Thursday, September 29, 2011

Semi-Annual Craft Night

This Saturday night is the Harrell Family Semi-Annual Craft Night.  It happens every April and October and happens to coincide with this other event.  In the spring we made some fun bottlecap magnets and last year we worked on crafts for my wedding.  For some reason or another I'm the one that is assigned to finding the craft project to do, and this year I'm thinking wreaths.  But I like them all and can't decide which one to do.

First up, the Acorn Wreath (tutorial found here).  I love the color of this wreath, I love how perfect it looks.  I love the wide ribbon.  I can't think of anything I don't like! The first problem is where to find acorns.  The second is that it is very time consuming, not a one evening kind of project.

Next, the felt flower wreath. (Found here.) The color is perfect for the autumn.  I love how it looks, I like the idea of the felt flowers.  But again, it might be more than a one evening kind of project.  

Third, another more than one evening project.  Maybe I'm not being very creative, but I do like the dark pink.  Maybe I'll save this one for Valentine's Day.  Maybe it's the color and the gauzy ribbon, but it's a little romantic.  This year I left my red Christmas Wreath on the door until spring, so I definitely need something for Valentine's Day. (Found here.)

This is my favorite of all the wreaths.  It's the Split Pea wreath!  It looks SO EASY to make, and I love the texture.  I want to make them small and hang them in my windows like in the tutorial, but I have no idea which windows.  I love the color, but it doesn't exactly say fall, does it?  My sister suggested spray painting it, and I like that idea too.  Maybe if I spray painted it black it would be a good Halloween wreath?  Add some orange or yellow felt flowers?  Hmmm.  This is a top contender, but maybe too messy for a quick evening project.   (Found here.)

I think this pumpkin colored yarn wreath is the winner.  Winding yarn around a wreath would be easy enough to do while sitting around and talking, and I think it's quick enough for one evening.  I love the felt flowers and the small branches.  I want to make those felt flowers and put them on headbands and bags too.  (Found here.)

Most of the wreaths were found on my new favorite blog, Little Things Bring Smiles.  I want to make all of Katie's projects!  I love blogs that inspire me, and this one is definitely working.  

So, what do you think?  Which one would you do?  Do you have a favorite fall craft?  Or a favorite craft website?  I need some Halloween or indoor fall decor ideas too.  Where do you get inspiration for home decor?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

North Carolina

I love to travel.  I love visiting new cities and learning how they work.  I love shopping in new cities and visiting restaurants.  I love maps and travel technology.  I love apps that help me find a place to eat.  I love using technology to find my favorite store in a new city.  And this is a love that Shawn and I share, we both love to travel.  We love to visit new countries and learn about new cultures.  But something changed in my love of travel when I began to love Shawn.  I know that they say that love can grow, but in some ways loving Shawn made me love travel less.  The problem is that now when I do travel I want to travel WITH Shawn.  I want to share new cities and new experiences with him.

I was in North Carolina for work last week.  Try as I might to convince Shawn to take a week off of work  and come to North Carolina with me, the romance of sitting in a hotel for a week by himself while I worked didn't convince him to join me.  Nor did the awesome hotel with an indoor waterpark.  And the week I spent in North Carolina was one of the longest weeks of my life.  It had nothing to do with the meeting I attended, or the person I traveled with, or the appointments I had.  It had everything to do with being away from Shawn.  I wanted to be able to share everything with him.  I wanted to sit at the table at night with him and tell him about my day.  I wanted to hold his hand while I fell asleep.  I wanted him with me to laugh at the strange pictures on the walls of the hotel.  I wanted to explore with him.  

But while I hate traveling without him, I love that we live when we do and have the technology available to us.  I can take pictures and immediately send them to him.  I can text him or email him about things that make me laugh.  I can call him at night easily.  And the best invention we found this week was face time from Apple.  When I travel for work I can take an iPad with me and I LOVE using facetime to chat with Shawn at home with our MacBook.  I loved being able to show him my hotel room. I loved seeing his face.  And that's what made this week bearable.  

Highlights of the week:

1) Staying at the Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, North Carolina.  It felt like a strange place for a meeting since they really cater to families, but the staff was amazing and the meeting went really well.  The water park looked like a lot of fun, and I would definitely stay there again.  And the little kid inside of me really wanted to go buy a magic wand and participate in their Magic Quest.  

2) My travel companion would not agree with me, but I loved our second hotel too, the Blake Hotel in Charlotte, NC.  I thought the lobby was swanky and loved my room and the view of the city.  I didn't like that it didn't have a gym but you had to go across the street to work out (which I didn't do).  The staff was also really amazing and friendly.  Is that a North Carolina thing?

3) The three hour drive each way from Charlotte to Raleigh.  OK, driving for 8 hours in a car with a colleague in one day isn't exactly what I would call fun, but I loved seeing the drive from Charlotte to Raleigh.  We didn't take the main interstate, but our Garmin sent us a less direct way that took the same amount of town.  We drove through the town Pittsboro, and I fell in love with it.  I want to go back and stop in this town!

Next time I'm in North Carolina I'm taking Shawn with me.  And I'm glad the next trip I have planned is a trip with Shawn to DISNEYLAND!


All over the World Wide Web I've seen people rejoicing that it's fall.  And I've been in denial.  They've been enjoying fall colors and fall sweaters, decorating their houses for fall.  And in my mind it is still summer.  I love summer, I love the long warm days and my husband being home all day.  But the reality is that Shawn has been teaching for over a month and the mornings are dark when we leave the house, and the hot days aren't so hot anymore.  But I have still clinged on to the thoughts that it is still summer!  I used to rejoice at the Autumnal Equinox, but this year I was in North Carolina and decided to completely ignore it.  But then on Monday Shawn and I went out to pick our pears, the seven pears on our pear tree that has struggled to live.  And on the ground there were leaves!  Only four or five, but leaves nonetheless.  Fall is here my friends.  And while I love fall, this year I am not ready for it.  I don't want summer to end.  Because after fall comes that other season, the season I dread the most, the season of snow.  I like watching snow fall.  I don't mind it being in my yard.  I even tolerate having to shovel it.  But the thing I dread most about snow, driving in it.  I hate, loathe, despise driving in snow.  So, can we just keep summer here a little longer?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It's That Time of Year Again!

Dear Blog,

Can I tell you why I'm excited that it's September?  Not because of football like so many other people, but because of fall television! My favorite shows are coming back!  No more repeats, no more going to Tivo and wondering if it recorded anything good, but new television!  Here are the shows I'm most looking forward to:

America's Next Top Model

Ok, so this is my guilty pleasure of a reality show.  I don't really like the fighting or even the judging.  OK, why do I watch this show again?  Oh yeah, I really watch it for the photo shoot costumes.  That Tyra, she's creative.  (Speaking of ANTM, my Tivo is recording it RIGHT NOW!)

Biggest Loser

I love the Biggest Loser because it both makes me feel inspired and guilty all at the same time.  Inspired because hello, the contestants work so hard and really overcome a lot.  Guilty because I'm sitting on the couch eating and not getting up and going to the gym.  I like this because for a reality show it's not as manipulative and conspiring as a lot of competitive shows can be, it really depends on the contestants.  Some seasons the contestants have been manipulative and formed alliances, but sometimes they don't they're all there to lose weight and have a better life.

The Vampire Diaries

OK, another guilty pleasure.  This is one Shawn got me in to.  I've never really been a fan of vampires, and certainly not that other vampire book/movie series, but I'm hooked on Vampire Diaries.  Shawn doesn't watch a lot of TV, so this was a way to watch something together.  I really like the story lines, I find them intriguing.  Plus, Damon played Boone on Lost, but it took me halfway into Season 2 to figure it out.  I'm automatically a fan of anyone who was on Lost.

How I Met Your Mother

I love this show and I owe it all to Laura.  I didn't start watching HIMYM until the end of the third season when I moved in with Laura.  And from that moment on I was hooked.  It's funny, and it's even funnier when you've watch for a bit and start catching on to the repeat jokes.  Like Slap Bet.  Or the Intervention.  Plus, I would totally marry Tedd.  (Um, can I say that now that I'm married?  He's a fictional character, nothing to worry about Shawn!)  And Marshall and Lily?  Cutest couple on TV.  And though Barney is disgusting, part of me wishes he would be my friend.  

The Amazing Race

Now my all-time favorite television show, The Amazing Race!  I have watched this show from the first season and I LOVE IT!  They contestants get to travel the world, they get to do cool challenges like eating strange food or rolling cheese down hills.  This is the only reality show I would ever consider applying for.  And like The Biggest Loser there is rarely any malicious strategy or alliances.  It's the people who are nice to each other that do well in this race, the mean people rarely get to the end.  I love this show, and I want Phil's job.

So, Blog, what about you?  What are your favorite shows?  What reality show would you do? Are you an HIMYM fan too?  

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Peach Pie

I ate two pieces of pie for dinner tonight, and I don't regret it.  
Do you want to see photos of my pies?  

Now, I'm not a photographer with a fancy camera, and the first two photos were taken with Shawn's phone, so the quality isn't great, but here are the pies!

The first pie is ready to go in the oven!  
I have such hope and am unaware of my sad mistakes.

The first pie is done!  See that crust?  
Well, it's luckily still yummy, but wasn't as fabulous as I was hoping it would be.

The second pie.  
See how the crust isn't overdone?  See how the filling actually fills the pie?  
See all that creme fraiche?  And the streusel?  

We haven't eaten it yet, but I can't wait!  We want to be kind and share our creation, but the real question is, who do we share such a perfect (looking) pie with?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Domesticated Pie Maker

Well Blog, today I made pie.  I made some pumpkin pie around Christmas time for something or other and mentioned that I needed pie weights, so Shawn, being the awesome listener that he is, bought me pie weights for Christmas.  And proceeded to not do anything with them for months, despite Shawn gently hinting ove and over that he wanted me to make pie.  I like to bake, you see.  He cooks too, but I love to bake and when I cook, I want to cook big things.  So, my friend and former roommate, Laura posted a pie she had made on facebook complete with the recipe.  And I remember that pie.  I have very fond memories of eating that pie.  And while my baking/cooking skills are no where near Laura's I decided to be brave and adventurous and make a pie.  A Peach Pie.

Before I could be adventurous and make the peach pie I had to make creme fraiche.  Now, that's adventurous too.  Who lets dairy products intentionally sit on the counter for 24 hours?  Then, I had to make streusel.  That turned out to be harder than the creme fraiche.  (Just because I over mixed it the first time and it turned into more of a dough than a streusel.)  And I had to par bake the crust. (I'm so glad I know that term now, I like throwing it out into conversation, like I'm some official pie maker or something.)  But eventually I got to put it all in the pie shell (including the peaches of course) and put it in the oven and bake it.

And it turns out I made a couple of mistakes.  Mistakes that I was warned about by the recipe maker.  I was warned not to use a deep dish pie plate.  So, I used the pie plate we got for our wedding.  Which it turns out was a deep dish pie plate.  So, the filling didn't quite . . . fill the pie.  And the second warning was that I might want to cover the endges of the crust with foil while it was baking so as to not burn them.  And I ignored that warning too, and since the pie wasn't full enough and the crust was burning, there was a lot of crust to burn.  Oh well, it still tasted great!  And the bonus mistake was that I had too many peaches, so tonight I went out, got me a shallow pie plate and made a second peach pie.  And yes, I covered my crust too.  I got to par bake again and to make streusel again.  It was fun.  Again.  But here's my question, how are two people going to eat TWO PIES?  We'll need help.  Any volunteers?

Oh, and PS, making pie just remind me of the Pie Maker.  Remember that show?  Did you love it too?
Dear Blog,

I know, it's been a while.  How have you been?  Have you missed me?  I've missed you.  I've thought about you a lot too.  The truth is, I'm a little intimidated by you.  I wan to write wonderful posts, but I get scared that I'm not up to wonderful posts.  I was hoping to make this a place full of brilliant thought and reflection about what it means to get married, to join your life with another's.  But I haven't known exactly how to put into words everything that I'm feeling.

Shawn and I, we've been married nine months now.  Can you believe it?  I can't!  I am still giddy just looking at my ring and thinking he's mine now.  And a lot has happened in those nine months.  And I've wanted a place to record all those things that have happened, like the time our house got invaded by may flies, or the time we made pickles and I sliced my fingers open.  I wanted to share those things with you dear blog.  But then I thought, you don't want to hear about those boring parts of life.  You want great thoughts, introspection.  Well, Blog.  I think you DO want to hear those things, and maybe sharing those things will bring about some of the introspection too.  And I want a place to look back on my first year(s) of marriage and remember what it was like to be a newlywed.

So, what do you think Blog?  I promise to visit you more often, and you put up with my self-indulgent posts about making raspberry jam and trips to Wyoming.  OK?  Is it a deal?


Love you, and see you more often.