuff I pulled out has been sitting in my guest room / living room for months? I'm finally getting rid of it. It's time, and I'm hoping to convert all that stuff blocking my way into a little cash :)

If anyone is interested, all of my listings are here on KSL.

And pictures of the lots I've put up so far (there's more to come, but I wanted to get started!)

Full Sizzix Fun Serif alphabet, numbers, and 10 small dies:


My original Silhouette machine... still working great.


My Slice machine and design cards and idea box. I wasn't planning to sell this, but I really don't use it at all. Especially since I got my Cameo.


Sizzix low-profile die cutting machine and dies - the alphabets are Girls are Weird and Rat-a-Tat.

My Coluzzle system. These are great and people still use them... especially if you don't have a diecut machine!

And moving on from tools to lots of supplies by manufacturer. First up: Heidi Swapp.

A HUGE lot of Making Memories.

Lots of Chatterbox...

Tons of KI Memories (well over 200 sheets of paper alone)

Creative Imaginations

IMG_2138I also had a lot of Scenic Route, but it looks like the photos got deleted. Oops! I'll have to re-shoot that one when I get to work on the next batch. This isn't even half. It's really kind of embarassing... and this is just what I'm selling! Sheesh.

New toys!

Friday was a great mail day... I got some new toys!

First, much anticipated and long awaited and wanted...

New iPhone 4S
I was finally able to make the switch to the iPhone! It wasn't available with Verizon the last time my contract was up for renewal, and after it came out I didn't want to buy one until I could get my renewal discount. And the time finally came! (And worth the wait since I get the newer version :) of course now that I have it, iPhone 5 will be out in like a month. lol.) It was past time... my old Palm wouldn't hold a charge nearly as long as it used to and it was getting more annoying by the day. Plus, the keyboard is terrible and with longer fingernails I could barely type on it. Powering it down and activating the new phone was a VERY happy moment for me.

Of course, since I knew I was getting this, I'd been doing a little poking around the web and saving ideas on Pinterest for a fun phone case. I wanted a felt one like I'd seen on Etsy, but without paying $50+ to buy one. So after work Friday, I just made my own!

Handmade Felt iPhone Camera Case
Naturally, it's turquoise and red... and my first foray into the world of the blanket stitch. lol. I didn't have a pattern so I was just kind of winging it, but it came out great (IMHO) and took less than 2 hours. Not too shabby!

Of course, the main reason I wanted the iPhone 4S was for the camera. I needed a new purse camera and this works perfectly (hence the "camera" case). Natural progression... iPhone + photo taking = Instagram!

I may be addicted... I had a little too much fun right after I got it installed. I started looking for things to take pictures of so I could experiment. A little snapshot of my African Safari album work in progress on my desk (which is now finished and drying).

Instagram - on my desk this week
And an Instagram of my other new goodie that came in the mail - washi tape for my Washi class at Studio Calico (not like I needed more... I won't divulge how many rolls I have. But at least I use it a lot!)

Instagram - new washi tapeFun!

Anyway,I'm gwenaval on Instagram (and twitter too) - I promise I'm exercising restraint and not posting pictures of every second of the day... lol. Just a little here and there, but I'm hoping this will help me have more details from my week for Project Life. And speaking of... as soon as my safari album dries and I can photograph it, last week's layout is next up on my project list. Somehow I think the iPhone will play a big role in this week's spread :)

Fun Finds and Goodies

Whew... the last few days got a way from me a bit! It's been fun and busy...

Friday I got to work to find an invite from my boss for a team field trip. Woohoo! We all left the office for a few hours to have lunch and then go exploring at an awesome antique mall. First, we went to Caputo's Italian Market and Deli, which is just a few blocks from our office (when it gets warmer, I'm sure I'll be heading there on walks!) They have a great market with their own cheese cave and a guy that makes their salami! We stopped there for lunch - I had half a prociutto sandwich with a pesto pasta salad which was yummy. While I waited for them to make the sandwiches, I explored the market for a bit and found this amazing honey wine vinegar (locally made) that was so good. The guy at the check-out asked me what I was going to use it for and I told him I might just drink it. He thought I was kidding. The bottle came with a recipe for a vinaigrette that I think I'll try. Lunch was a blast - I got to know a lot of our team better as we went around the table telling random stories. I'm glad I was one of the first ones... mine was boring!

After lunch we headed to Capital City Antique Mall to just wander, shop and be inspired. My boss loves places like this because it's interesting to look at all of these things and think of the design - both the object itself and motifs. It reminded me of my Grandma L. and her love of antiques. I remember antiquing with her a few times when I was a little girl... she would have loved this place. It was really well organized and lots of the booths had really made an effort with the displays - it made it so fun. They were even in the process of setting up a big green themed display in the entry.

I snapped a few pics with my phone as I wandered, and ended up picking up a few random treasures that inspired me enough that I wanted to take them home with me. (And when I say random, I'm not kidding! lol.)

March 2 Work Field Trip

Top left is a display of artisinal chocolate at Caputos, bottom right are the treats I got there, including my vinegar, an amaretti cookie, another fun little pastry, and some fun artisan chocolate I got mainly because the box was so pretty. The others are pictures from the antique market. I was totally in love with all those hat pins... so fun!

Here's what I ended up bringing home with me:

Antique Mall Goodies

The blue glass compote dish and the tea cup are currently in my craft room, holding beautiful things and inspiring me, along with the hat pins that are stuck in my pin cushion. I thought they would be beautiful on a mini album cover, and also as inspiration for making some of my own pins with my jewelry supplies. I wore that bracelet to church today - it's so fun and totally me. And the teapot... I just fell in love with the design. I'm crossing my fingers that it's dishwasher safe because I want to use it! But not until it's clean and sterilized. lol.

Saturday I met my friend Kathy for lunch at a new place - Blue Lemon in Highland. SO good. I had short ribs with polenta (half of which is in my fridge, waiting to be enjoyed all over again.) and I got myself a little shamrock sugar cookie to enjoy later because I'm a sucker for cookies and cute things, and this was both.

Me with Shamrock Cookie

I think the Peanuts might have to hit this place up... so good.

Next up, another post on my crafty endeavors this weekend... working on an online class that I'm just loving.

Fun Sharing...

I just wanted to pop in with a quick video share. This is a recent fun video put together by our video team at work. It's been a treat to work with such a talented group of people! You'd never know we do all this stuff in-house. This was a fun project for the month:


In other news, my plans to finish my December Daily and then finish the Scrap Attic renovation were totally blown by my complete inability to stop part-way through the making of the Reorganization Disaster Area to work on something. I get a tad obsessive about projects like this, to which my lack of sleep this week can attest. I've taken a few pictures that I need to upload - now that I can finally get to my computer again, I'll try and get them up. It's not a pretty site. It looks like a crafting bomb went off in my upstairs... I think it's actually a fire hazard with the way my hallway and landing are barely navigable. lol.

But last night I finally got to the point of starting to move things back in again, although I'm still organizing as I go. I just don't have enough room to completely unload the room and spread things out so stuff like sorting all of the paper and re-arranging furniture is having to happen in a somewhat cramped fashion. But it's happening! The pile of things I'm going to sell or donate is growing exponentially. Pictures coming soon...

Inca Kola fix

Lookie what I just found! Looks like I can get my Inca Kola fix after all. Now to see if it tastes the same. Hopefully it's close enough. I have more stuff from the end of my trip to share... We'll get there. I'm still recovering from the trip, but it was absolutely awesome.

Inca Kola fix

Getting excited

Look what came in the package I just picked up... All my travel docs for Peru (and a nice tote bag too). I can't wait! Since the trip has been paid for almost two years and has been postponed twice, I can hardly believe I'm finally going. Just two more weeks!

Getting excited

That is all.

Product Review: Turn Your Pictures into Canvas!

So a few weeks ago, I got an email with an opportunity to do a product review. Yay! As it happened, it was for a company that will turn your photos into a canvas. It was actually great timing, because I had just been thinking about looking into it. So of course, I took them up on the offer.

So here's how it works. The company, Easy Canvas Prints, will turn your pictures into canvas. Simple as that! I went through a lot of photos to try and decide which one I wanted to use, but ultimately decided on one from my FBE - this shot that I took one evening walking through the Plaka in Athens. I really love this photo - it was such a great picture of the feel of being in Greece, and I have wonderful memories of that night that come back each time I see this picture:

Athens Plaka
Once I picked the photo, I went onto the site to start the process. To preface this, my job over the last 5 years has shifted from online marketing and optimization more into website optimization and usability. So (not to sound humble or anything), when I say that it was easy to use the site and I never had questions about what to do or where to get answers to questions, it's quite a compliment. (I've actually refused to purchase from websites that had annoying navigation or bad usability. I'm a snob.) It was really fast to get everything uploaded, and I liked that they showed me the relative size of the canvas I was ordering by showing how it would look on a wall above a sofa. Seeing that actually led me to upgrade to an 11x14 canvas (in interest of full disclosure, they gave me a free 8x10, but I did pay for the size upgrade). Going through the process, I also have to say that I felt like the prices were reasonable as well as comparable to other companies that offer similar service.

I ordered, got my confirmation and got excited when I found out it had shipped. It came UPS last night and I was really pleased when I opened it. Here's what it looked like:


I think one of the things I love the best is that the canvas does a fabulous job of highlighting the texture of the stone on the buildings, steps and walkway in this picture. I wish I could have gotten a photo that would do it justice, but trust me. It looks awesome!

These canvases are gallery wrap - with that, the image continues around the edges so that you can hang it without a frame. One of the features that I really liked in the order process was the ability to choose how I wanted the gallery wrap to look. I chose to have it mirror the front image. I took a picture so you can see:


They also have the option for you to upgrade to a 1 1/2" thick canvas. I thought about it, but I opted to keep the regular size because I figured I'd want to frame it - all of the art and photographs in my house are framed, so I wanted it to be consistent.

As it happens, Michael's was having a sale on frames this week, so after the canvas came last night, I took it with me to the store and picked out a frame. (Apologies for the bad lighting - it was dark when I got home, but I wanted to get a few more shots.)


You can see how the canvas works perfectly with a frame too. And the view down the hallway:


The canvas comes with a little thingy on the back to make it easy to hang. I love having it there in my hall - each time I pass it, I get to remember that lovely night in Athens.

Cool, huh? I really love the final product, and I was pleased with the entire process. I feel like in order to be a "fair and balanced" reviewer, I have to say something negative, but the only thing I can think of is that it would have been nice if there had been a little extra padding in the shipping box to keep the canvas from moving around inside. But, the canvas was wrapped and the box width was a decent fit, and it came in perfect shape so I'm 100% happy and would definitely order again. So... if you want to turn your pictures into canvas, check out Easy Canvas Prints!

Missoni and Yummy Pizza

I'm sure by now most everyone has seen the commercials from Target for the new Missoni collection. I saw some pictures from it hitting Pinterest and made a note to myself to go check it out. But somehow, I ended up digging in more and found out in a newspaper article talking about how even though the collection just hit stores yesterday, it had almost completely sold out with no plans to do a second run and restock. Wow! So I thought I'd just drop by Target on my way home to see if there was anything left. I wasn't expecting anything, but there were actually a few cool things! I couldn't resist...

Missoni Score

I thought the glass canister was really cool and would make a great cookie jar, and the 3 piece serving platter would be fun at parties or even as unique dinner plates. And I always love the funky melamite plates they have so I picked up just two of them. There were a few other things - wellies, some kids clothes, scarves... there were some really cool tights but I couldn't bring myself to pay $16, so that's all I got.

When I got home, I made up a pizza that I put on my menu plan for this week (look at me, trying to plan ahead!) I did a Mediterranean inspired pizza.

Mediterranean Pizza

For this one, I used whole wheat pizza dough from the store and then made a flavor infused olive oil instead of a sauce (I threw some crushed garlic cloves and some whole cumin seeds in a pan with the oil and cooked it on low until all the flavor soaked in - strain it when it's done). I preheated to 425 and sliced an eggplant in half lengthwise, and then into 1/2" slices (could have gone thinner). I put those on a baking sheet, salted them and sprayed with 0 calorie olive oil spray and roasted them for about 10 minutes. Then I pulled them out, cranked it to 500 and put in my baking stone while it heated.

After it heated, I took out the stone and put the crust on it - I use 6 oz of dough, rolled very thin to about 16" in diameter. Then I poured on the oil and swirled it around with a spoon so it covered the whole crust. Then I layered on the eggplant and also sliced 2 large tomatoes into 1/2" slices and put those on top. I cut 5 large cremini mushrooms into slices and sauteed them in the pan where I had infused the olive oil and then added them on top along with about 1 tbsp of sliced kalamata and green olives. Finally, I crumbled about 1/2 C of feta over the top and popped it back in the oven until the crust was crispy and the feta was golden on top. Then I tore a bunch of fresh basil over top. I meant to throw on a bit of my Sicilian Lemon White Balsamic, but totally spaced it. Good thing I have left-overs! It makes about 8 good-sized slices, and the serving size is 2 slices (6 points plus on WW - can't beat it!). It was yum. I can't wait to try it with the vinegar.

Okay, I'm off to watch a little Restaurant Impossible on my DVR before I crash for the night.

Heads up - Photobook deal

Just throwing this out there for anyone interested... I've been buying photobook deals on Groupon and an internet deal just came up today - it's good for about 10 more hours (until about 10pm mountain). $25 for a $75 photobook on Picaboo or $35 for a $100 book (or canvas, calendar, etc... you pay regular price for anything above that - so extra pages, etc...). It has to be used by November 18. I've got so many pictures from trips that I need the incentive, so I went for it.


I did a little reserarch and found mostly positive reviews. One of the downsides was the number of options available, but they have the ones I'd use so it worked for me. And for the price, it's worth a shot, right? Hope it helps someone! Here's a link to the deal.

Adios to iPad envy.

That's right. After a year of wanting an iPad of my very own, I finally caved. I had been waiting until I had saved up enough money (seeing as how the first time I saved up my computer died and I had to replace it instead), and also waiting for the 2nd generation to come out. And it did. And I had the money in savings. And I have this fantastic trip coming up where an iPad would be pretty sweet to have along. So I ordered one, patiently waited over a month, and then today it finally came.

IPad 1

I almost reverently took it out of the shipping package and carefully removed the plastic from that perfect little white box. It was an emotional moment. Okay, not really. But still.

IPad 2

I got it all set up and registered and as soon as I was done with work, I set to downloading apps. I've got all of the ones I knew I wanted as well as some cool little travel apps for the cities I'll be visiting. I downloaded a few movies that have been on my to-buy list so I'll have them for plane rides and started making a list of some that I might want to download as rentals. I was almost giddy over the fun of it all.

I *heart* my iPad. Seriously.

And since everyone always asks as soon as they find out I ordered one, I got the 64GB 3G with the black leather smart cover. I also picked up the digital camera adapter kit so that I can upload photos and blog them during my trip (because I also purchased an international data plan set to start the morning we land in Madrid. Because I'm nerdy like that.)

Anyway. I'm a happy little camper tonight. It's totally helping off-set my annoyance over having picked up a cold because I wasn't getting enough sleep (that's one of the problems with insomnia. Just sayin'.) Hopefully copious amounts of vitamin C and sleep will remedy the rest of it.

Did I mention that I love my iPad? Because I do.

Okay, moving on. Speaking of insomnia, I had a particularly bad night this last week where I just could NOT sleep and finally got up to do something productive. Nicole recently had a fun little photo shoot of Adorable-Niece-Aubrey, so I printed off a few of the photos to make a layout. This was a fun one to do. And Bree looks so much like Nicole in some of these...

5 Months Cute

Is she not seriously adorable?

Close-up of some of the scrappy stuff:

5 Months Cute Close-up

As fun as it was to do a layout, I'm hoping I've seen the last of my insomnia for a while. This has been a particularly bad and unusually long stretch and it sucks.

So now... I've got some work stuff to do at midnight (switching out some marketing banners on our homepage) and then I've got to hit the sack. So it's time to get ready for bed... and maybe play with my iPad some more. Just a little. :)

Yay for new cookbooks!

Especially really cool ones that you win on your very most favoritest foodie site! (I *heart* Tastespotting... I've been a follower for years. Melissa can attest to this, given that I got her totally addicted as well while we were working together.)

Silver Spoon Pasta Cookbook So yeah. I just saw on today's blog post that I won this cookbook! Given my adoration for all things pasta (especially lately), this is incredibly a propos. You can guarantee that you'll see something from this soon. Although maybe not all that soon given that I'm crazy busy (as you no doubt noticed by my neglectful blogging of late) and the fact that I leave on my school trip a month from today (double fist pump!!!)

Whew. So I'm psyched. And I promise to post more soon... I have one picture from a late night study session at my house last week where Brent caught me totally unaware. It's my best deer-in-the-headlights expression. Plus, naturally, more food. I braised some short ribs in my new le Creuset dutch oven (I'm totally in love with that thing) and made some fabulous gnocchi and even a batch of eclairs. It was all yum. AND... (don't fall over or anything), I've been scrapbooking! First I made a gift album for Melissa as a farewell gift from a few of us at work. No pictures of that one - it's all photos of co-workers with personal messages so I figured I shouldn't post it. I've also been working on my Scrapbook on the Road for my trip. It's coming along quite nicely. I'll post pictures soon.

Okay... back to work.

Two days in a row!

I know... that's just getting crazy.  But don't worry, I'll be back to my usual lackidasical posting in the very near future.  lol.  I was actually able to get a few more layouts done tonight, which was great since I ended up on a conference call with one of my school teams to work on our big project for the semester. (Said project is the current bain of my existance.  I'd much rather work on stuff for my other class!  But c'est la vie, right?)

Steph Wedding pg 18 

  Steph Wedding pg 19

Only 9 more to go... think I'll make it by Friday night?  We'll see!

Just a few more random things... I've been really into these funky, cute necklaces on Etsy lately.  Here's one I got recently that I just adore.  Yes, I could easily have made it myself, but I figured I'd support someone else and let her buy all the cabuchons and vintage bits and put the whole thing together.  lol.  This one was from Tamar.

Esme Necklace

And this one I just found today and splurged on.  I can't wait to get it... (from caughtredhanded).  She hand makes all of the beads - it looks so cool!

Autumn Pebble Necklace

I also ordered a new messenger bag / purse to take on my school trip.  My last travel bag bit the dust.  I loved this one - it's durable, has lots of pockets and space and looks awesome with the added bonus that she made it to the dimensions I wanted so I can easily put my camera in it.  She's putting the finishing touches on it tomorrow and then dropping it in the mail.  (From KuhlBags.)

Messenger bag

I *heart* Etsy.  I try to stay away unless there's something specific I need, like that bag.  I think you can see why.  lol.  But I like supporting local and/or handmade where I can and it has the added bonus of getting me really unique stuff that no one else has. 

K.  That's it... time to call it quits for the night.

P.S.  Go Avs!  Way to break that 10 game losing streak tonight and actually win one.  lol.  It's all good... I don't have time to watch the playoffs this year anyway :D

P.P.S. My March issue of Cooking Light came today, along with my new Light & Healthy cookbook from America's Test Kitchen (I picked up 2010 at the lower price to see how I like it).  More yummies ahead!  I've already marked several new recipes.  Can't wait to pick the next one to test out.

Time is flying!

I can't believe it's already been another two weeks since my last post AND that February is almost over!  I've been busy as usual... crazy at work, trying to keep up and learn as much as I can at school and keeping it balanced at home as much as possible.   

First, the EMBA singles went back to Mazza on Friday and I drove up to meet them, but of course I totally spaced taking any pictures.  There were 5 of us and we met up with 4 more from the Salt Lake class of 2012 and it was great to meet new people and hang out and get to know each other.  The food was wonderful, as usual.  I ordered appetizers for the table and I have to say the tomatoes with bulgar, the labdeh and the little lamb pizza were amazing.  I also got a chick pea and fava bean dip that I really loved.  There was just enough for each of us to have a few bites of everything.  Then I had my lamb and rice which was drool-worthy; the rice was amazing.  And to top it all off, a date ma'mool.  I so can't wait for our trip to the Middle East.  I just hope our hotels have gyms to help me counteract all the awesome food.  lol.

Speaking of food, as usual, I've been cooking up a storm... three FABULOUS new recipes.  First, I made my very own homemade ravioli.  I made the pasta, filling and sauce all from scratch and I have to say, it was awesome.  The filling was fat free ricotta, fresh grated parmesan, salt and pepper, an egg, a few handfuls of rough chopped fresh organic baby spinach and some lean Italian chicken sausage (pre-cooked since ravioli don't cook for long).  I will definitely make this again... delish.

Homemade Ravioli in process

And the finished product...

Homemade Ravioli

Next, I made a beef and butternut squash tagine using a recipe from the latest issue of Cooking Light.  Wow was it yum.  Another recipe going into the "keep" pile!  I had leftovers tonight and it was just as fabulous.  Lots of fantastic flavor.  I just paired it with a light couscous salad that I got in a tub at Costco for $2.  You can't beat that!

Beef and Butternut Squash Tagine 2

And one more... this is from my Power Foods book (my health coach challenged me to cook a few recipes from it this month.  I also did roasted pears and brussel sprouts.  No picture, but also delicious).  This one is a paprika rubbed chicken with carrots, fennel, apricots and olives in a sauce made from chicken broth and fresh squeezed orange juice with cumin and more paprika.  Really excellent. I love fennel and the combination of flavors in the different ingredients was fantastic.

Paprika Chicken with Carrots and Fennel

k.  That's it for the food portion of tonight's blog.  lol.  Next, a little peek at something else I picked up recently:

Kickboxing Gloves

Yup.  I started kickboxing last month.  I LOVE it.  Right now I'm just going on Saturday mornings since that's about all I can fit into my schedule, but getting up after a long, frequently stressful week and going in to pound on a punching bag while sweating it out to great music is awesome.  It's at a nearby martial arts academy and it's definitely not a fluff class.  We do partner drills and bag drills with self-defense mixed in and it's a solid hour of hard work.  The first two weeks, I felt like I'd been hit by a truck the next day and I could barely move!  I'm really proud that I wasn't in any pain the next day after this last time... just a little stiffness in my shoulders from all the punching drills. 

And finally... ta da!  I did some layouts for Steph's wedding album.  My goal is to have it finished before I see her this weekend, but we'll see if I make it.  I still have 11 pages left and I have a feeling work and school might interfere with my plans.  But in the meantime...

Steph Wedding pg 15-16

And one more...

Steph Wedding pg 17

Whew!  That's it for now... off to get ready to get back into my regular schedule tomorrow.  Later!

Feeling oddly proud.

Because I did this:

Worn out treadmill belt

I completely wore out the belt of my treadmill.  The repair guy came today and replaced it for me and when I saw the backside of the old belt I was surprised it hadn't completely come apart while I was using it and super lucky I didn't hurt myself!  The duct tape did the job just long enough, I guess, but that sucker was totally frayed on the back.  I had ordered the replacement part and thought I would put it in myself until I saw the instructions... then I called Sears.  lol.  I'm pretty handy, but watching the guy replace it confirmed that I made the right decision - it took him an hour and he had to pretty much take apart the entire thing.  I'm looking forward to working out in the morning without worrying about stepping in that hole!

And now... drumroll please... I did a layout!  I know.  I haven't scrapbooked since before Christmas.  I'm not sure I've got my mojo back (let alone the time), but I've had insomnia this week so I worked on it a bit in between other things in the middle of the night.  This is from the first time I met Adorable-Niece-Aubrey back in October at the hospital in Virginia.

Hey There

And a little close-up:

Hey There Close-up 2

Hopefully it doesn't take another six weeks before the next layout.  lol.

Of course, even without the scrapping mojo, I've still been cooking!  I've made some really delicious stuff in the last month.  However, since I haven't posted anything in forever, I figured posting all the recipes at once would probably be a bad idea.  So here's a little collage of the yumminess.

January 2011 Cooking

From top-left down to bottom-right, we have my not-quite-world-famous Tex-Mex Chicken Soup which I can never get enough of.  Next, a fantastic olive tapenade that I made and took for the little snack buffet we had before our class discussion of Man's Search for Meaning last week.  It's made with kalamata and black olives, pistachios, garlic, lemon juice and a touch of olive oil.  Next, from the Lebanese cookbook I got for Christmas, stuffed squash along with some Muhamarra and endive lettuce (the recipe for that was from Ellie Krieger's book, The Food you Crave which is fabulous.)  Next, because I couldn't bring myself to throw out the insides of the squash, I made a soup with it.  It's pumpkin, squash and potato mixed with cinnamon, allspice, salt, pepper, honey and some greek yogurt.  Toasted pepitas on top and it was fabulous!  Then, another from The Food you Crave - a corn-crusted roasted ratatouille tart.  There's one word for that one.  Yum.  I'll be making that again.  Finally, this weekend I went back to Claudia Roden's Arabesque for a Moroccan recipe - chicken with dates.  It doesn't look like much, but it's in a caramalized onion sauce made with ginger, cinnamon, saffron and honey and there are some little dates stuffed with blanched almonds.  It was fantastic (and yes, I ate the onions.  Go me!)

Whew!  And since I'm already talking about food, I have to bring up a few things that I'm totally addicted to.

Medjool Dates Medjool dates.  I could eat them like candy.  In fact, I kind of do.  They're insanely good and I can get them in big packages at Costco.  Bonus!  Sometimes I stuff them with a light cheese, honey and chopped pistachios.  But I could just eat these all day long.

Justin's Maple Almond Butter Justin's Maple Almond Butter.  I love almond butter in general, but this stuff is sooooo good.  The sweetness from the maple is insane.  I have a very hard controlling myself enough to remember that it's 3 points per tablespoon.  It's expensive, but worth every penny - especially if you just eat a little at a time.

 Market Pantry Whip ToppingFinally, believe it or not, I'm addicted to the Target version of fat free cool whip (it has to be FF, not light).  I think it has way better flavor than actual Cool Whip brand.  I could eat an entire container in one sitting if I didn't watch myself.  It's my little trick for feeling like I'm indulging myself.  I may or may not occasionally mix a few tablespoons of this with a tablespoon of almond butter.  Just sayin.'  Reduced fat graham crackers may also come into play.

Okay, that's it for now.  I've got a full day tomorrow and I'm going to try and get to bed early to make up for some of the insomnia.

P.S.  I found out that my school trip includes a stop in Marrakesh!  I'm super excited.  It wasn't on the original list, but it looks like that's our first city.  Marrakesh has been on my top 3 list of places I want to visit for years.  For the rest, we're all keeping a close eye on the Egypt situation to see if we need to change plans.  For now we're not, but we'll see what happens.  I hope it all works out... I'm really looking forward to seeing the pyramids! Crossing my fingers.

See You at Seven

Just popping in with a quick update... I think I've mentioned a few times that I've been spending time on the side working on a start-up business with some friends at school.  I helped with stuff for branding and also did most of the design and copy work on the website (not saying it's good... more of a result of the lack of resources in a start-up!)  And it's live!

If you're in the greater Salt Lake area and interested in a way to plan dates or events, check it out!  There are a few events there already with lots more to come.  See You at Seven


Um... what next?

This morning, as I'm groggily attempting to shake off my total lack of sleep after a (probably less than wise) midnight viewing of Harry Potter 7, I heard this scratchy rustling.  It sounded like when people hang stuff on your doornob and it blows in the wind and scratches the door.  Only as I walked toward the front door, the sound got quieter.  I backtracked and realized it was coming from the guest bathroom!  It was the scratching of the shower curtain!  That could mean only one thing.  I went in and shook it and yes indeed... the scramble of little mouse feet.  I pulled the curtain free leaving Maleficent in the tub...

Maleficent the Mouse

Looking at her, she's actually kind of cute!  Maybe more of a Morticia after all.  She's had a habit of turning up in unlikely places since she moved in, but this tops them.  The bathtub.  Really?  She eludes all my traps and ends up in the bathtub?

So what do I do now?  I can't leave her there, but I don't want to put a trap in with her or try and take her out somehow, because then what do I do?  Argh.  I'm such a softie.  I can't stand the thought of deliberately killing it, even if it's technically vermin, but I know I'm going to have to suck it up.

A little reward

So I decided a long time ago what reward I wanted to give myself if I reached a certain milestone in my continuing quest for healthy living.  Zebra striped platorm heels.  I know.  I'm weird.  What can I say?  When I started getting close to my goal, I checked online to see if they were still available and what do you know?  Just one pair left in my size.  I bought them and they've been sitting in my closet for a few weeks.  I refused to cheat and wear them early but this weekend I earned them.  So today they came out.

Zebra Shoes

I've had tons of comments today... emails in meetings that say "nice shoes!"  people taking pictures of the shoes and emailing them to friends who will be jealous (apparently)... even the guys have been commenting.  So, I figured at this point they're probably blog-worthy, right? (And also Mom wants to see.  Lol.)  I'm loving them (and yes, I definitely got the gel inserts!)

P.S.  The black stripes are fuzzy!  Like cool fuzzy, not early '80s velvet painting fuzzy.

Mouse in my house.

And I wish I was talking about a Dr. Seuss book... lol.  Ever since I started working on a project for my Creativity & Innovation class about Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse, this little mouse has shown up.  It's totally freaking me out.  I've got traps, but he's wiley.  One of my friends suggested that in the meantime, naming him might help.  lol.  Why not?  I decided to call him Arturo (Morticia and Maleficent were suggested... I really like Maleficent - more fitting, yes?)  Since it seems to have taken up residence in my attic and I needed to avert the image of him nibbling and nesting with my scrapbook paper, I decided that in the spirit of Ratatouille, it's a frustrated creative spirit who prefers making layouts to nibbling and nesting.  It's also possible that I'm more freaked out by the traps than the mouse itself... I swear if itcomes out right now and gets caught in that thing, I'll be scarred for life (and I can totally hear it.  Freaked, I tell you.)

But that's beside the point... I've been up here emailing while we work on our presentation for tomorrow's class and between emails I decided to actually do a layout.  In reality, I was supposed to be working on birthday cards for all the birthdays this month but since cards aren't my strong suit, I was easily distracted.  Here's my first layout of Adorable-Niece-Aubrey.


And a close-up...

Snuggle Close-up

Also, another fun little culinary concoction.  Yet another experiment with figs... this was based on my last recipe with the flatbread, gorgonzola, apples and honey.  I decided to change it up so it would work as a meal.  I used Orowheat Sandwich thins to make little pizzas. 

Fig and Apple Sausage Pizza

I toasted the bread and then spread some Laughing Cow blue cheese over top.  I added turkey apple maple sausage, asian pear, black mission figs, parmigiano reggiano and a little light maple syrup.  Put it all under the broiler just long enough to get a little caramelization on the figs and melt the cheese... both halves were 7 points and it was too much for one serving!  Yummy, though.

Okay, since I'm actually having to ask Arturo to please stop making noise and NOT come out where I can see him, I think the wise thing to do here is shut everything down, move the trap closer to where I can hear him, and skedaddle.


(Too late!  I just saw him.  I'm so gone.  Please trap, do your work!)

Snow. Yay.

The view of the front of my little townhouse as I was leaving for work this morning:


I've got about 3" on the ground, but I have to admit I was thrilled that it didn't stick to the driveway or roads.  My love of snow is well known... I may have referred to it once or twice as "that evil white stuff" or "the devil's rain."  I suppose I should be grateful that it's the end of October and this is the first snow.  But I have to say, this is when I think back to my reasoning when I picked this location to move to and wonder what on earth I was thinking.  Add this to going back to school and the horrendous construction on I-15 and I find myself wishing I'd just moved to Provo at least once or twice a day.  Oh well, live and learn, right?  We'll see how I'm feeling as my lease is close to being up next spring.

P.S.  We're all anxiously awaiting the arrival of the newest addition to the family... Nicole is in the hospital as we speak and I'm waiting on pins and needles for the announcement that my newest niece has joined us.  I can't wait to see her on Saturday!

Look, it's a bear!

It's been a busy couple of weeks!  I've been swamped with homework, studying and other fun stuff and haven't really had any time to post.  I've tried a few fun new recipes that I'll probably share when I get around to a real post again... lol.  In the meantime, to prove that I'm still around, I thought I'd share some YouTube love.  I'm sure this has made the rounds, but I hadn't seen it... saw this for the first time when we had a little YouTube fun at our Strategy mid-term study session last week.  This one nearly brought me to tears I was laughing so hard.

True story.

Thanks Rae...

... for succeeding in making me simultaneously super excited for hockey season to start in a few weeks and totally homesick.  lol.

Rae just sent me a link to this video from Remy; the genius behind "The Arlington Rap," has also done the Capitals song (sung to the tune we sang during a break at every game... "oh the good old hockey game is the best game you can name..."  Of course, if you don't like hockey you probably won't actually enjoy this.  :D

I'm just trying to think of how many times I followed that EXACT routine... from route 66 to the Vienna metro station taking the Orange line to Gallery Place. It even had the old guy with the dreds playing the sax. He was there at every single game, I swear. Sigh. That's definitely one of the things I miss the most living out here in Utah. We've got the Grizzlies, but it's just not the same.

P.S.  The new Linkin Park is awesome.  iTunes doesn't download in order so I was just listening to songs at random and was kind of disappointed.  However, once I listened to the entire album from start to finish, I totally loved it.  Good stuff!

Where does the time go?

I think I say this all the time, but I can't believe how fast time is flying!  It's already September!  I guess it's just that I'm having fun... and we all know how time flies when that happens :)

I have managed to squeeze in a smidge of scrapbooking.  I went back to the safari mini album that I started in May (yikes!!!) and finished pages for all of the rest of the pictures that I have printed out so far.  Time to print some more!  In the meantime, here are the new pages (all the new pictures = 2ish pages.  lol.)

Safari Mini Album 3 

And a glimpse of what it looks like if I flip the little mini page:

Safari Mini Album 3 Close-up

Man that was an awesome trip.

School is going well so far this semester and I'm enjoying my classes and spending time with the friends I've made there.  I've also been on a cooking kick lately and I've hardly scrapbooked at all.  When I'm home, conscious and not exercising, I swear I'm either watching cooking shows, cooking, or reading cookbooks.  Or some combination of the above (IE tonight, I watched Master Chef while reading my newest cookbook.)  I'm a nerd.  I own it.

Speaking of... here's my latest special delivery from the Amazon fairy:

Middle Eastern Cooking

My latest crazy interest is Middle Eastern cooking.  Which if you know me isn't actually all that crazy... I've long adored Moroccan, Lebanese and Turkish food and since I'm very likely to be heading back to the Middle East on my Foreign Business Excursion for school this coming spring, it's got me craving it more than usual.  Add to that the fact that it tends to be really healthy food and I'm all over it.  I just finished seasoning my tagine tonight and I can't wait to cook something in it!  And this cookbook... I adore it.  It had super high reviews so I picked it to start with.  I'm seriously just reading it... she weaves the recipes (over 800 of them) in and out of anecdotes, history, travel highlights and other insights. Or is it the other way around?  Anyway,it's super well written and just fascinating.  Not to mention the recipes have me drooling... even the ones without pictures!  This is the year I learn to cook artichokes.  I'm going for it.

Finally, I've become obsessed with herbs and spices as a way to learn to add flavor to my food without using lots of fatty yummies (IE cheese.  I miss cheese).   Tonight I made quick, light samosas with lots of Indian spices.  Can I just say, yum?  So good.  Anyway... back to the point.

Herb Garden Seed Cups

So I'm attempting to grow a little kitchen herb garden.  I got a bunch of different seeds and all kinds of special dirt and stuff.  I looked up all different instructions and tips on growing your own herbs from seed and they all said something different so I just gave it my best shot.  They've only been planted for a few days so I guess sometime next week we'll see if I did it right.  If not, I've got more seeds!  It's all good.

k... off to bed!  I've got to present in class for my group tomorrow night in Leadership so I should probably get some sleep :)

This week...

...I have absolutely nothing interesting to post.  So far.  lol.  But I have a few fun new finds that I wanted to share.

I've been searching for a good non-fat Greek yogurt for a while, and this stuff is yum!  Peach is my favorite so far.  It's really good mixed with 1/4 cup of granola.

Archer Farms Granola Bites.  I can't find a picture, but I'm loving these... especially the Chocolate, Caramel, Sea Salt & Almond ones.  They're like a fun little 80 calorie dessert and perfect to throw in my bag as an after dinner treat on school nights.

I'm loving all the new goodies starting to show up in stores from CHA!  I'm still waiting to see some of the lines I'm drooling over, but I have to admit that as soon as Prima showed up, I put in an order.  I've been especially excited about these masks:

Prima masks

I'm loving my new exercise playlist... I added back in tons of old favorites including lots of Linkin Park, a little White Zombie and even some Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson (in small doses.  lol).  I also added some new favorites like MuteMath and Passion Pit.  Good for motivation in the mornings.

And who doesn't love giveaways?  Especially with lots of Prima and American Crafts goodies!


Okay... enough rambling for now.  Excited for my package from the Pink Paislee warehouse sale to show up today along with my new Asics cross trainers (the blisters on my heels will thank me in the morning).  I'd like to do a little scrapping tonight, but we'll see how I'm feeling.  Lately I'm so tired that I all I can do is crash!  I guess it will take a while to get used to being on an exercise plan with my school schedule.


A beautiful day.

And I'm not just talking about the weather, although it's pretty gorgeous outside now that I think about it.  Anyway, Thursday afternoon, Mr. FedEx showed up at my door and made me a happy girl.

New Dell 1

New Dell 2

I worked from home Thursday so I could be there to sign for the delivery and then after I finished work, I hauled my new baby upstairs and swapped it out with my old computer.  I got all my peripherals attached and installed... I had to do a little searching online to get new drivers since I upgraded my OS, but so far so good.  I got Microsoft Office 2010 installed... got iTunes set up... switched my Photoshop license over and I'm moving!  It's such a beautiful thing to have programs open in seconds instead of minutes... pulling photos off my camera is super fast (not to mention the convenience of my 19 in 1 built in card reader!)  And I'm actually blogging while listening to music and with Photoshop open and no warnings that I'm out of memory or sudden crashes! 

Yes.  It's a beautiful day :)  Now I'm off do to some scrapbooking!

After months of whining...

via www.dell.com

...as well as months of saving up, I bought a new computer. YAY!!! The thought of moving everything over and reinstalling isn't exciting, but it shouldn't be too bad and it will be more than worth it. Only a few more weeks of me moaning and complaining about my super slow computer with the crapped-out display driver that will only support one program at a time. My existing computer is about 7 years old and I think it's actually a Pentium processor if that tells you what I'm working with. I'm excited for the day when I can run Photoshop and iTunes at the same time and not have to wait 10 minutes for my files to open. Music downloads in less than an hour... ah. I need to stop day dreaming - it's still about 2 weeks until delivery. lol.