Friday, December 2, 2011

Accidentally Hipster

Yesterday I was doing my homework for typography, one of my graphic design classes. The assignment was to create a 2-page magazine layout with the article "The Gospel According to Hipsters," written by Brett McCracken for Relevant magazine (a shortened version of the article is available here). Because of the topic of the article, I naturally spent a fair amount of time on Pinterest searching for photos of hipsters.

After picking a few photos to use, I spent some time reading flow charts and hipster-edit pictures (under the guise of doing my homework, of course). Hipsters, like any slice of society, are easy to make fun of. In reading through these sarcastic accounts of stereotypical trendy hipsters, I came to a terrifying realization. 

I am a hipster.


But yes.

Think about it. What is a hipster, after all? A knitting, crafting, glasses-wearing, Goodwill-shopping tea-drinking person, most likely in their early twenties, with a degree in English or art.

What am I? A knitting, crafting, glasses-wearing, Goodwill-shopping tea-drinking person, in my early twenties, with a degree in journalism and graphic design.

Oops. Didn't see that one coming. See, I always thought hipsters were like the baristas at Rinnova (our campus coffee shop). They wear V-necks and skinny jeans and slouchy hats and Toms. Oh, and girls work there too.

I'm not like that. I'm not into the whole "it's so ugly it's cool" thing. Never really understood it.

Then, a while back, a friend pointed out to me (jokingly) that I'm a hipster because I knit. I beg to differ. I've been knitting for years! And that chandelier above our bed; so what if I made it myself out of wax paper and a hanging basket. That doesn't make me a hipster! Neither does the quilt on the bed or the dress I recently spent a month making from scratch myself so I could attend a counter-cultural event known as a Civil War reenactment. The tea in my fair-trade travel mug that never leaves my hand doesn't make me hip and there is nothing trendy about shopping second hand.

Besides, I couldn't possibly be a part of that group; it's made up of cool people, and I'm not cool. I'm weird and different. I'm married

(But now everybody else is getting married. You know what that means...)

I was married before it was cool!

Oh no! I'm one of them!

Ironically (there's another hipster word), I actually have been doing this stuff since before it was cool. I must say, I never thought people would want to be like me. I'm not really that kind of person. 

But since I learned everything I know from my mom, I guess that makes her the original hipster. She did always say that if she kept wearing the same stuff all the time eventually it would be cool again...

So what do you think? Have you ever found yourself accidentally a part of a social group you didn't know existed? Maybe you found out that the hippest people around were really trying to emulate you, or your mother. Hopefully none of you have ever done anything so silly as set up a mirror photoshoot while you were home by yourself in your hubbies sweater (which you ironically actually happened to be wearing when you decided to take said pictures) to post to a blog about being an accidental hipster. But tell me if you did. I promise not to judge. And sometimes it's nice to know that there are other people like me in the world.

Not that there are. I'm unique. I'm a hipster.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Well Fiddle-dee-dee

My dad has always been a Civil War history buff. He had shelves full of books on the subject, and nearly all of our family vacations included trips to famous battlefields or even reenactments. At some point when I was little, he started taking part in reenactments himself (dressing as a soldier and taking part in the battle), and when I was 12 or 13, he took the whole family to our first reenactment.

I was so excited. I too enjoyed American history. Perhaps I didn't appreciate it to the extent that my dad did, but what 13-year-old does?  I spent all my free time reading, and my favorite genre was historical fiction. Perhaps my tastes were affected by my dad's affinity for the period, but many of the stories I read took place in that general time period. The idea of being able to step back in time, in a way, excited me.

I didn't care much for the battles, but I knew about them. I was most interested in the dresses that made the southern belles of the period look like so many princesses. I thought that at a reenactment I could don a hoop and be a princess for a day. My mom made me a gorgeous dress (even though historically I would have been too young to wear a hoop) and I convinced her to let me buy one. I was going to be gorgeous.

I had so much fun at that first reenactment, and our family attended several more over the years. Unfortunately, I was pretty much the only one who enjoyed them besides my dad. Mom could be persuaded to go to some of the larger events, but eventually we quit going.

Well, recently, I decided I wanted to go again. Never mind that we haven't gone in 5 years or that I'm now married to a man who's never even studied American history (he grew up in Africa. Give him a break). So, I told the Facebook world of my desire to time travel, and (as often happens when I post random requests for things that don't matter much to the interwebs), dad said he was thinking about going to one in October and would I like to join him.

Um, YES! How fun!

The only problem was that the weekend of the reenactment, Dave was working a wedding so he couldn't go with me, and I wouldn't have a car to get there. So, I began to think of who I could con into going take along with me. I was randomly talking to Anna (one of the sisters-in-law) about it, and she said she'd love to come! Later, Michele (another SIL) decided to come, too.

So, the three of us began to plan our time-traveling weekend!

I knew I wanted a new dress for the event; the last one I wore still fit, but had a poorly mended tear in the skirt (cars and hoop skirts don't mix...), and I wanted to see if I could do it. I began looking for inspiration.

I started, where else, but with Gone With the Wind! Granted, many of the costumes in this movie are not historically accurate, but they're close enough to begin visualizing what I wanted to try. Ideally, I wanted a dress that could have one skirt and two bodices, taking it from day to night with the least amount of fabric. I love many of the dresses in this movie, but the one that stood out to me was Scarlett's prayer dress, or the white fluffy one from the opening scene.

It's pretty. And ruffly. And 33 yards of fabric. Yikes. 

I knew the  top wouldn't do (the costume designer for the movie thought that the long sleeves worn during the day in the period made Vivien Leigh look too old and so she's nearly always seen in short sleeves--not something a young lady would have ever done during the day!), but I was in love with that skirt. I found fashion plates from Goodey's Ladies Book (the fashion magazine of the time) and came up with a game plan.

Both dresses are ruffled. One for the day, one for the night. So I thought maybe my crazy scheme just might work out. I knew I could make the skirt without too much trouble. The skirt is basically three huge panels all gathered together at the top, and then I'd have to add bunches of ruffles running down it. Not rocket science, but time consuming.

What had me worried was the bodice. I've spent the last week or so pouring over my mom's stash of Civil War patterns, and settled on one day dress and one ball gown. I've decided to tackle the ball gown first, just in case I can't finish both. After all, I still have my old dress that I can wear during the day.

So far, all I've done is sew the skirt panels together. I'm planning on adding the waistband this week, and cutting out the bodice pieces. My parents have the hoop I'll be wearing, so I can't hem the skirt or figure out exactly the width, length or placement of the ruffles until I have that important addition. But I've purchased 20 yards of white muslin ($1.39/yard! Yay!) And have begun the long process of washing and ironing it. 

I'm excited to see how it turns out, and I promise to keep you posted.

If you're interested to see more of my inspiration for this project, you can check out my Pinterest Civil War board.

So, how about you? Do you have any nerdy secrets hiding in your past? Are you a history buff? Have you ever attempted a project that was totally beyond you, but had it magically turn out well (I hope so. I want to know that it's possible.)? What do you think of my dress idea? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

It's Not Easy Being Green

Assuming "green" is another word for "married college student," that is.

I'd like to start out by saying that I have never for a minute regretted my decision to marry while still in college. Dave and I are very much in love, and it was exactly the right decision for us. We are very happy, love our little life together and love to watch everything fall into place around us.

However, sometimes I can't help but think how nice it would be to just "fit" somewhere. Our pastor, when making a point about how everyone can and should do something, used to say "Now, don't say to me, 'Jim! I'm only a housewife!' or 'Jim! I'm only a student!'" I would sit there thinking "Jim, I wish I was 'just' a housewife or 'just' a student!"

Both jobs are full-time, meaning my time is extremely limited. On top of my two full-time jobs, I carry two part-time jobs (the real kind... where they pretend to give you money and everything). During the school year, all of this business builds up to make me very stressed.

But lately I've been thinking that the stress isn't even the worst part. No, the worst part is the not fitting.

My dad used to try to help me understand people by explaining to me how everyone loves labels. "Rachel," he'd say, "people like things to fit. When they don't fit, they get uncomfortable. They like to label everything, so they'll be uncomfortable with you until they can figure out where you fit and label you."

No, he wasn't trying to tell me to conform, he was simply explaining how things work. Sometimes, people need to instantly know where you stand, so it's easiest to fit yourself into a category.

Unfortunately, I don't fit into a category. I don't know that I ever have, really. But it's painfully obvious now. I suppose it could show up from either direction, but usually people first know me as Dave's wife. If conversation goes on from there, it goes something like this:

"So, how long have you been married?"

"A little over a year."

"Oh, how nice. You two must be so happy."

"Yes, thank you."

"So, do you have any children?"

"Oh no, we've only been married a year, and I'm still in school."

**conversation comes to a screeching halt.** At this point, the woman on the other end of the conversation either gives me a pitying look, or looks at me like I'm insane. Pity is usually accompanied by something like "Oh don't worry, you'll be blessed with a baby soon then you won't have to worry about any of that anymore," and crazy eyes sounds like: "What? In school?"

I don't think anyone's ever gone so far as to say "you're crazy." But that's the sort of thing that shows through the eyes quite easily.

I suppose to a certain extent I can understand. I mean, many people hear "young wife" and think this:

or this:

I suppose I've just dropped the bombshell on them that I am neither of those things, I am, instead, this:

Unfortunately, I think when people hear "college student" when they expected to hear "mommy," they instead see me as this:

Hmm, come to think of it, the Girl Scout does look the most like me. I may have to rethink this whole thing.

Anyway, sometimes I leave parties angry, or at the very least disgruntled. When older women learn that I don't have any babies to talk about, they don't have anything to talk about. Except maybe everything I have to look forward to. Or labor horror stories. Honestly, I'm not sure how those are supposed to encourage me to have children or ever be excited about it.

When younger single girls find out I'm married, they have nothing to say, either. After all, they can't talk about how cute such-and-such a guy is... I'm blind now.

And whenever anyone finds out that I'm a married student, they're struck dumb. Unless they call me dumb. I suppose some people find their tongue in telling me that I should have waited or dropped out. And if I had just gotten married, they'd be looking for the tell-tale bump.

Newsflash: I didn't have to get married. I wanted to. And, I'm still in school because it's important to me. Oh boy is it important to me. It would be so much easier to drop out. But I won't.

Sometimes I want to hand out cards to people before we're introduced, just to save headache. They would look something like this:

But that might be rude.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Why I Should Get a Seam Ripper

Just a few weeks ago I finished up all my school projects, took my exams, and went home for the summer.

Well, I walked home. I must admit, I was a bit depressed to watch everyone else packing up and moving across the country. School doesn't really feel like it's over if you go back to work at school the very next day. Oh well, that's life. It is still very nice to have no homework. 

Then, my living room became a craft explosion:

And yes, it still looks pretty much like that. I'm such a good housekeeper!

I had been collecting projects that I want to complete to add to our house, and I finally had time to complete them. A month or so ago I made living room curtains just in time for my parents to visit. I had purchased enough fabric to do our living room and our bedroom, but I didn't have time to do both. I also got fabric to make a cushion for our cute mid-century coffee-table-turned-bench by the front door. 

So far, besides the living room curtains of course, that's the only project I've finished. 

Here's the naked bench (in its normal messy state; keeping it real!) before:

And here's the finished project (sorta): 

Now, it's not officially finished because I want to add button "tufting" to it, to give a bit less of a homemade feel. Not that anything I make is polished enough to look not homemade. 

Now, with this cushion, I made the mistake of not following a pattern or a tutorial because really, how hard can a couple of straight seams be? 

Figuring out the sizes of the pieces wasn't too difficult. The bench is 12 inches by 50 inches, and the foam that I used for the cushion is 1 inch thick. So I took those measurements and added a 1/2 inch seam allowance on all sides (this means I added one inch to each measurement on every piece).   

This is what I cut out:

Two 13"x51" rectangles
Two 2"x51" rectangles
Two 2"x13" rectangles

Then, I ironed all the pieces to make sure all creases were gone. A pressed piece is a pretty piece!

I started by sewing one of the long skinny pieces to a long side of one of the big pieces. To do this, I put them right sides together (pretty sides together) and lined up the edges, then pinned every few inches to keep them together. I sewed a straight stitch a 1/2 inch from the edge all the way down. 

Then, I did the same thing with a short side, the other long side, and the other short side (I just worked my way around). 

Here's where my first problem came in. While I knew how to make a basic cushion (sew three sides together, leave a gap on the fourth side to stuff the pillow through, whip stitch the opening closed) I hadn't thought of the fact that I wanted this cushion to be boxy. I didn't know how to make the corners! Now, I'm going to tell you how I did them, but I want you to know that I still haven't researched it and I have no idea what the best way to do it is. I just know mine worked, and while it was a pain to work with, it looks fine now. 

I pinned the short sides of the skinny pieces, right sides together. Now, since I'd already sewed them to the first big piece, this wasn't the easiest thing in the world. I then sewed them together (with a 1/2 inch seam allowance), being very careful to keep all the other fabric out of the way. It made a boxy corner. Yay me! Tricky, and almost definitely not the most efficient way of achieving it, but hey, it worked!

I did that to all four corners, then sewed the top big piece to it. That was tricky too, but not nearly so bad as the corners. Unfortunately, I still ran into a problem. Well, two problems.

The first came when I measured the side to double check that it was the right size. Remember the foam was 1" thick? That means that I wanted the side of the cushion to be 1" thick.

The red lines are supposed to show you the seams. They are wigglier than the origional seams, but not much more. Boo.

Anyway, what I was trying to show you was that the side is actually 1 1/4", not 1". Double boo.

So, I did what my mom trained me to do when i screwed up like this: I ripped out.

Unfortunately for me, my mom owned a seam ripper. I did not. So I spent 40 minutes with my eyebrow tweezers and a pair of scissors. And my teeth. And Dave's brute force. And eventually I got that seam ripped out far enough to fix it and tried again.

Now, this Fat Side Syndrome was partly caused by the fact that I set my seam allowance at 1/2". With my machine, it's easier to do a 1/4" seam allowance, because then I can follow the edge of my sewing foot, instead of trying to follow a faint line on the plate under the foot. So, next time I'll do a 1/4" seam allowance.

The other problem I ran into was when I was trying to get the cushion into the case. I had left a little space on one end to shove it through, but I hadn't thought about the fact that it's difficult to make square corners when you bunch up a cushion. So, the opening wasn't big enough. I tweezed the seam out here, too, and stuffed the cushion in. Actually, I was frustrated, so I talked Dave into stuffing it in. Yay for hubbys!

Then, I had to whip-stitch the opening closed. Oops. Whip-stitching isn't particularly beautiful to begin with, and it's less beautiful when you only have cream-colored tread, and your fabric is dark brown. Add that to the fact that I had to do most of a side, and the results weren't show-stopping.

Actually, maybe they were. Would something good really stop a show? I think a show is more likely to stop if the set falls down or somebody gets hit on the head with a sand bag. My seam was that kind of showstopper.

See? Oh well. I didn't feel like fighting it anymore. Maybe if I ever get around to buying brown thread I'll go in a fix it. Or maybe I don't care.

Anyway, 1,100 words later, the cushion was done. Except for buttons. It looks pretty cute.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Design Trends I Hate

I love collecting inspiration and ideas for decorating my home. There are lots of things I love, many things that grow on me over time, and several things I cannot stand. These are of the "cannot stand" variety.

1. Taxidermy

OK, so maybe taxidermy isn't a huge trend outside of man-caves or hunter's cabins. But it's slightly less creepy cousin is:

Ceramic animal heads. It's like saying you want dead things hanging on your walls, but you're afraid that going hunting will spoil your man-icure.

2. Distressed

I think that this trend looks like it needs to be fixed up. It brings to mind paint peeling off old barns, or abandoned buildings that are in danger of falling down. To me, It looks like something that I want to fix up, not something that I want to showcase.

3. Skulls

Why would you want to glorify death? I don't understand how skulls have become so trendy, even in fashion. Sometimes they're branded emo, sometimes whimsical, but they're always creepy.

4. Doll Parts

These look like a serial killer's souvenirs. Why why why would you want to decorate your home with bitty baby body parts? These top my list of creepiest decor, yet I've seen them more than the rest. How can you think that dismembered baby dolls are cute and whimsical?

What are your least favorite trends? Is there anything out there that makes you scratch your head and wonder what the designer was thinking?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I've been on this site for a matter of weeks, and it already trumps Facebook in my list of procrastination tools.

And let me tell you, that takes some doing. I'm a fantastic procrastinator.

This site is essentially endless inspiration on any and every topic. Sometimes I filter to see only art prints or bedrooms; sometimes I let it all come through and admire Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies and teny-tiny dogs. 

Yes. There is such a thing as an Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookie. Did you just die and go to heaven? I know I did. 

Gems like that are exactly why I find myself wasting hours a day just looking. I can save anything I like for reference later!

You start pinboards of topics you're interested in. For example, I have a "For the Home" board, a "Cuteness" board and a "Food" board, to name a few.

Then, you can pin items to your boards from anywhere on the internet and it will link back to that site. 

You can also follow people who  you find interesting or inspiring and see what they stumble across and pin up. You can always repin someone else's pin to your own board.

I've already found enough crafts and recipes that I want to try to keep me busy for a year, and somehow I keep coming back for more.

Beyond everything else, it is an incredible tool for bringing scores of inspiration from all over the internet together in one place. Much of the content are things that I would have never seen were it not published in this way. And I'm very thankful for the opportunity to be exposed to so much beauty. 

Before and After: Chairs

When we got engaged, I started following wedding blogs. Shortly before we got married, I discovered interior decorating blogs. They're far more useful. The first one that got me hooked was Design*Sponge. Luckily for...someone (me? the blogger?) I stumbled across this blog for the first time on a Thursday, which just happens to be their Before and After day. Anyone can send in pictures, and the ones that catch the attention of author Grace Bonney get published on Thursdays. I loved many of the projects that I saw that day, and was instantly addicted to the idea that I could take something old and broken (and hopefully inexpensive!) and make it beautiful.

I began a search for furniture for our future home, and was disappointed to see that they don't give away nice (but ugly) furniture for free most of the time. I was showing my dad some of my favorite examples of trash-to-treasure and telling him of my hopes and dreams for my future home when he pointed out that there are three outbuildings on his farm, all of which are bound to have some discarded furniture or other.

He was right! The big red barn housed old church pews (that are probably longer than my entire apartment), the workshop had a row boat (is that furniture?) and the garage had half a bed frame, a toy kitchen, and five beaten-up chairs. I wanted the chairs. So, we pulled them down from the rafters, took off the nasty seat cushions and hosed them off. (I wish I had a picture of them pre-hosing, even still in the rafters! But, alas. I did not think ahead).

Here's a chair post-hosing and pre-painting. It doesn't look awful. I hated the back and wanted to do something different with it, but unfortunately the back is one solid piece of plastic, as are each of the front two legs. Don't ask me; I have no idea what would posses someone to make a half-wood half-plastic chair. The first thing I did for these chairs was pick fabric. I decided it would be easier to fall in love with a fabric and match it with paint than to pick a paint and try to match it to a fabric.

I fell in love. 

I love bright colors, and Dave at least puts up with it (though he says that he loves them too), but I was afraid of going too bright with anything in my home. I wanted to look like an adult, not a teenager playing house.

For the record, I changed my mind approximately 2.4 seconds later.

But because I decided I didn't want to scare off grown-ups, I thought I'd go with a more subdued color tied in with the fabric.

Bad idea.

For the record, it was actually a very pretty color when not paired with this fabric. The picture at the store didn't look at all like grandma's linoleum...

I was unhappy. I didn't want to admit right away that I was unhappy because I knew that sometimes paint takes a while to grow on you. This didn't grow on me. So, we tried again.

It worked better this time. The orange was bold, but it's perfect on these chairs. It matches the fabric better than it appears in this photo, and it gives exactly the right amount of whimsy. And the high-gloss paint really makes them pop.

Things I learned:

Go with your gut. You know what you like, and will probably make the right choice to accomplish that. It was only when I second-guessed myself that we ended up with green chairs out of the 1940s. 

Always use high-gloss paint for furniture painting projects. I'm sure there are exceptions to this rule, but for now I'm going to say that it's worth the extra two bucks.

Don't be afraid to make something "look like you." Just because someone else wouldn't necessarily choose to put it in their house doesn't mean it's not worth having. Your home should fit your personality, and give any visitors a taste of who you are. You can't do this by living in the Pottery Barn showroom. As much as I'd like to do that sometimes.

Always enlist an ever-patient husband to help with jobs like priming. It also helps if he's a bit of a perfectionist and realizes he's better at painting and priming than you are, and takes over the project. 

I suppose that last point would only apply to a patient perfectionistic husband who also lets his adoring wife pick the paint colors. (Note: the patient part really comes in handy when you pick a gross color and make him have to paint over the chairs again.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Red-Headed Wife

I've been bored with my hair for a while. I actually got a perm in August.

It didn't stick. 

I knew I didn't want to cut it short because I loved my length. I also thought I didn't want to dye it, because over all I like my hair color. But then I changed my mind.

It was time for something new. I finally got up the nerve to ask Michele (my sister-in-law, who also happens to be a beautician) to cut and dye my hair. I still didn't want it short, but I wanted my blonde-red-brown-what-is-it? hair to be all the same color. My favorite of the three: red.

Specifically, I wanted Amy Adams red. Which is technically strawberry blonde, I think. But it's a gorgeous color. 

See, isn't it pretty? I love her hair, and I loved the idea that I could look like that! So, we went for it!

Before, front. I look rather plump in this picture. Ignore that. Maybe that was a worse hair length for me than I thought!

 Before, back. Aaaaaaand it's pointy. Who knew that it was pointy? Weird.

And after! It actually got even prettier after a couple days. I really  need to get another picture of it now, but it's almost exactly the color of  Amy's in the above picture.

We didn't perm my hair. I love curls, but can't get my hair to hold them, so Shele was trying to teach me how to curl my own hair. These curls stuck quite well; I have yet to try it on my own, however. So we'll see how that goes.

The Couches are Here!

They're finally here! After months of deliberating and weeks of waiting, our couches have arrived! I was so excited when I heard that they were in to the store, that I wasn't able to focus on anything the rest of the day. I figured we wouldn't have time to go get them that night, but apparently Dave was as impatient as I was, and he called his brother for help right away!

Here's Dave and his brother Will unloading them from Will's pickup. This is the only clear picture from the night they came home, because I was so excited I was bouncing.

Yes I bounce. What of it?

Our couches a few days later. I was slightly less bouncy.

They fit so perfectly! It's like they were made for this room. Somehow our room feels bigger, even though we added a couch. 

Dave says it's because they're closer to the wall. I say it's because they're perfect.

I love the shape of them; the heart-shaped back simply won my heart! The fabric is soft and the cushions are comfy. Dave likes to slouch on them with his feet on the coffee table, which I would roll my eyes at but mine are currently on the table as well. Oh well!

I'm so excited that we finally got our long-awaited couches. Our room looks all grown up!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Head of the Issue

This is our bedroom:

I would show you more angles, but this is basically all there is to see. I was standing in the closet when I took this, and there's a dresser at the end of the bed. If the drawers are open I can't get around to my side.

We had decided not to buy a bed frame with our mattress, because we knew eventually we'd want an entire bedroom set, and at the moment we don't have the space or money. However, the lack of frame meant lack of interest on the wall behind the bed. So, last summer we saw these awesome mirrors at Ikea for a grand total of $10. They were packaged together in the scratch and dent section; I think they're doors for a discontinued cabinet. Anyway, I had no idea what we'd do with them when we picked them up, but they seemed to want to live behind our bed, to add some drama to our otherwise drama-less room.

Then, a few months ago, I hung these paper lanterns:

They're actually left over from our wedding, but I think they look pretty good here. (Looking at the picture, I think I need to add another one or two near the head of the bed. I have more white ones, I'll just have to go find them). We actually removed the ugly dome from the light over our bed and hung one of the biggest lanterns from the light fixture, which is why there's an obnoxious bright ball in the middle of the ceiling. Trust me, it looks much better in person. 

They also added lots of drama to our room. Unfortunately, now we have two big dramatic pieces centering around our bed, and they compete. The mirrors are far too tall for the addition of the lanterns. That, combined with the fact that we never did get around to hanging art between them makes me want to try something new. After all, I'd only be out $10!

But what can we do? We don't want to buy a nice bed frame, because then we'll likely replace it when we buy a house and have more space. We can't paint an accent wall to add color. We'd like to avoid putting too many holes in the wall, but if we have to hang something that's fine. 

There are some inexpensive (read: about $100) bed frames at Ikea that are actually pretty cute, and we could potentially just use the frame on a guest bed down the road. 

Or, we could make a headboard of some sort. It need not be conventional; those mirrors are rather out-of-the-box-ish. 

Do you have any brilliant ideas? I'd love your wisdom. Maybe you've been hoarding pictures of creative headboards, just waiting for someone to ask you to help them design their bedroom. Well, I'm asking.

Or maybe you just hate the lanterns. Hey, that's cool too. Just be glad I didn't hang the pink ones.

p.s. You see that awesome quilt? That was a wedding gift from my mom. She spent months finding the perfect pattern and fabric, and then months more making it. It is a labor of love, and it is so perfect for us. The pattern is great and the colors are vibrant, which is one of our favorite things. 

Can't Live With It, Can't Live Without It

Technology, that is. I had photos of a before and after that we had done on our dining chars that I was planning on sharing with you this week. Unfortunately, my computer had other plans.

The battery's slowly been getting worse, and last time I checked, it lasted for about 40 minutes without being plugged in. On top of that, I could only turn up the screen brightness when it was plugged in, which made it difficult to impossible to read when functioning as the laptop computer it's supposed to be.

However, besides these power issues, it was running as well as ever. Everything was fast and I had plenty of space to save my homework, photos, inspiration, and music. As a student, I use my computer for virtually every class and both my jobs. I also waste spend hours stalking socializing on Facebook and perusing blogs for inspiration.

Imagine my dismay when I plugged in my computer Monday morning and punched the power button, and nothing happened. No, that's a lie. There was a blue light that blinked for a second. Then it was gone. So, I punched the button again, and again, the light blinked. I tried wiggling the power cord, switching outlets, and calling my dear husband. His best guess was that my power cord (which has certainly seen better days) had finally disconnected inside itself and needed to be spliced back together. He promised to fix it for me that evening, and I trudged off to a computer lab for the remainder of my pre-class break.

That evening, Dave took a knife to my cord, scaring me a bit, but since it was dead if he did and dead if he didn't, I honestly didn't mind much. After pinching wires together and tightly wrapping the break in electrical tape, he plugged it back in and dramatically hit the button.

No dice.

So, while Dave wiggled and punched and clicked, I grabbed his computer and looked up power cords on Amazon. When your computer is as old as mine, you can replace most parts for about the price of a Big Mac meal. Then, just before I clicked "Proceed to Checkout," Dave mentioned that maybe it wasn't the power cord at all. Maybe it was the battery, or some connection inside the computer itself. So, we decided to wait a day and try someone else's charger with my computer.

I tracked down a friend with a Dell, and asked to borrow her cord. It didn't fit. Mine was round and hers was octagonal. How much sense does that make?

So, we went ahead and bought the cord, and the battery. They should be here Friday. But until then, all my pictures are missing.

On the plus side, I'm very glad that I'm a procrastinator, because this means that I didn't spend a week working on my big project and lose it all. At least all the last-minute scrambling I'm avoiding is only the first time I'll have to work on this particular assignment!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things

Apparently, "a few" is more than three but less than 11. This definition doesn't make it easy for me to limit my choices of my favorite things, so I'll instead tell you what my favorite things are today. Warning: this is subject to change based on the day, weather, time, and/or frizziness of my hair. The order in which they appear is purely random.

1. Ravelry
Ravelry is a knitting and crocheting community on the internet, designed to allow crafters to share patterns they've written and pictures of projects they've completed. They can also ask for and give help on help forums, and browse a directory of thousands of patterns, many of which are free. I love this site, because it allows me access to so many free patterns. My favorite patterns lately are for baby hats for my recently-born niece and my soon-to-arrive nephew.

2. Amazon
I love this website. When I started college, I mainly used it for buying textbooks, but now Amazon and I are nearly inseperable. I love to decorate my home, but I also love to over-think everything. I can't just need a clock, go to Target and pick their cutest one. No, I scour the internet for weeks looking for the perfect clock, and when I find it, I second guess myself for several more weeks while I try to decide if it is, in fact, perfect or if it costs too much money. This year, Amazon gave me a free Prime membership (a promotion for students), which gives me free two-day shipping. They're just feeding my addiction. The above picture is the perfect clock, by the way. And I ordered it on Amazon last week. When I opened it yesterday, I saw the glass face was chipped and cracked, so I reported it to Amazon and shipped it back (free of charge, I might add), and I'll have a replacement tomorrow. I'm pretty pumped about that kind of customer service.

3. Design Blogs
I'm a sucker for a beautiful home decorating blog. I subscribe to more than I'll admit to in my Google reader, and I love pouring over inspirational photos and collections. I collect the photos that inspire me most, and use them to motivate me to make our apartment just a little bit more beautiful. Apartment Therapy, Design*Sponge and Young House Love are a few of my favorites.

4. Pinterest
I'm proud to say that I jumped on this one before it was a big deal. Meaning, I signed up for it before it was live. I put in my request and a week or so later was sent an "invite" saying that the site was no longer in beta mode and I was free to start pinning. It's a really cool concept, and if you're not careful, you could waste hours looking at the diverse pictures that show up just on the home page. It gives you a space to create pin boards on any subject you want, and you can go anywhere on the internet and "pin" images you like to your boards using a shortcut button. Then later you can find the images when you want them, and they'll be organized with similar images. It's really quite fun.

5. Friends
The real kind and the TV kind. My best friends from back home are coming to visit me this weekend, and I'm super pumped. In fact, I'm so busy being excited that I'm going to get to see them, that I haven't thought about where I'm going to put six people in this tiny two-bedroom apartment. Actually, bedroom is relative. There is only one bed in this apartment. There just happens to be an extra room that can't be called "living room" "kitchen" or "bathroom." That will be fun.

Also, my neighbor got me hooked, and I subsequently got Dave hooked, on Friends the TV show. We just started season 10, and I'm sad that it's going to end.

What's that? Oh yes, I know I'm pathetic. But you know you have your own guilty pleasure show, too. Don't deny it.

6. Ikea
I went to Ikea for the first time this summer (after spending weeks researching what I wanted to look at, of course), and I was blown away. That store is an experience in itself, but the fact that we could come away from it with much of our living room furniture, tables for our bedroom and a shelf for our kitchen (plus other miscellaneous things) for less than $300 was really what won my favor. Oh, that and the fact that everything looks so pulled together. I know it's not high quality furniture, but it's good looking, inexpensive, and made for small apartments like ours. We went again this weekend and picked up some random decorating things we'd been needing, such as baskets for the bottom of the Expedit-bookcase-turned-TV-console, and a rug for the living room.

These are a few of my favorite things. Today, anyway. What are your favorite things?

New Couches!

Dave and I have been talking about the possibility of buying a couch almost since we got married. The original reason was because the couch we were using was a love seat borrowed from one of Dave's brothers, and we thought he and his wife would want it back when they bought their house. So we started looking into the idea of buying a couch for ourselves.

After we had stocked our home with the essentials (like a pink Kitchen Aid mixer...priorities people!), we looked at how much money we had leftover from wedding gifts and set a budget. We started looking at couches before we needed one because I knew how long it takes me to make an opinion, especially about big purchases. We looked at Ikea and Ashley and Value City and anywhere else we could think of. No dice. 

In our search, we came across an outlet store nearby completely by chance. It carried floor models or cancelled orders at discontinued prices. We went here several times looking for gems, but had very little luck. Then, about a month ago, we came across these adorable couches in an unfortunate shade of green. 

We didn't want avocado-colored couches, and since these were sold as-is, we moved on. We went to Panera to grab supper and discuss the couches we had seen, and I said that I couldn't stop thinking about these two. They had a very similar shape to one I had fallen in love with at Pier 1 but had decided against because it was a bit out of our price range and we didn't agree on liking it enough to justify it. I told Dave that I liked them so much I was almost willing to consider the green. 

So we started our iPhone research. We looked up the couches by name and found that Morris Home Furnishings and JC Penny both carried them. Unfortunately, to get the set it was about double our budget. So, we looked for other stores that might also carry them.

We found this family-owned store called Lower Valley Furniture in Springfield that carried the brand that made these couches (Klausner). So, we went over there to check it out. When we found out that they carried it we were excited. Then they quoted us the price, and we almost fell over. It was $200 less per couch than Penny's. We were elated. At that price, we could order both couches without breaking the bank! And, we could pick them up to save on shipping (JC Penny's had a mandatory $300 shipping rate. Gross!).

So, last week we went back with our trusty furniture testers (also known as Dave's older brothers). They told us that it looked sturdy enough, and then proceeded to try out nearly every recliner in the store. At least they are easily entertained!

We got them in this color, khaki microfiber. It looks a little lighter in person. I decided to recover the pillows when we got it so that we could make them the crazy bright colors that Dave and I are both so fond of.

I'm so excited about our new couches, but I'm already impatient to get them! Since they're customizable (they had like 100 fabric options, as well as customizable pillows and legs), it will take about a month to come in. I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Little Living Room Tour

When we got married eight months ago, we moved into a little university-owned apartment. It has blue carpet in every room but the kitchen and bathroom, which have boring/nasty linoleum. The walls are all landlord-white, and the entire left wall is cinder block reminiscent of my dorm room. However, it is well kept, clean and the best price you can imagine. It's certainly a good place to live, but it was a bit of a disappointment to me after I spent the entire summer reading apartment decorating blogs.

Because I spend so much time looking at interior decorating inspiration, I have all sorts of ideas for this place. I wanted to create an entryway, a cozy living room, a comforting bedroom, an adorable office space, and a functional kitchen. We are nowhere near reaching all of these goals, but we're working on it. I've spent months scouring the internet for the perfect pieces for each area of our home.

For example, this is our entryway. The mirrors are from Ikea, at less than $20 for the pair. The adorable coat rack was found on Etsy (, also less than $20. The bench was my great-grandmother's coffee table once upon a time, and my daddy cut it down to a bench width for me, and shortened the legs (I think). He also re-stained it. I am extremely happy with the result! The mail holder is a basket made of bottle caps from Africa.

This is the view from the couch. The media center is actually two Expedit bookshelves from Ikea, the one on the bottom is laid on its side, with a square one staked on top of it. The large photo over the TV is hard to see, but it's one of our engagement pictures that I photoshoped. That's actually our newest addition, we just put it up tonight!

Here's the cinder block wall. The squares are our attempt to cover it up. They're just thin pieces of wood stapled together to make frames and covered with fat quarters (fat quarter: a piece of fabric cut to 18"x22" and sold individually; useful for quilting). The quilt on the chair was a Christmas present from my mom. I absolutely love it! She made it for us out of colors that she said "just screamed Rachel." And she's so right! Oh, and Dave likes it too. 

None of this is totally done. It may never be. But it's coming, and I'm pretty happy with the progress so far.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

me, rachel

So, I put off starting this blog because I didn't have anything interesting to say. Honestly, I still have nothing interesting to say. But I'm being "compelled" to write for a class, so here I am, in all my uninteresting glory!

Now, that is kind of misleading. I may have started writing today because of my class, but I'm actually quite thankful for being forced to start. I kept a blog last year chronicling my "adventures" planning my wedding. They weren't very adventurous, but they were honest, and they allowed far-away family members to follow the planning process. I certainly don't lead the adventurous life of a heroine of a novel, or even a supporting character in a half-baked sitcom, but I do have myself. And I like to think that I'm not quite average.

For example, I'm a student, and I'm married. My husband graduated, but I'm still working on my degree in journalism. So, he's a full-blown working adult, and I can't decide if I'm a college kid or a married woman. Makes things interesting  :-)

We live in a little two-bedroom apartment owned by the University. It's the basic rental-white, and comes with all the basic design-minded renters nightmares...dome lights, nasty blue ex-dorm carpet, forbidden painting and even a white cinder block wall (gasp!). I'd love to paint all the walls bright sunny jewel tones, but since that's not allowed, I have to get creative in other ways. Unfortunately, much of this creativity is still in my head or in little file folders on my desktop. We certainly have a few pieces that show our quirky personality, but overall we've been to busy with life to put much effort into decorating.

I'm a perfectionist and a procrastinator, which is an awful combination. I enjoy baking but hate the dishes that come afterwards. I may or may not write terribly interesting things, but I suppose I don't mind much. It's just me, rachel.