Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Learning to S-P-E-L-L

Our little boy is loving his letters!


Saturday, February 19, 2011

An Outside Sort of Day

It was warm enough to go outside! In the middle of February! We took a walk in the morning...
Followed by a walk to the park in the afternoon. Note that the pond is still frozen over but TJ is in shorts and a t-shirt. Crazy.
Finally, Topher tried his footie pj's from his mar-mar and thought it was funny that both he and Curious George had monkey feet. :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Mom's Hat

My most recent knitting project was a hat for my mom. She requested a "black hat with an aqua flower." (My family is very particular about the colors they want, in case you hadn't noticed.) I honest-to-goodness wanted to knit this hat in the round and I gave it a valiant effort. But it fell very flat. I'm going to need a formal class to learn how to do that. So I'm still limited to knitting things flat. Bummer. I did a lot of things differently from the first hat I tried. First of all, I divided the yarn into two balls and used a double yarn throughout my work so the hat would be nice and warm. (Actually the hat is quite heavy now!) Secondly, I tried a new stitch called a "seed stitch" because it makes lots of little "seeds" in the fabric that I think look interesting. Lastly, I found a pattern for a flower that I really liked, and attached it with a button. I didn't have a specific pattern for the hat (okay, I didn't even have a scrap of a pattern), so once again I was just kind of winging it, but it actually turned out okay! It almost has a Mary Englebright look to it. I was able to nab a picture of my favorite little model wearing it for me. He must really love me. Mom, I hope you like it! I wove a LOT of love into it for you. You're the best. :)
P.S. Aby, I'm working on your "black and white fingerless gloves", but my first attempt is a bit of a dud I'm afraid. And unless your hands are enormous (which I know they are not) they are just not snug enough. Plus they are not as interesting as I envisioned. Back to the drawing board, my knitting friends.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Katie's Scarf

My sister-in-law is an extremely lovable person. She's hilarious and bright. She's resourceful and surprisingly tough. She's gorgeous, too, on top of all of it. So when she said she wanted a sea-blue scarf, I knew it would have to be something special. (Spoiler alert, Katie, if you don't want to see your scarf yet, do NOT read on!) What's funny is that all you need are two sticks and a ball of yarn. It's archaic, really, this new hobby of mine. I might as well be Mrs. Flintstone and knit up a neck warmer for the family dinosaur. And yet I love it. The pattern I chose was a new one for me. It was impossible for me to memorize, so I made myself a set of flash cards that haven't left my sight for this entire week. It starts innocently enough. One little row of cast-on knots. I knitted a border and then the main pattern (it is an 8-row pattern, hence my 8 flash cards) four times before stopping to evaluate it. It was around this very point that I wasn't sure if I liked the pattern. At all. It looked like granny's potholder. I forged on, however, because once you're invested in a project, it's hard to quit. Luckily, by the time the week was over and the scarf was done, I had fallen in love with it. It really helps to know who you are making your scarf for. That way, with each stitch you can think about all the reasons you love them and how glad you are that they are in your life. Otherwise, when you realize (for the umpteenth time) that you messed up 8 rows ago and have to pull it all out, you might get a little frustrated.
Katie, I hope you like it. I chose a diamond pattern because we both know that diamonds are a girl's best friend. :) I can't wait to give it to you in person in a couple of weeks!

Master Bathroom Makeover

When we first bought this townhome, there was only one room I really hated. Our bathroom. I was so excited to have a bathroom connected to my bedroom, but it was ugly. Not only were the walls an offensive green, but they were poorly painted. Oh, and before it was green you could tell it had been poorly painted red. It was like a Christmas nightmare. It's called painter's tape. Use it. I think we just stepped backstage into a local theater's dressing room. Plastic curtain rod with rust marks, plastic curtain rings. Oak cabinet with no hardware. Gag. Above the toilet, a glass shelf and a cheap chrome shelf. We tried to live with it but enough was enough. Also note the oversized mirror. All builder's grade.
A whole lot of ugliness in one picture.
This is what we had to work with.
You might think, it's just a bathroom. But it's not. I retreat to this room every single night to soak in a scalding bath and forget the world. Before the makeover, all I could concentrate on was the sloppy green paint slapped over the sloppy red paint. And now...
Our hotel bathroom. Small but elegant. The walls and ceiling are cream (after a hefty dose of primer.)
Ikea helped us choose a soothing print.
That's a metal curtain rod with sliding curtain rings and a spa curtain. Just the way it should be.
A real medicine cabinet in place of the glass and chrome. If you'll remember, this cabinet was so ugly but only $5 on Craigslist. I spruced it up.
We replaced the mirror and added a towel holder.
We replaced those hideous lights. We painted the bathroom trim white (and we used painter's tape.)
This Ikea find gives us a little dose of Restoration Hardware. I love it.
Finally, a creamy rug from Ikea contrasts nicely with the newly painted vanity. Heaven.
When I am taking a bath now, I feel like I'm in an old restored hotel. Most of the makeover came from Craigslist or clearance racks or a bucket of paint, but it feels rich and calming and beautiful. It's a tiny room, but I think it's my favorite one now.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Minne-vacation in Minneapolis

Like I mentioned before, TJ and I had a chance to get away for 2 nights to Minneapolis this past weekend. It was our "Valentine's getaway" and the whole point was to be spontaneous and to try new things and to have fun. Done, done, and done.
Friday night we ate at Chevy's and got the exact same booth we had two years ago when we tried to take Topher to the Mall of America (big mistake). That night we sat in the hot tub and relished an uninterrupted night of sleep ahead. It was even better than our imaginations could dream. It was so luxurious. It is the single most obvious change of lifestyle since having our son (not sleeping anymore) and it was amazing to remember again how it feels to sleep through all the unholy hours of the night.
Saturday morning was exciting. We had a whole unplanned day stretching out in front of us. We knew we wanted to go to Ikea, but had no other plans. So we headed to Ikea.
We were there all morning, roaming the store, absorbing the Swedish design and dreaming of decorating our next home. At lunchtime, we decided to try the Ikea cafeteria (we had heard good things about those Swedish meatballs) and ended up with way too much food. It was all delicious (and cheap!!)
After about 6 hours at Ikea, we bought all the things we wanted (well, not all, not by a long shot--I literally wanted EVERYTHING) and stuffed it all in the car somehow.
From there, we decided to wander the Mall of America for a couple hours until dinner. By that time, we had been on our feet for 9 or 10 hours and we couldn't wait to sit down for awhile. We didn't want to eat in the Mall and we aren't familiar with Minneapolis cuisine, so we turned to the phone. One of our apps will use GPS to find out where you are, lists all the restaurants in a wide vicinity, and then will spin a jackpot-style screen and pick one for you at random. So that's what we did. We let our phone (and the universe) tell us where we were supposed to eat that night. Here's what it said:
Hell's Kitchen it was. So we headed into downtown Minneapolis and miraculously found this odd restaurant. We kind of thought it might have some affiliation with the TV show of the same name. Here we are in the car, having our adventure:
Well, it did NOT have any affiliation with the TV show. It was an actual hell-themed restaurant. So we ate in hell, weird Gothic art, red walls and all. Did you know they serve breakfast all day in hell? That's how TJ came to eat a Belgian waffle with mixed berries on top. And when I saw that they had a sandwich voted one of the best in the country (ham & pear crisp), I had to try it.
I loved this chandelier that greeted us as we descended down the staircase into hell. Those are assorted butcher knives. Good sign, right?
Some of the strange art. Inside the bathroom were pictures of ghouls whose eyes followed you as you moved. Classic.
I'm happy to say that we escaped hell as easily as we entered. The next morning we packed up and headed home to our little boy (who was GREAT for grandma & grandpa and flew into my arms like a linebacker when we walked in). We couldn't wait to show him some of our Ikea purchases.
His room now boasts a new nightstand and lamp.
This lamp is awesome when lit and looks like either an alien or a sea creature.
He also got new bedding and a new area rug. He was very excited about all of it.
For our room we purchased this series of Picasso line drawings. We still need to hang it, but you know we had to have it, being the animal lovers we are.
It was an amazing weekend full of memories and fun. I am so in love with the man I married, and I am so grateful that he is who he is. There is no one else for me. Happy Valentine's Day, baby.