Friday, October 17, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

I've been trying to get the apartment packed up (just a couple of weeks left before the move), thinking about this year's Christmas cards (I need to start making them soon), flipping through decorating books (my copy of the new Domino book came in the mail today!), brainstorming possible handmade Christmas gifts (Aimee Ray's Doodle Stitching has some really cute ideas), and making travel plans for the holidays.

We found out that the apartment is going to be listed in the paper tomorrow (eek!), so we have to be ready to show it on short notice. Right now describing it as "messy" would be an understatement. It's at that disheveled stage where there are boxes and packing materials scattered everywhere, with those random odds and ends that you don't know quite how to categorize sitting out waiting for a box. We have the unique situation of having to sort things by "pack to take to China (in suitcases)," "pack to ship to China," "pack to put into storage," "pack to take to Mom and Dad's," and of course "Goodwill," and "trash." Not as simple as just "throw it all in boxes so we can move it to the new place."

Oh, yeah, and we have a friend coming to stay with us for the weekend. Life's never boring around here!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sometimes It's No Fun Being a Grownup

Most of the time, I don't really think of myself as being all that grown-up. I try to avoid accepting the fact that I am "over 30." I think I'm pretty young at heart. But then there are some days when the world around me makes it very clear that I am an adult who has to deal with very adult issues. I become the shoulder to lean on, the source of moral support, and find myself giving advice when either possible option can only be qualified as messy. Sometimes life doesn't give happy endings; sometimes there are no perfect answers.

It's times like these that I feel every bit of my age. But then I find that strength that comes from beyond myself, and I know that it'll be okay.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

It's a Plaid, Plaid World

Yesterday for my birthday Seth and I went to Little Rock for some shopping and general merriment. It was a lot of fun. I think my favorite finds of the day were these black and white plaid shoes and slouchy convertible bag. Love! They were both on clearance and both too adorable to pass up (although, contrary to Seth's opinion, I did NOT buy them so I could wear them together).

All in all, it was a pretty good birthday. The only downer was the whole getting older thing, but I guess it wouldn't be my birthday without that part, now would it? I mean, I've got to have some excuse for getting a jumbo chocolate chip cookie with buttercream frosting, right?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Your Complete Guide to Cooking Electrically

I found this cool little retro cookbook on one of our thrifting expeditions a few weeks ago in Springfield. It was published in 1960, and it's written for housewives who are just venturing into the new and exciting world of electric ovens. I love the intro:
"This book has been planned and written especially for you - the homemaker whose first interest is in her family, who loves to please her husband and children, whose heart grows warm when they like what she cooks."

And this excerpt:
"There's nothing more beautiful in all of kitchendom than a sparkling new electric range. Available in a batch of bright-eyed colors, there's a model to 'pretty-up' any kitchen and please any budget."

Those sure were different times, weren't they? It actually has some recipes that look pretty good. Living in China necessitates a lot of cooking from scratch, so I like to look through old cookbooks for recipes that are easily adaptable to ingredients I can buy at the local markets. I think even if this one didn't have a ton of usable recipes, I'd still keep it for the cover art alone. Kitschy chic!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

It's Hobby Time!

For the past couple of months I've been feeling the itch to pick up a new hobby - but which one? I've always dabbled in crafty-type things; about ten years ago I flirted with crochet (made a scarf or two, but never really learned how to read a pattern), and I started stamping/making cards back in 2001. I've never tried scrapbooking, although the idea of starting an art journal really appeals to me. The biggest factor I have to consider in any crafting endeavor is the availablilty of supplies in China. For example, smooth cardstock is impossible to find - it all has a weird, visible "marbled" texture to it. Forget about chipboard, craft paints, inks, patterned paper, brads, stickers - they just don't exist. So I wanted something that wouldn't require a huge investment, with supplies readily available overseas. I finally decided on (drumroll please)... Embroidery! I found this little starter kit on e-bay:

Next I want to get this book:

We'll see how it all goes!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Happy Times

The smell of hot coffee on a rainy morning.
Magazines full of visual inspiration.
These things make me happy.

I am so antsy to get back overseas and into our new apartment. We already have an apartment lined up, although we've never actually seen the inside (long story). Short version: it's at a price we can't pass up, and we can live there long-term. And best of all - we'll be able to decorate however we like, with one caveat: the apartment comes partially furnished. I've been told the living room has a black leather couch / loveseat combo; not what I would have picked, but what can you do? At least we won't have to worry about the dog getting the cushions dirty! ; ) So any color palette I use has to incorporate those big black pieces. Right now I'm tossing around either pale blue or light warm grey for the walls (paint or fabric; not sure which). Or I might just leave the walls white and put up floor to ceiling bookshelves in a warm brown finish, like these BILLY bookshelves from Ikea:

I've been meaning to put together a home inspiration notebook with all my color swatches, inspiration pics, etc., but in the meantime I've discovered this new feature from Domino called My Deco File. You can upload pics from your computer, or use their "image tear tool" to grab pictures from other websites, and sort them all into different categories in your "books." I would still prefer to have a hands-on notebook, but this is a nice backup.

Poor Seth, if he had his way the whole place would be ultra-modern: stark white walls, sleek black and chrome furniture with shots of brilliant red. Me, I lean a little more toward mid-century modern with a splash of contemporary: organic materials like wood and pottery and lots of textured fabrics; warm colors like brown and orange. I try to include him in the design process, but he pretty much tells me just to do what I like, and he'll be happy if I'm happy. Now that's true love!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Birthday Week

It's birthday week right now in our family. Over the course of a week, we have Seth's birthday, my FIL's birthday, and my birthday. Last night we went out to eat with my inlaws for a group birthday celebration. Lots of fun. Good food, even yummier cake.

Here's a picture of Seth's birthday cake from a couple of days ago. If you're wondering about the quote on the cake, he turned 34 this year... I know some of you will get it. ; )

And here's the card I made for my FIL. This was prototype number 3 - yesterday was not a good crafting day for me. I definitely need to clean up my crafting space so that I quit getting stray ink everywhere - like on my nearly finished, painstakingly watercolored card front. Yeah, it was that kind of a day.

I'm still working on Seth's card; I wanted to try my hand at something a little more elaborate, something I've never tried making before, and wouldn't you know it I've been having printer issues galore. (sigh) Why do I always seem to bite off more than I can chew at the most inopportune times?