Feeling Greige

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The Hubs and I decided a while back to get the interior of the condo painted before tackling any other big projects. If you’ve seen the red and green living area, you can’t blame us for wanting to paint ASAP (Although maybe we should take advantage of the current color scheme and paint after the Christmas season? Or not.). We truly thought that painting would be an easy, low stress way to ease ourselves into this whole DIY thing. We were wrong.

The first step was picking a color. We’d decided to paint the living room, dining room, and main areas of the house (like the stairway) all one color, so we needed something neutral. A while back, I was inspired by a mood board I’d seen on 7th House on the Left.

I lurve the cool blue and grey tones. Plus, our sofas are beige like the one in the mood board and we have been planning to install laminate flooring in a dark chocolate color similar to the ottoman pictured above. So to get this look in our condo, the Hubs and I decided to go with a greige (grey beige) paint on the walls, complete with bright white baseboards and ceilings, with touches of blue in the accessories.

Unfortunately, finding the right greige was a challenge. We hit up Home Depot for paint samples and were so disappointed with the three we picked. We slapped them up on the walls and then realized they all had weird undertones that weren’t apparent in the swatches. Then the frustration set in.

These all look like poop to me.

Luckily, I have a helpful cousin who has her own DIY blog and she offered her advice. Instead of just selecting single paint swatches at random, as we’d done, she suggested first looking for those paint swatches with multiple shades of color on them.

You know the type.

She said this way, when you find a greige you like, you can look at that same color in a more saturated form (the darkest color on the swatch) and determine if THAT color looks too blue, brown, red, green, etc. This helps you avoid colors with undesirable undertones. I cannot even begin to tell you how helpful this was.

The Hubs and I visited a local hardware store with this information last weekend and actually ended up with 4 promising paint samples. After studying them for a few days in a variety of lights, we’ve settled on Ozark Shadows by Benjamin Moore.

Mmmmmmm, greige.

It’s that perfect sleek grey that will look wonderful with white baseboards and trim, but it has just a touch of warmth to it, so it will coordinate with our tan furniture. Plus, the Hubs is from Missouri, so the name is fitting. I am SO excited to get this paint on the walls you have no idea.

I am keeping my excitement at bay for the moment since there is a LOT of prep work to be done first. This includes but is not limited to:

  1. Painting the ceilings a bright white. ALL the ceilings. Including the 20 foot vaulted beauties in the stairwell. We have an extension rod for our paint roller and a huge extension ladder (wedging it into my Ford Contour was a fun way to spend an afternoon in the Home Depot parking lot), but edging will still be a challenge I’m not looking forward to. Speaking of which…
  2. Edging. Since precisely placing painter’s tape up on those vaulted ceilings is easier said than done, we bought an edger tool for $5. Cross your fingers it will perform as the 5-star reviewers promise.
  3. Adding texture to patched areas. We have already spackled most of the holes, but those patches are now nice and smooth. This is a problem because the walls have an orange peel texture on them. We picked up some texture-in-a-can and need to spray it over the patches so they blend into the surrounding wall.
  4. Priming the dining and living room walls. Oh red wall, bane of my existence. You’re going to cost me so much time, money, and sanity. While testing the paint samples, we realized the red walls will take about 3 coats of primer to cover the color completely. As for our green room, it will take about 2 coats.

All I have to say about this is blergh. That’s a lot of prep work. Looking on the bright side, at least we’re not painting the bedrooms, bathrooms or kitchen! We will eventually paint those rooms as we get to them, but for now we’ll live with the purple, blue, green and yellow kaleidoscope.

With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, and having no intention of braving the Black Friday madness, I’m hoping to spend the long weekend painting like a mad woman. As long as I don’t get too distracted by the Macy’s parade and the turkey/wine coma doesn’t knock me out for more than a few hours, I think this is do-able. Until then, have a very happy turkey day, everyone!

I Survived SF2012

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Hey all you party people! I’ve been busy since returning from San Francisco a couple weeks ago, so I’m just now getting around to writing about the amazing weekend I spent with my girls in the city by the bay. I’ll save you the unsavory details and just recap the highlights of the trip.

Thursday

Flight is delayed. I’m angry. Julia and Chrissy are enjoying a delicious meal while I’m stuck at Gate 14. I drink wine to pass the time.

Finally arrive at SFO and successfully navigate a train and a taxi to arrive at Hotel Boheme, a quaint building tucked between Little Italy and Chinatown. Julia meets me curbside and we squeal and hug, much to the annoyance of the diners eating on the sidewalk nearby.

Hotel Boheme is beautiful and cozy and has so much history, but I don’t notice any of this because the stairs are so steep all I can think about is falling and breaking my neck.

Chrissy welcomes me to our room by showing me my bed for the weekend – a pile of blankets on the floor that she has so kindly arranged for me.

Friday

Taxi ride from hell makes me question the existence of an afterlife.

Stroll down Haight Street in the rain and curse ourselves for forgetting an umbrella.

Arrive at Amoeba Records and peruse the concert posters. Julia buys herself a replica poster advertising Kesey’s Acid Test. She makes me proud.

Julia vomits in the gutter while a bum watches. I harass her for eating bone marrow the night before and we laugh at her misfortune.

Get a drink at Alembic Bar and marvel at the bartender’s skills.

Get lunch at Magnolia Pub and complain about the restaurant no longer offering the Montana Banana. It’s a travesty.

Pop into Loved to Death and drool over the embalming machines, taxidermy squirrels, and exorcism kits. Decide to buy a non-creepy skeleton key necklace instead.

Buy “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins at Bound Together Anarchist Collective Bookstore. Have apparently put the morning’s cab ride out of my mind.

Arrive back at hotel to relax. Fall asleep watching Nicolas Cage in his finest acting performance as the star of The Wicker Man and miss the ghost tour we’d been planning to attend. Decide to get dinner instead.

Walk a vomit-y looking Julia back to the hotel and hit up a gelateria for some spumoni with Chrissy. Overhear an adult man get reprimanded by his elderly mother in the middle of the street.

Saturday

Julia is well! It’s a birthday miracle! Decide to walk to Fisherman’s Wharf and spend the day doing the tourist thing.

Take photos of a bum and the Ghiradelli factory.

Can’t get a table at Buena Vista Cafe and are bummed to miss out on Irish coffee. Spend a good 5 minutes convincing Julia that the waitress won’t give her one in a to-go cup.

Make fools of ourselves posing in a broken down rowboat on the beach. Chrissy takes photos as tourists stop to ask if we’re putting on a show.

Overhear sailor speaking in British accent and swoon audibly.

Arrive at Pier 39 and watch the sea lions bask in the sunshine. Take photos of Alcatraz and harass the seagulls.

Walk back to Little Italy through Washington Square, pausing at Saints Peter and Paul Church to critique the bridal fashions of a wedding procession.

Share a bottle of wine at Calzone’s Pizza Cucina next door to the hotel and laugh so hard I snort when Chrissy tries to get Julia to recreate a scene from Dirty Dancing.

Send Julia to hotel room so Chrissy and I can pick up her cake at Stella’s. Cashier high fives us when he sees our custom cake features Nicolas Cage.

Julia blows out her candles and we dig into the Cage face cake. The horse mask makes an appearance.

Taxi it to Queen Anne Hotel for a ghost tour. I volunteer for a telekinesis demonstration but we fail to see any ghosts.

Hit up City Lights Bookstore and Vesuvio Bar. Stand where Kerouac stood. Think about Ginsberg and Cassady. Quote “Howl” on the street corner.

If these highlights didn’t tickle your fancy, maybe Julia’s music video will. Please to enjoy the official SF2012 movie.

Home Tour #1

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I finally made a home tour video! *cue sarcastic applause* I rushed home from work on Monday to film before the sun set, but I still ended up with some pretty dark rooms toward the end of the video. However, I did find my Flip camera, so yay for HD. Since I’m an amateur videographer, please forgive the following:

  • The shaky camera. I tried to keep my hand steady, but it’s harder than you might imagine.
  • The bad camera angles. You see a lot of the floor. Oops. In my defense, there are a LOT of random objects on the floor of the condo that need to be put away and a few slippery tarps, so as I filmed, I was also dodging obstacles.
  • The dark guest bedroom. You’ll see me pause for a long second before entering the first bedroom because I suddenly realize how dark it is and try to come up with a solution on the fly. Then I just show you the dark room instead.
  • My voice over. I didn’t write a script or even put much thought into what I was going to talk about in each room. So I ramble a little and jump from point to point, and even spin in a circle once on the patio.
  • The super awkward ending. I realized I was finished filming and didn’t know what to say. Because I answer the phone all day at work, I signed off with my default: “And we’ll talk to you soon!” Not sure what I was thinking.

Hopefully, as work progresses on the condo I’ll make another home tour video and improve my film making skills. Until then, just deal with it. And now, without further ado, here’s the tour…

So that’s it! Since it’s hard to get a sense of the condo’s layout through photos alone, I hope this video clears things up a bit. Once I get back from San Fran next week, I’ll be designing a floor plan online to post for you too. Then you’ll all know exactly how to find me to kill me in my sleep.

Okay, that’s all for now. Wish me luck tomorrow as I jet off to San Francisco!

A Couple Realizations

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Well, I had hoped my next post would be a home tour, but alas. With the sun setting earlier every night, I can’t seem to make it home from work before the entire condo is dark. And my readers deserve better than a poorly lit camera phone video (no, I have not yet located my camera). Plus, I’m not as far along in the unpacking process as I’d like to be. Don’t get me wrong! There has been a lot of progress made around the home front, but those moving boxes are still stacked high in the spare bedroom.

Empty box tower = progress

Over the past few weeks, I’ve come to realize a couple things about my condo. One, the previous owners never cleaned it. In seven years. Seriously.

You saw the carpet. You know.

But the grime didn’t end with the carpets. Every drawer in the kitchen and bathroom vanities was full of crumbs and dirt and hair (grossssss). The ugly tile floors on the stairs and in the entryway, kitchen and bathrooms (which isn’t tile at all, but actually stamped cement or something?) has the world’s deepest grout lines, which collect not just dirt and dust, but large chunks of gunk that the regular vacuum won’t pick up. And I refuse to haul the Shop-Vac room-by-room to remedy the issue. So gross it shall remain until the day we tear it out.

Rudy turns his nose up at these grout lines.

I know what you’re thinking. Yes, we hired someone to clean our house before moving in and yes, they did a fine job. But I’m slightly OCD about keeping things clean and I simply cannot put my dishes and toothbrush away in dirty cabinets. I have a fear of living in other peoples’ filth. This phobia manifested when I moved into the dorms in college (understandably). I can live in my own grime, but not yours.

So, before I was able to unpack and get settled in, EVERYTHING had to be cleaned to my specifications (ie. sanitary). I spent no less than 6 evenings putting shelf paper down in every cabinet and drawer. I scrubbed the kitchen until I could scrub no more. And as I did so, I kept discovering new things that made me yell, “SICK!” (Not joking. The Hubs doesn’t even ask what’s wrong anymore when I shout words like, “Gross!” “Sick!” and “How can people live like this!?”)

As I vacuumed the baseboards in the kitchen last week, I found mounds of cat fur and dirt at the base of the oven. No problem, just vacuum that crap up, right? So I removed the bottom drawer and found sticky goo all over the inside of it. Then, as I investigated the source of the goo, I saw that it had dripped all over the sides of the oven as well, which I can only assume is due to a pot of caramel or possibly syrup boiling over on the stove years ago. So, I pulled the oven out from the wall and scrubbed for hours, HOURS, until the stickiness subsided. Then (yes, this story goes on), I realized that the same sticky goo was also splattered on the ceiling and walls! Ridiculous. So you can see why I haven’t unpacked more. It’s just one thing after another with this place. I start my day thinking, “I’m going put away all the kitchen stuff today!” and by the time I go to bed, I’m muttering, “Hope I can finish cleaning the dishwasher before noon tomorrow.” (Note: the dishwasher is still not clean nor functional).

The second thing I’ve realized about my new condo is that the people who owned the property before the previous owners (and who did all the renovations) didn’t know what the heck they were doing, and/or were super lazy. These owners completed a whole slew of projects around the house. They painted, replaced the carpet, updated the light fixtures in the bathrooms and kitchen, installed ceiling fans, and repainted the kitchen cabinets. This should be a good thing, right? Wrong.

Fresh paint is good. Painting the living room dark red and the adjoining dining room bright green is bad. Painting without patching any holes in the drywall is worse.

Updated light fixtures are good. Having a bedroom that never gets any brighter than “dim” is bad. The fact that half of the recessed kitchen lights don’t work is worse.

Functional ceiling fans are good. Ugly ones that need replacing are bad. Installing them without first finding the center of the room is worse.

Repainting dark kitchen cabinets a bright white is good. Doing so without removing the shelf paper first is bad. Spray painting them without protecting your stainless steel appliances is worse.

So there’s a lot of work to do and re-do. We will get to it all eventually. In the meantime, I actually get to take a break from all this housework soon! Yes, SF 2012 is upon us. This Thursday, I’m headed up to San Francisco for the first time ever to meet up with my bestest friends in the whole world!!! You may know them as Julia from Jules Just Write and Chrissy from Down & Dirty Design. I know them as my main bitches. We’re all flying into San Fran to celebrate Julia’s upcoming birthday and to cause a little craziness. Words simply cannot express how maniacally excited I am. I’m sure there will be a lengthy blog post about this event after I return, with all the inappropriate bits edited out. There are just some things best kept between friends and off the internet.

Let the Games Begin!

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Condo renovations are officially underway! This is really, really exciting. With all the stress surrounding buying the condo and moving, I assumed renovations would be put on hold while we unpacked and settled in and decompressed. I was wrong.

In fact, the Hubs and I started renovations before we even brought a single moving box into the house! Shocking, I know. Especially when you consider how ridiculously organized I am when it comes to planning every tiny detail with big projects like this. So, here’s what went down…

We received the condo keys last Friday night and immediately called a cleaning service, hoping for a last-minute appointment on Saturday. The previous condo owners had kids and cats, so a heavy-duty cleaning was very necessary before we started moving our belongings in. Not to mention the fact that the house sat unoccupied for over a month and that I am totally OCD about having a clean house (it’s a sickness). Unfortunately, the cleaning company didn’t have an available appointment until Sunday morning, so the Hubs and I decided to spend one more night in the hotel. After all, what’s one more night when you’ve already spent four weeks there?

So Saturday, we paced around the hotel room until we couldn’t take it any more and drove over to the condo. There had to be something we could work on. We had discussed what we’d like to do with the floors in the past and every option seemed to begin with tearing out the old, gross carpet. But we worried the sub-floor would be rotted plywood or something that was better left covered up. Luckily, when we pulled up a corner of the carpet in the living room, we found concrete. Hallelujah! This meant we could tear out the disgusting, soiled carpet and live on the much more hygienic concrete floors until we were ready to drop some money on new laminate or tile.

Those are not shadows, they’re stains.

Sadly, as we pulled more carpet back, we found our lovely concrete actually looks like this…

“Oops! I just spilled a gallon of paint on the floor! Should I clean it up?” “Nah, throw some carpet over it.”

Dang. Carpet glue and paint galore. Not ideal. So, off to Home Depot we flew to pick up a crow bar (for tearing out the tack strips) and some glue remover. A Home Depot employee recommended a product called Goof Off so we grabbed a bottle of that and headed back home. After a couple of hours of prying up the tack strips, baseboards, and nails, and dragging the rolled carpet into the garage, we were spent. The glue would have to wait for Sunday.

Soiled carpet never looked so good.

As the cleaners scrubbed and vacuumed Sunday morning, the Hubs and I got to work on the glue and paint. Goof Off seemed to have been a good buy, as I’d done some research the night before and found it highly recommended online for this type of project. However, when I opened it, the fumes were horrible! I decided not to wimp out and instead poured it onto the floor and scraped away with a razor blade. In the areas with light glue coverage, it seemed to do the trick. But, in the more thick spots, it just seemed to make the glue malleable and sticky. Plus, the scraping was taking forever and I had about 500 square feet to cover. There had to be a better option.

Back to the internet. People seem to agree that boiling water poured over the glue and left to sit for about 10 minutes works better than many chemical solvents. So I dug my spaghetti pot out of storage and tried this method. Pro: No fumes. Con: Works equally as poorly as Goof Off.

So I consulted the internet yet again. At this point, I was wondering if removing the glue and paint was really necessary for installing tile or laminate flooring on top of the concrete. It is (blergh). Also, when I poured water all over the floors, the hills and valleys of our incredibly uneven concrete slab revealed themselves. This means we need to level the concrete too. Ugh.

After more research over the next couple days, I was able to devise a game plan for our floors. Here’s what I came up with…

1. Hire someone who offers concrete grinding to sand down the paint and glue, and to grind down the high points in the concrete. (I’m currently looking into concrete grinder rentals also to see if this could be a DIY project, perhaps?)

2. Patch the cracks and holes in the floor with latex.

3. Smooth out the floor with self-leveling compound.

4. Install laminate or tile flooring.

So there you have it. Our flooring game plan. It’s a bit of a disappointment to realize a simple project like this became a much more intensive process, but hey, it’s home renovation. That’s the way it goes. I’m hoping to get step one completed within the next couple weeks so that we can simply live on a clean floor, instead of side stepping glue. The rest of the steps aren’t as urgent and we should be able to DIY them all, so we’ll work on them as we have time.

It doesn’t look like progress, but we both know it is.

As for this week, the floor is going to be put on hold as we get our furniture and boxes moved in and unpacked. Hopefully, I’ll have time to record a house tour for you and get some “before” photos up. If any of you have dealt with flooring issues like we are, I’d love to hear your stories and any advice! And as always, thanks for reading!

Sorry about the crappy photo quality! My camera is hiding in one of the moving boxes, but I don’t know where!

Pardon My Hiatus

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Well hey there! I’m not even sure where to begin, having been on blogger sabbatical for the past two and a half months. I guess I should start by explaining my sudden lapse in posting and to apologize to all my loyal followers (all both of you).

So, back in March, the Hubs and I began looking for an investment property in Orange County. With home prices at historical lows, we thought purchasing a condo, remodeling it, and selling it in a couple years when the market improves would be a great way to pay off some of those pesky student loans. After finding a short sale with a great floor plan, we put in an offer. Then we waited. And waited. And waited some more.

Finally, July rolled around and the bank accepted our offer! We were thrilled and immediately contacted our lender to move forward with our paperwork. Then we waited. And waited. And got really nervous. Our lender had stopped answering our calls. Considering we wanted to close on the condo and move in before August, this did not bode well. So we fired our lender and went with another company recommended by our realtor. They seemed promising at first, guaranteeing financing within 10 days, answering our emails and calls, and acting generally helpful. But before long, they too dropped the ball.

The 10-day deadline came and went. The lender kept telling us we were so close to closing on our condo and there was just a little bit of paperwork left to file. Every Monday, the lender would assure us we would close by Friday, but after the third week of this routine, we realized they would tell us anything to keep us pacified. By that time, our apartment had been rented to someone else, and we had to move out.

Because we had been led to believe closing was just around the corner, we opted to stay in a hotel (signing a month-to-month apartment lease would have been pricey). Our belongings were moved into storage and we settled into our hotel room for what we thought would be a three night stay. Four weeks and an astronomical hotel bill later, we have finally closed on our condo.

The Hubs and I picked up the condo keys on Friday night and moved in over the weekend. Actually, “moved in” isn’t a very accurate description of what we accomplished. We carried our bed, TV, and two patio chairs from the garage into the house and brought our suitcases over from the hotel. We’ll get to the rest eventually.

So that’s been my life the past few months. I tried several times to blog, but everything I wrote was dark, angry and just generally depressing. And nobody wants to read posts by a pissed off and brooding 20-something homeless woman who complains about living in a hotel room that hasn’t been cleaned in a week because she’s paranoid that housekeeping will let her cat out and who eats McDonald’s every night because the hotel amenities don’t include refrigerators or microwaves and the cheese that has been sitting on top of the air conditioner to chill for the past week can’t be trusted. Believe me, I did you a favor by not blogging throughout this fiasco.

I’ve got a lot of catching up to do now and can’t wait to get settled in so I can start posting on the regular again. We’ve already begun some condo renovations and I’ll be blogging about that while I get geared up for SF 2012, which is happening in October (teaser alert)! To show my thanks for your loyalty these past few months, and to compensate for the lack of photo imagery on this post, here’s a song I’m currently digging. The new Fiona Apple album is killer, seriously. Go buy it. If you don’t care for her music (blasphemy!) then just buy it because Fiona can pull off an octopus hat better than anyone you know. Okay byeee!

Yarn Bomb

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I hope I’m not the last yarn enthusiast in this country to discover yarn bombing. I mean, I’ve seen photos of yarn bombs online, but I never realized that they are actually a “thing” now.

No, not quite.

To quote the always credible Wikipedia, yarn bombing is “a type of graffiti or street art that employs colorful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn or fibre rather than paint or chalk.” It’s like what Banksy does, only with yarn instead of spray paint. Sort of.

Banksy

Muthatruckin’ yarn bomb y’all

I was intrigued by the yarn bombs I saw online and had so many questions… Who was making them? Why did they make them? Did they get in trouble? What’s the deal with airplane food? Again, Wikipedia cleared up some of my confusion.

“While yarn installations – called yarn bombs or yarnstorms – may last for years, they are considered non-permanent, and, unlike other forms of graffiti, can be easily removed if necessary. Nonetheless, the practice is still technically illegal, though it is not often prosecuted vigorously. While other forms of graffiti may be expressive, decorative, territorial, socio-political commentary, advertising or vandalism, yarn bombing was initially almost exclusively about reclaiming and personalizing sterile or cold public places.”

What’s most fascinating to me is that while yarn bombing is a form of graffiti, unlike spray paint tags, it’s not destructive in any way. The practice is all about creation and expression without damage or destruction. I can respect that. And I’m sure members of the communities do too, which can rouse support for local beautification projects. It’s a win-win.

I’m also in love with the fact that yarn bombing takes an art form traditionally dominated by men (street art) and feminizes it. Knitting and crocheting continues to be considered a woman’s craft, but yarn bombing has injected the masculine graffiti culture with this feminine medium. That, to me, is fantastic. And calling yarn bombs a form of street art also helps stitchers shed the incessant “crafter” label, raising our medium to a higher level where we can identify as real artists.

I found this video that profiles a “rogue knitter” as part of series on American Hipsters (I know, I know). I love seeing the process in action and the public react to an installation. Photos simply can’t encapsulate the energy surrounding a yarn bomb the way a video does.

By the way, her super-fast knitting machine is really flippin’ cool. I saw one at the craft store last week and was briefly tempted to check the price tag. Then I remembered I live in a 700 square foot apartment with a husband and a cat and too much stuff, and my hopes were swiftly dashed. For now I’ll leave yarn bombing to the pros with super-fast knitting machines and a sneaking urge to leave the world in stitches (Yes, I’m ending this post with a pun. Deal with it.).

Lazy Sunday

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Wow, what a mess the past couple of weeks have been! Aside from work being extra stressful lately, I’ve been dealing with a sick kitty, who has taken to eating bits of carpet off the floor then throwing them up all over my apartment. It’s delightful. And the Hubs has been working 14 hour days this summer, so our stresses seem to feed off one another and we’re both feeling pretty maxed out.

Weeks like this always end with weekends spent on the couch watching horror movies on Netflix with my current crochet project in hand. This weekend was no exception, even with the weather being perfect for a visit to Newport Beach. Sometimes I feel like I’m not taking advantage of all California has to offer, but then again, it’s ridiculous how much joy I find in lazing around in my pajamas all day.

As for my current crochet project, here it is. Of course Rudy couldn’t resist attacking my yarn as soon as it hit the floor.

It’s not quite ready to reveal yet, but I have to rave about this yarn! It’s Lion Brand Homespun in Corinthian and the colors are amazing. I usually get bored quickly with larger projects like this where the same stitch is repeated over and over, but these colors are so gorgeous, I’m still excited to pick up my hook and stitch away.

I had hoped to have this project completed by now, but I’ve been too exhausted to crochet after work. And with Rudy not feeling so great, he’s been attached at my hip, which makes stitching extra difficult!

Here’s to a stress-free weekend spent in pajamas!

Crochet Mania

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Lately, I have been crocheting like crazy. Everything from hats and booties to bags and scarves. It’s become an obsession of sorts. It eats up all my spare time and has turned me into a yarn hoarder. In a 700 sqft. apartment, this is not something that can go unnoticed for long.

The shame of it all.

This weekend, I finished up a few projects and have been anxious to get to the yarn store for some inspiration. I’m thinking I’d like to try my hand at crocheted jewelry or maybe a big project like a blanket or a sweater. I have a lot of ideas but not a lot of free time while working 40+ hours a week, so I tend to be selective.

On a happy note, I finished my first purse this weekend! I even wore it out to Home Depot (I live a glamorous life, folks). I used cotton yarn for the first time and fell in love with it. It’s so wonderfully smooth and easy to stitch, without all those wispy fuzzies that come with a wool or acrylic.

Camera phone quality colors.

I wanted my purse to be summer-y and casual, so I went with aqua and cream yarn and a natural bamboo handle. I really didn’t know what kind of pattern to incorporate, but as I got going, I decided on bold, nautical stripes. I’m pretty sure it screams “beach.”

After I completed my purse and hung it up to admire, I realized it was missing something. Flowers? No, too fussy for a casual beach bag. Ribbon? Too girlie for nautical stripes. Buttons? Ding ding ding! We have a winner. As luck would have it, I just bought a big bag of assorted buttons during my last yarn store outing and they coordinated nicely with my yarn. I stitched a few buttons on and boom! My purse was finished.

Camera phone quality sharpness.

Adorable, no? I can’t wait to make a dozen more of these!

Montanan Exceptionalism

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Post Two!!! I’m on a roll! Actually, this little gem was just too good not to share. Colin Meloy, member of the band The Decemberists, spoke at Helena High School’s graduation ceremony this year. After pulling up his Montanan roots and traveling the world, Colin realized just how exceptional Montanans truly are. His words spoke right to me, as a fellow uprooted Montanan. Colin seemed to put into words exactly how I feel about Montana and he is most eloquent in explaining the overwhelming pride we all share in our birthplace.

For your enjoyment, here are the passages I found most relatable. For the full speech, click here.

“And once you start doing that, moving farther and farther into the pale of your comfort, beyond the boundaries of your home, you engage with people of all stripes. You work with them; you interact with them. You befriend them, you fight with them. And you get a real sense of how everyone’s worldviews are necessarily shaped by the place where they are from. And I’m here, standing in front of you, to tell you that, having traveled the world, having met jerks and sweethearts, famous people, invisible people, stupidly wealthy people and destitutely poor people: There is absolutely no-one in the world like Montanans. You guys are the cream of the crop. And I say that with a great deal of pride.”

“I have since been to those places, I’ve since met the people who live in those places; and I always come away with an increased appreciation and respect for the state of Montana and those who were born here or choose to live here and assimilate.”

“Each one of you has a kernel of that one-of-a-kind Montana-ness inside you. And I’m telling you now, it needs to be taken out into the world and thrown around.”

And the best part…

“The world beyond these mountains is a lesser world; it rests on you to make it better.”

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