Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Decorating Ideas from DIY

Here are some awesome projects I’ve found on DIY Ideas. I wanted to share.

We need more artwork in our place, but we also have a ton of wall space that is empty as of now. Sticking even a large picture frame into the middle of it would look ridiculous, so I’m thinking of doing a combination of these:

I wouldn’t necessarily do several of the same print, but who knows? And I wouldn’t use this method of papering the walls themselves and adding a trim border.

It would be more like this. I prefer this method of papering a blank artist’s canvas. Now I just need to find a place where I can buy wallpaper scraps or buy it by the foot... Anyone know of a website or store that does this?

Another project that I have in mind that will likely happen much sooner is to embellish the vases that I bought at the thrift store with some old beaded necklaces or just wire with various beads that I can buy loosely.

I also want to do this with some candles. Gorgeous, right?

My last project is one that I worked on this weekend.

I don't have all plain terra cotta pots, though, so I've had to improvise and paint with the decorations that are already there. Pictures to come, once they're done and once I figure out the card reader for the camera. Also, I'm not mounting them to a fence, even though there is a lovely divider wall that separates our apartment from the one to the right of ours. But I'm pretty sure the wood is just plywood and isn't nearly thick enough. But I love the idea of the painted pots. So far they're pretty cute.

I will also be doing my own version of this.

I won't be using the powdered drink containers since our medicine cabinets have tiny shelves. But I'm planning on using the same idea with some small cans from my pantry. I can't wait!

Take the Good With the Bad

I took Friday off and had a four day weekend, which was definitely nice. I had big plans for the apartment. I was going to organize all of our bookcases (four of them in our living room, stuffed to the brim) and I was going to paint some flower pots for my patio garden outside. I also wanted to go shopping at the local thrift stores (I blame Centsational Girl) to see if I could find some nice vases and other fun things to pretty-up the living space.

The good news is that I found some really cute and pretty things for the bathroom and my bookcases. I also found a fake book that will serve as a cute jewelry box. So very me too! And the most darling little teapot for my crimson berry tea pick-me-up at work. Just looking at it here on my desk, next to my books, makes me happy. I keep novels on my desk as a security blanket. No lie. They make my desk feel like a home office. Hell, if I thought they’d let me wallpaper my cube walls, I would.

The bad news is that I have one small problem when it comes to decorating. Her name is Lily. Everything on a flat surface is fair game. We can’t keep her off of our tables, countertops, window shelves, bookcases... Even the top of the fridge is a playground. If I leave anything out, it’s on the floor when I turn my back. The husband brought me a rose when he came home from work the other night (he’s sweet) and I had to refill the vase FOUR times after the cat had knocked it over, spilling flower water all over the dining room table. It seems that any attempts to make the place lovely will have to be executed with kitty in mind. What can I do? Velcro her everything down?

Suggestions??? (Please?)

My Absence Makes Your Heart Grow Fonder

It’s been a week since I’ve posted. True Confession time – I have tons of things I want to write about, but I have pictures to go with them and I can’t figure out how to get my memory card reader to read the card in my husband’s camera. He assures me that it will work, but I can’t seem to wrap my head around it. So to make up for my absence, I’ll post several times today. With junky pictures from Google Images until I can add my own. Happy? Jeez.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hump Day. Not as fun as it sounds.

Oh God someone pull the fire alarm. This week, work has been kind of slow. The weather is gorgeous, and the sun is peeking through the office windows, begging me to step outside. I should be working through my pile of filing, but I can’t seem to muster the energy. Nay, I cannot summon the motivation. I have plenty of energy, but I’m sitting here wishing I could be at home, tackling the projects that I’ve been dreaming up over the past few days. Perhaps I’ll request Friday as a vacation day. Note to self.

Despite my frequent complaining about not having a job that satisfies my literary urges, I truly have an excellent job. I don’t work in an office with depressing fluorescent lighting, and I don’t have to speak with customers. I work with people who call me because they know that I can help them. They don’t phone with the assumption that they’ll have to come in swinging, ready to fight for what they want. They know that it’s my job to help them, and that I will most likely be able to do that. That’s a plus. And I really can’t stress enough how glad I am to work in an office like this. It’s gorgeous, it’s hip. The d├ęcor is so very right now. So there’s that.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

X-traordinary X-Chromosomes, Part 2

Another woman whose writing I am absolutely in awe of is Arundhati Roy. She's phenomenal. Her novel, The God of Small Things, is quite possibly my all-time favorite book. If not, it's definitely in the top 3 or 5. Again, it isn't only the subject material that makes it great. I love that her prose is more like poetry than any other novel I've read. The story itself is of two young twins in Kerala, India in the 60's, but to limit this book to a plot description would not do it justice. The phrasing that Roy uses is vibrant and exotic. The book positively thrums in your hands when you hold it. Her words have a pulse. The pages bleed. Every time I pick it up I am rewarded. Open it to any page, any moment, any sentence. It's breathtaking.

Margaret Atwood is a contemporary author whose novels are right up there with the classics. Animal Farm. Brave New World. 1984. Distopias, right? The opposite of utopian paradise, where the chaotic is norm and existence has been turned onto its figurative head. Orwell and Huxley are literary icons when it comes to this style of writing. They make social commentary by creating caricatures of society and stretching the negatives so insanely out of proportion that the reader can’t help but notice. I think that Atwood should permanently be added to the list of distopian masters. (Ayn Rand, too, but I’m not as familiar with her work.) Her novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, is perhaps the work she is best known for. And rightly so – a religious coup occurs in government and nuclear war is waged across the globe, leaving behind a worldwide inability for women to conceive. A smattering of women are still fertile, and these “handmaids” become property of the government and are made responsible for repopulating the human race. Brilliant plotline. One of my favorites - and incidentally, another commonly banned book. (My favorite!)

Monday, May 18, 2009

X-traordinary X-Chromosomes, Part 1

As a writer, there are several female authors who are super-fabulous in my book (so to speak).

Barbara Kingsolver is... awesome. Awe-inspiring. Her storytelling is top-notch, and her coolness factor gets a boost because she's a biologist as well as an author. So aside from being insanely well-written, her books teach me things I never would have learned in school. Prodigal Summer is a great example - her detailed descriptions of insects and plantlife are fascinating, and I credit this book with being the impetus behind my taking up gardening this spring. I also now know (from her descriptions) that honeysuckle is both a weed and one of the most lovely scents known to man. See? Education. She also provides a breath-of-fresh-air outlook on wild coyotes and why natural predators should not be killed en masse by humans. Despite PS's lusciousness, my favorite of hers is still The Poisonwood Bible. Truly epic. Four sisters are carted off to the Congo when their bible-toting, southern Baptist, hellfire and brimstone preaching Daddy agrees to head up a Christian mission in the jungle. Bring faith, "the way, the truth, and the light" (if you will) to the heathen of Africa. Their story is told from the point of view of all four sisters as well as their mother, over the course of three generations. Intense. Life-changing. Seriously.

Sena Jeter Naslund wrote another of my all-time favorite contemporary novels, Ahab's Wife. I read this in high school and can scarcely remember anything about it except that it's from the point of view of Captain Ahab's wife. Yes, the same Captain from Moby Dick, who hobbled around the decks of the Pequod and hoped to capture the ever-ellusive white whale. While I cannot remember much about the plot, I definitely remember it being so good and so well-written that I didn't want the book to end. I felt warm and cozy every time I picked the book up. I tend to think that the subject material wasn't the reason, since I vaguely remember a scene featuring cannibalism. At least I know now from writing this that 1) I need to read this book again, clearly, since I cannot remember a single important plot detail, and 2) I've been including this book in my list of favorites based on my memory of how reading it made me feel. I can say that in reading Four Spirits, I know that this has not been in vain. FS is phenomenal as well. Note to self, add all Naslund's works to my Amazon Wish List. Christmas is a' comin' folks!

More later...

Friday, May 15, 2009

American Pastoral. Incredible.

This book is everything that is right with modern literature.

Roth's prose is some of the most moving, beautiful, and honest that I've ever read. I have many, many favorites, but his work is so far beyond most things that are on the shelves these days that it warrants a brief mention, if nothing else.

And what a concept. An all-around champion athlete grows up to inherit his family's glove factory in Newark, New Jersey. He marries former Miss New Jersey, and they have a daughter, Meredith, whom they call Merry. They have the picture-book life, until Merry grows into the worst kind of angsty teenager. (Not the Twilight-watching, bitchy teenage girls that most families are familiar with...) She sets off a bomb in the local general store, killing a local doctor, in an attempt to bring attention to the war in Vietnam.

The entire book is about the main character's struggle with whether he and his wife are inherently to blame for what their child did. And since it's Roth, it's detailed and stark and it grabs you by the heart and won't let go.


A Yoga a Day Keeps the Grumpies Away

There's nothing like starting the day with a yoga class at work. Yes indeed - get to work at 8:20, stretch out, listen to relaxing music. Yoga class starts at 8:30 and runs until about 9:30, occasionally lasting until 9:45. Then, when we're good and ready, we mosey on up to work and the day has just begun!

My day goes by much faster after a yoga class. Aside from the obvious explanation (duh, you've only worked 6 1/2 hours instead of 8, Miss!) I personally think that it gives me more energy to make it through the day. I'm in tune with my body, I've reflected on how amazing it is to be practicing while on the clock, and I'm ready to have a productive day!

Despite the nasty weather, I'm not grumpy. I attribute this mostly to the fact that it's Friday, but I'd like to think that my positive outlook can be at least partially blamed on our class this morning.

Plus, I always love a legitimate reason to use my awesome yoga mat, which I love.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Cube With a View

Today has been a slow one in the office. My work is done, and while I am certainly not lacking things that I could be doing, I’m not seeking out any new projects either. I prefer to spend afternoons like these looking at pretty things online. Here are some things that I like to look at other than my computer screen or the walls behind my desk...

I spend lots of time daydreaming on Country Living. Look at the fourth picture in the series. Such a bright bedroom. I love the colors and all of the space it has. And I also love this one. The very last picture is of a little girl's room, with dress-up clothes hanging near the bed. It is the essence of girlhood. It reminds me of playing dressup when I was little. I had a canopy bed that I was in love with. It was a bed for a princess. Best 5th birthday present ever.

I also love finding pictures of places I'd rather be than at work. How about this one? I feel like I could write a whole story around this picture.

Rain's 'A Comin'

Driving to work today, the air was charged with the energy of an impending rain shower. The sky was light grey, with spots of white where the sun was trying to peek through.

One of the first things I noticed was the mini-tornado of pink flower petals that swirled through the parking lot of our apartment complex. It was stunning and unexpected. The air was warm, but the wind was picking up quickly.

I love the first few minutes before the rain starts on days like this. Summer showers tend to happen that way. A few distant rumbles of thunder, a more insistent wind, and that tiny instant of panic that you get when you’re outside and you know the storm’s coming. I don’t know if this is left over from our days living as nomads, or if we carry this panic with us from childhood when we’re rushed indoors from playing outside as soon as the raindrops begin. Either way, the moment wouldn’t be as exciting if it wasn’t for the tiny panic that courses through your veins.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Feline? Fine.

We adopted a cat from the RISPCA about 2 weeks ago. They don’t know how old she is because she was dropped off at their doorstep in a laundry basket, but she seems to be anywhere from 6-10 months old. She’s quite possibly the most bizarre feline I’ve ever encountered, which makes her awesome and a constant source of entertainment.

Strange kitty habit:
Kitty drinks water with her paws. She scoops it out and then licks her paw to get the water from it.

Strange kitty addiction:
Kitty seems to have developed a taste for people food prior to the laundry basket incident. Unfortunately she gets a vigorous spray of water in the face or the butt when she tries it at our house. She may also have short term memory loss, since this only seems to phase her for a few seconds before she tries again.

Strange kitty factiod:
Kitty will only walk away from her food dish once she has attempted to bury it. Always unsuccessful, but always vigilant.

Strange kitty personality:
Kitty loves to be held, petted, and acknowledged in any way. She licks your fingers when you pet her, wraps both front paws around your forearm to ensure that you aren’t going anywhere, and she proceeds to give you a proper sandpaper-tongue bath.

Strange kitty hallucinations:
Kitty entertains herself by imagining that she sees things high up on the walls, and then she attempts to climb these in pursuit of her invisible prey. Kitty only appears slightly embarrassed when she is unsuccessful, but is excellent at masking this by pretending that she “just felt like jumping around, okay?” She then hops and jumps around the living room just to prove a point. So there.

Strange kitty potty habit:
Kitty had an accident in the bathroom. She apparently didn’t make it to the litter box, but she was kind enough to cover her indiscretion with our bathmat so we wouldn’t have to see the unsightly mistake when we walked in. Thoughtful.

All in all, we can’t imagine why someone would have brought her to the shelter, but we’re glad that we found her! The dog is still adjusting to her new sister. She declined statement. She doesn’t seem depressed with the new addition – only perturbed at her odd living-habits. As are we, Isabel, as are we.

Here is a picture of actual kitty, as opposed to previous picture which was not our kitty but was nicely illustrating the countertop issue... It's a little dark, but also hilarious since it looks like she's about to attack the dog. I assure you, she is not. No pugs were harmed in the making of this photo.