Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Greetings from Las Vegas Airport...

I'm getting really bad at this. I need to make an April 1st resolution to update my blog 3 times a week (if I make it on April 1st does it mean I can consider it a joke and break it?). Please forgive me any grammatical errors (or any that are more than usual), any incoherent sentences (again more than usual), any bad jokes (again...) and clearly an excessive use of parentheses. I am currently sitting in the Las Vegas airport waiting for my flight that takes off 3 hours from now (I've already killed an hour) so I can take the Red Eye home. Normally, this wouldn't be an issue but I tried very hard to stay on East Coast time for this trip and so I feel like it's midnight, not 9pm. My flight leaves at 11:50pmPST, which means 2:50amEST. Anyone who knows me knows that when I'm tired I just crash... so let's hope that I don't fall asleep and miss my flight!

I wanted to share this fabulous blog with all of you called Operation NICE. Melissa, the blogger fabulouso (yeah I make up words in foreign languages when I'm exhausted), believes that kindness can change the world and documents nice things all around her. What a freakin great idea. Who doesn't need to be reminded that we should focus on all the good things that happen? And with that... here are nice things that happened to me this trip...

- The flight attendant went out of her way to tell me she liked my outfit (now only if I could remember what I wearing so I could pull it off again!) on my flight out here.
- The check-in attendant at the airport let me check my bags early (like 4 hours early) so I didn't have to hang around with them.
- The Audio Visual Technician gave me a par can light free of charge on the show floor (unless you are familiar with tradeshows you probably don't understand the magnitude... but this is a REALLY nice thing to do!).
- My client left me a very nice phone call after the first day of the tradeshow was over to thank me. Ever notice how being thanked for the simplest thing (like doing your job) makes you feel so good?

I'm sure people did many more nice things that I was too busy to notice. So I'm going to try very hard to be aware of those who do nice things and try to do more nice things in return.

Trying hard to stay awake for the next 3 hours... Please let me know of any nice stories you have to share!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Something Lovely for the Warmer Months...

In case you haven't yet picked up on it, I'm in love with the idea of an "Outdoor Living Area". My ideal OLA would be where the living room (or kitchen or bedroom) open up into a beautiful flagstone veranda lined with lush foliage, oversized chairs, benches, cushions and the like for lounging, and a mismatched iron table for brunches and late night dinners and of course there would be a chandelier hanging over head (probably from a perfectly positioned 100 year old tree). You wouldn't know where the house ended and the OLA started... it would be heaven.

This works very well and is very plausible if you fulfill the following criteria:
1. It doesn't snow between the months of October and May (I live in New England, it does).
2. You do not have any mosquitos, black flies, gnats or any other undesirable arthropods. (We do. My quest to bring my OLA inside my apartment with potted plants led to an infestation of gnats).
3. You have plenty of room for OLA. (Currently I live in an apartment with windows that barely open... yet still the gnats found their way in).
4. You can curl up with a book and not realize the day has passed, you have friends who have no problem lounging around eating brunch for hours and those same friends can transition easily into rousing board/card games in the afternoon. (Finally this I have!)

So my dreams for an OLA will remain dreams until we find the perfect house (and I'll just have to make do with the climate!)

In the meantime, here are some OLAs to drool over (all from Dominomag.com)...
What would your dream outdoor living area be like?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Something Lovely to Read...

During my busy tradeshow season I spend a lot of time reading in airports, planes and hotels. I usually pack 3-4 books with me depending on the trip. I've read a couple good ones this year that I figured I'd share. I'm not great at writing about books, so forgive me if my entries or thoughts sound weak!

Also, let me know if you have any good suggestions. I'm an avid Amazon.com stalker and in desperate need of some new reads!

1. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
I actually started this one in December and had a hard time getting into it. My mom said it was one of her favorite, so maybe I need to read it again all at once instead of in bits and pieces.

2. The Stranger by Albert Camus
This was a fun one to read. I (unknowingly) got an edition that was translated into American English instead of British English from French. The story line is simple enough that it was fun to read into the different nuances of the phrases and see how they could have been spun differently in a different translation.

3. American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
Definitely a fun and easy book to read. I had never really thought about what a person's life must be like if they are married to a politician but have no desire to be there. It's based loosely on Laura Bush, so I wonder how much of it is even remotely true!

4. Eva Luna by Isabelle Allende
I love love love her books and this one was no exception! That's all I have to say about that...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Something Lovely For My Eyes (Sunday Edition)...

Photos from the week that made me happy! The quote is hard to read but it says "Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life." - Omar Khayyam.

Enjoy your Sunday!
1. Happiness is a warm puppy, 2. communal, 3. quote of the week, 4. for my sister...

Friday, March 20, 2009

So Sorry...

I've been slacking yet again! It's awful when work is so busy that you can't even blog during your lunch break!

I hope everyone had a wonderful week and enjoyed the first day of Spring (unless of course you were in NYC and then you had snow)!! My boss kindly let us out at 3:30p and I spent a fabulous afternoon shopping around at Craft stores with a friend.

I was hoping that by today I would have a wonderful letterpress and letterpress invitations to show you. At the end of January I got this idea that I was going to letterpress my own wedding invitations and found these instructions online. It took a couple of weeks, but we actually made it and I remembered to take very specific photos the entire time! We bought the ink, the plates with our invitation info and invitation paper. I was all set and had dreams of the fabulous invitations I was about to print..... and the press broke. The 2x4s on top split the moment I put any amount of pressure on the bottom plate. I tried some other options, but it kept cracking (along with dreams of my letterpress invitations!).

So if you want to give it a go, I'll send over the photos. But most unfortunately don't have anything pretty to show you! However it is Friday so enjoy this adorable Spring Cupcake!

1. aaron and angels wedding cake, spring cupcakes!

PS- I want to give a special "Rock On!" to my little bro Sammy (11 years old) who is in his first school talent show jamming to his own medley on the bass! (He doesn't read this, but I want everyone to know how awesome he is!)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Awesome Signs of the Week

During my first trip to Vegas I made the mistake of telling my cab driver that it was my first time there. Well to clarify, she asked if it was my first time and I made the mistake of saying yes. The trip to my hotel (that was off the strip and easily accessible without even hitting Las Vegas Blvd) took three times as long, cost 4 times as much, but most fantastically took me right down the strip. I was awe-struck. I felt like I was on an huuuuge Cruise Ship or Movie Set!

We all know how I love bright, funky signs so this was like paradise. There were lights and signs everywhere. Some casinos were a little more "refined" and chose to advertise their property through extravagant buildings, statues, fountain displays. I'd count Mandalay Bay, Caesars Palace and Bellagio among those. Then there are the old school casinos that go for the bright, gaudy, absolutely fabulous signs: The Riviera, the Flamingo, and The Sahara among others. These are the signs that rely on lightbulbs and colors and the flash of Vegas from the 1940s and 50s (though not all the signs date from then). Love, love, love those.

So on my second trip to Vegas, I watched from my hotel as they took down the old Barbary Coast sign. They were fantastic 5' tall light bulb studded letters and I started wondering if it was possible to finagle the "R" to take home (it could look very cool in the corner of my apartment. Look at the photos below and you can see the letters in all their glory). When I gave up on that dream I started to wonder where all these signs went. It would be so sad if they were scrapped and that little part of tacky history was gone.

But luckily it's not so! Yes they are left to rot and disintegrate, but they get to do it all together at the Neon Boneyard. I'm hoping to go there during my next visit in a couple of weeks (I will actually have time to do touristy things!), because this place looks fantastic. They have used it as a backdrop for a lot of print ads as well as Wedding Photography (which would be awesome)!

1. Neon Sign Boneyard Las Vegas, 2. Neon Sign Boneyard Las Vegas, 3. Neon Sign Boneyard Las Vegas, 4. Neon Sign Boneyard Las Vegas, 5. Neon Sign Boneyard Las Vegas, 6. Neon Sign Boneyard Las Vegas

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Greetings from Windy Las Vegas...

Sorry I've been so delinquent in posts. Last week ended very busy and then I had to fly out to Vegas for work on Sunday. Ever since then... I've been working or sleeping (jet lag is a pain). Hopefully I'll have some time to post something fun and pretty this afternoon.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Something Lovely For My Eyes III...

The third installment in my favorite Flickr photographer series. Today is from *Cinnamon who has a gorgeous range of subjects from the seaside fence to the fantastic city balloons (I love balloons and photos of balloons)!1. The rest is shadows. The rest is secret., 2. In between, 3. To all, 4. Flickr celebrates 4 in the city, 5. a balloon affair, 6. heaven-ish, 7. she read every word, 8. The grounds at Point Montara Lighthouse

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Something Lovely For My Stuff...

It took me a little while to blog about this, in part because I've been trying to remember how I did it. This was another project form that Lazy President's Day Afternoon I had and because of that I forgot to take photos after I was halfway through and nothing was done with any sort of template. Welcome to my random way of crafting!
Step 1: You will need two fabrics: (1) for the outside (I suggest a heavy weight home decor type material) and (1) for the inside (mine is a lightweight cotton print). How much you will need of each depends on how big your bag is, how many pockets you have, etc.

Step 2: Figure out how big you want your shoulder bag to be. Mine needed to carry a laptop case, at least two notebooks (one for work, one that I carry for an ideas I have), a binder (again for work), and a variety of pens, markers, keys, wallets, phone, blackberry, internet stick, etc. I like to have a lot of stuff with me when I travel for whatever comes up so in a nutshell it had to be BIG! Yours may not need to be so big. Try measuring some of your favorite bags for their size.

Step 3: Place the two layers on top of each other wrong sides (non-printed sides) together. Cut from this a rectangle that will be the base of the bag. I believe mine was 13" long and 6" wide (again, I need to keep better notes!). Fold the pieces (still wrong-sides together) in half and then in half again. Cut the corners so that they are rounded (how round you want your bag to be is up to you). You can sort-of-kind-of see in the first picture how I rounded mine (the smaller pieces)

Step 4: Using a flexible tape measure (dressmakers measure) measure the circumference of your bag. Cut that number in half and add 2 inches to it. Again put your the wrong sides of your fabrics together and fold in half (you know have a stack of four layers of fabric- 2 of the outside and 2 of the inside). You want the width of the fabric to be at least that number you came up with and the length to be how high you want your bag to be + 1". So using my example above, let's say that my circumference was 38" and I want my bag to be 12" high. I want to make sure that that the piece of fabric is 21" (38" divided by 2 plus 2") and the height is 13". These extra 2" and 1" are for the seam allowance.

Step 5: Cut out your rectangle (21" x 13") from the four layers of fabric. These are the sides of your bag.

Step 6: Take the rectangles of the outside layer of fabric and pin wrong sides together. Sew the 13" side together with a .5" seam allowance (Photo 2). Do this with the other side as well (you now have a column of fabric). Press the seam open with your iron (Photo 3).

Step 7. Stitch the pressed fabric 1/4" to each side of the side seams (Photo 4).

Step 8: Pin the bottom piece of the outside fabric to the sides (Photo 5 and 6). Stitch this together with the sides making sure to ease around the curves. Clip the fabric at the corner of the curves to just before the thread.

Step 9: Now I forgot to keep taking photos. if you want to put an outside pocket on now is the time to do so. I cut two matching rectangles of fabric from an outside and inside layer (about 5" x 8"). Sew the wrong sides together all the way around except for 2" at the end. Pull the fabric through the hole so the right side is out. Press the rectangle so it lies flat. Measure the center of a side wall and sew the pocket on. I like the paisley print showing out so I didn't fold the sides under.

Step 10: Do the same with the Inside fabric including the pocket (or multiple pockets) if you like. I put my inside pocket on the opposite side of the bag as the outside

Step 11: Now here's the part I wish I had a photo for because it took me forever to figure out. Turn both "bags" of the inside and outside fabric inside out (wrong side facing out). Pin the openings of the bags together so the right sides of the edge of the opening are together and the selvage (thready part of the fabric) are sticking out. Now sew around the outside edge leaving 2" open.

Step 12: Pull the fabric through the opening so that it's rightside out. Handstitch the opening shut and push the Inside fabric into the bag. You're almost there!

Step 13: Now it's time to make the straps. First you have to determine how long you want the straps to be off the bag. Again, I suggest you measure a bag you like from the top of the bag over to where it meets the bag again. Make sure that you take into account how large your pocket is because the straps will fall on either side of it.

Here's a little formula: (2 x length of the strap) + (4 x the finished height of your bag) + (2 x the width of the bottom of your bag) + 4". The 4" covers the seam allowance and also because my straps came up a little short.

Step 14: Cut 1 strap from each fabric the length that you've determined up there and 4" wide. Wrong sides together pin and stitch 1/2" from the edge all the way around leaving a 2" opening. Pull the strap right side out through opening and hand stitch that close.

Step 15: With the outside fabric facing, sew the ends together. Lay the strap flat (so it looks like a straight line, not a circle) and fold in half. Place a pin in each side of the strap at the fold. Now, fold the bottom of the bag in half lengthwide. Match the pins with the center fold on the bottom so that when pulled up the straps will fall on either side of the pocket and pin.

Step 16: Sew 1/4" from the edge of the strap all the way around, continuing past the bag and down again. I liked that this bound the outside and inside of the bags together, but if you don't like that you can sew the straps onto the outside of the bag before you attach the inside lining.

Step 17: Sew a button hole and a button and you're done!

Phew, that was long winded. I promise it's an easy sew once you figure out what you're doing. I'll try to post a better picture of the final product later!

Good luck!

Something Lovely For My Eyes II...

The next installment in my favorite Flickr photographers is from cannelle et vanille. Not only does she have a blog that gives the recipes and stories for all these delectable photos, she has a gorgeous photostream over at Flickr with food shots, botanical shots and more! The food is so gorgeous and mouth watering though that I felt they needed their own showcase.
1. dirty dishes, 2. strawberry sorbet, 3. chocolate buttermilk cupcakes, 4. meyer lemons, coconut and white chocolate, 5. pistachio galette des rois, 6. more kumquats, 7. candied orange, 8. pumpkin and gingerbread ice cream sandwiches

Monday, March 2, 2009

Something Lovely For My Eyes...

I've recently become a huge fan of Flickr (home to all the lovely cupcakes and retro signs) and finally realized that I can get my favorite photographers brought to me daily through my Google Blog Reader!

So many are so simple, lovely and happy that it just makes my day! In honor of realizing I can get blog updates on them and that I learned how to use the Mosaic Maker last week. I'll be featuring some of my favorite photographers from Flickr. Make sure to visit their Flickr pages and see all the fabulous offerings!

First up: The beautiful eyes of i.anton...
1. i wish we were, 2. Hours fly, Flowers die, New days, New ways, Pass by, Love stays, 3. Untitled, 4. Oh Bokeh! Oh Joy!, 5. Jaipur mint, 6. Untitled, 7. winter's tale, 8. well, maybe dreams do come true!......