Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Resolutions of 2011 - How'd I do?

As per my post of last year, these were some resolutions for 2011.

1.  Become more healthy, by eating better and being more active.
2.  If the above doesn't help to lose weight and slim down, then buy some shaping undergarments that will make me feel gorgeous and slender on my wedding day.
3.  Be neater around the house but putting things away more immediately after putting them down.
4.  Try harder to keep in touch with old friends who live in other cities.
5.  Try to keep the ratio of ordinary conversations to wedding conversations to an appropriate level.  I will endeavor to remember that some people truly do not care.
6.  Be more original in my cooking, and allow hubs-elect to help more.
7.  Take more photographs.
8.  To give my dogs as much love and affection as is humanly possible.
9.  To finish re-upholstering the sofa, so that I can sit on it without thinking about how much more work there is to do.
And because 10 seems like such a nice, round number: I will stop playing Angry Birds when I should be being social.

So, it seems healthy to review how I did on those points.

1.  Become more healthy, by eating better and being more active.  I did pretty well on this one.  I've let it slide a bit recently, but I am very pleased to think that I will never regret not getting in shape for the wedding.  I did, and it was awesome.  But I do need to make sure I hit the gym again more regularly.  The business is consuming my lift right now.

2.  If the above doesn't help to lose weight and slim down, then buy some shaping undergarments that will make me feel gorgeous and slender on my wedding day.  I also bought some shaping undergarments, so win-win?  The important thing I think is that after I started getting in shape, I started feeling great about myself and didn't worry about fitting into the dress (as much.)

3.  Be neater around the house but putting things away more immediately after putting them down.  Brandon might argue I have made very little progress on this one.  I believe I took steps forward...but maybe I do still leave shoes around.  However, it would help if we actually had enough storage space for all my things.

4.  Try harder to keep in touch with old friends who live in other cities.  Fail.  Very sad.  But with all the weddings etc, I did see more people than previous years.  So hopefully that keeps going.

5.  Try to keep the ratio of ordinary conversations to wedding conversations to an appropriate level.  I will endeavor to remember that some people truly do not care.  Well by default, this will get better.  No idea how well I actually did last year though.

6.  Be more original in my cooking, and allow hubs-elect to help more.  Yes!  I definitely did this, and the wedding gifts that were cooking related have greatly increased my artillery.  And case in point, Brandon made dinner tonight.

7.  Take more photographs.  Yes, but I will continue to take more.  I am also in the process of hunting down a darkroom, to go back to making prints.  This is very therapeutic for me, and will decrease the number of ranty posts I am sure.

8.  To give my dogs as much love and affection as is humanly possible.  Done.

9.  To finish re-upholstering the sofa, so that I can sit on it without thinking about how much more work there is to do.  Yes!  With Mom's help, but I am very grateful that it is finished.

10.  I will stop playing Angry Birds when I should be being social.  Ha, I haven't played Angry Birds in months.  I do of course play a ridiculous amount of MahJong.....

Next week, I'll post what I've been thinking about for next year.  Its going to be big :)

Friday, 16 December 2011

Oh, Christmas Tree

As a part of the whole married thing, I have been making an effort to document more "family" events.  So, here is us picking out the family Christmas tree, complete with 'rents.

Aw look at them bond...

and then, we decorate it!  note, my husband is 6'1.
Yeah, its a whole lot of tree.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

On foot, and underfoot

Found here.  Tokyo people - street crossing by Simone Marchetti.

I used to drive everywhere.  My next-door neighbor and I, who were close friends in highschool and did all the same afterschool activities, used to drive into school separately, only to park right next to eachother.

But now I've been a pedestrian (only) in several different international cities as an inhabitant, not a tourist, and I can safely say I would avoid driving for the rest of my life, if possible.  Since we still live in the burbs, and many of my hobbies involve moving used furniture or large homemade letterpresses around, this doesn't look like a goal attainable anytime soon, but I can dream.

What does affect me, every day right now, is the general vehicular attitude towards pedestrians in general, and also the stupid thing other pedestrians do when they're not paying attention.  For example, I am super careful never to cause a car to slow down when they have the right of way - if I go early at a crosswalk, it is because I can clearly see no one is coming, or I understand the light pattern enough that I am sure I will be able to cross safely.  This morning, I was able to cross the street before my signal, because I was paying attention and had the right timing. 

The three numbskulls behind me, however, succeeded in blocking the cars in the left turn lane (who had an advanced green) because they were too late to follow me and decided to anyway.

Le sigh.  In DC every morning, cars try to run stagnant yellows/early reds at major pedestrian crossing intersections.  Sometimes these vehicles are even city buses.  And every time, the herd of pedestrians at the crosswalk comes out at their signal, and leaves the idiot driver stranded in the intersection.  Horns blare and tempers fray, and it makes everyone's morning just a little worse.

And don't even get me started on cyclists.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Bad Apple

A little while ago, good friend of mine and I went to the Georgetown Apple store during our lunch break.  My friend was super excited to finally get her baby back - a 17.5" Mac Book Pro, with all her files on.  There had been a problem with some faulty chips, but they were going to replace them, plus the m/otherboard, for free.  Great!

So we catch the bus to Georgetown, and are both excited to be out of the office at lunch.  We stroll into the store, and one of the greeters sends us back to the "genius bar" - I find Apple so damn pretentious sometimes - and we are greeted by a surly college-aged kid, who has possibly realized that working at the Apple store over the holidays was an unwise decision.

My friend explains her computer is ready, he checks her name on the list, and explains that they have a different first name associated with the repair.  My friend clarifies that the computer was purchased by her mother, and that that would be her mother's name.  Kid replies: well do you have any ID with that name on you?  Now, logically, since she has just said this is her mother's name, A) if she did, would it be right to hand her the computer? And B) nobody carries their parents IDs around - but most of us can forge a signature on demand.

After he decides he can accept her word (and own ID) that yes, it is her computer, he trundles off to the back to get it.  He brings it out to us at the counter, pushes it towards her asking her to turn it on and check to make sure its ok, and then pulls out the invoice, which says Balance Due $982.16 at the bottom.  He then says, "there appears to be a thing here."  When we look at him blankly, he clarifies: "there appears to be a thing associated with the repair." My friend exceedingly politely points to instructions on the invoice that indicate she is not to be changed for the repair.  Kid is very flustered, tells us he has to speak to a manager, and snatches up the computer and walks away.  My friend has not even have the chance yet to verify the computer works, and this kid brings it with him like she's going to steal it?  And then he keeps leaving it in random places around the store, so we feel obligated to watch him to make sure noone else decides they'd like to steal it.

After 10 minutes of this nonsense, he brings back the computer, plus the old invoice with a receipt stapled to the back.  Again gives her the computer, and the invoice, and asks her to sign at the bottom.  This makes me very nervous, as the invoice still says $982.16 at the bottom, so I flip it over to check out what it says on the random receipt.  And the receipt on the back has a large voided item for the repair, but the balance due is still $10.
So we ask him about it.  Our conversation:

Us: What is this receipt?  Why is there still a balance due?
Him: Don't worry about it.
Us: Umm, no really what is this $10 about?
Him, now angry:  I said, don't worry about it.  It's for me.

At this point, my friend has still not managed to turn on the computer, but she has signed the invoice, so he snatches it away and puts it into a filing cabinet into the wall.  We stare at eachother, a bit stunned, and watch this guy just saunter away.  At which point we flag down the nearest staffmember and ask if they have a form we can fill out to give customer satisfaction feedback.

That produced immediate effect, but only on the two staffmembers who had been near us but not helping us...to their credit, they jumped on the fact that we were clearly unhappy and did their best to offer anything they could think of to deter us from sending the manager negative feedback.

But the piece de resistance: Chris becomes aware of the hubub, and comes over to have an additional conversation with my friend.  You would think this would be to make an effort to apologize.  You would be wrong.

Chris:  The $10 on the receipt is because I am only allowed to void 99% of a line item cost.  So I had the $10 leftover.
My friend:  Thank you - but you didn't have to be quite so rude about it before.
Chris: I wasn't being rude.
My friend: You definitely were.
Chris (the rest of this conversation is approximate, but he truly uttered these exact words):  Well whatever, I don't care.  We're worth like billions of dollars.

At which point he walked away, and my friend penned a brilliant letter of complaint to his manager that wasn't nearly as harsh as the one I would have written.

I have no words/typing of random letters to explain the indignant noises both of us were making on the bus back to our office, but we must have a sounded like a pair of drunk hippos.

But if you ever go to the Apple store in Georgetown, try to steer clear of Chris, because he will do his best to ruin your day.  Or at least your lunch break.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011


I'm excited to announce that Lizzie and Isaiah of Love Your Way are hosting a giveaway over on their blog for my stationery store, Ribbons&Bluebirds.  Check it out here.  You can visit the blog for the shop, with more stationery-focused entries, over here.

We are offering everyone 10% off in the Etsy shop until the end of 2011, so head on over to the shop to check it out!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Thanksgiving in the Cleve

This post will not begin with excuses for why I haven't been posting.  Mostly because my excuses are lame.

So:  Cleveland.  Scenic delightful city, where my sister lives.  And in the city?  The delightful West Side Market.  A smattering.

I love this expression.  It's probably why I married him.

I hope everyone had a delightful Thanksgiving!  Hopefully I'll have more to share later this week :)  And also maybe some of those recipes I promised...

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Onwards and Upwards, or at least Sideways.

Reagan Airport, on our way home from my dear friend's wedding last month.
I've been neglecting the blog again.  And its not for lack of things to say: I often find myself composing a post in my head on my way to work, or on my way home from work, and they just never make it into a computer.  But I have been busy doing other things.

I am still getting over the shock of the wedding.  It feels weird to say it in that way, but sometimes that's what it feels like to me.  You don't enter into something this huge, this permanent, this connected to your daily happiness, without some sense of awe and nervousness, I think, unless you're either seriously confident (in which case, go you!) or not taking it seriously enough.  But I am starting to settle into a routine, getting used to calling him my husband, getting used to the idea that I have taken the next step towards the future we have together.

I've also been really busy doing what I do best: making life complicated for myself.  I can never just take things at face value, accept them as they are.  Something has to be tweaked, "oh I could design something I like more than that" and then I'm left with 50 extra hours of work and a completely bewildered husband.  I cam home yesterday from my 13 hours of work, and immediately sat down at the computer to work on the christmas gift for my parents.  And he looks at me and goes, "Are you crazy?!?  Can't you relax a little?"  And the answer, mostly, is no.  Because what I like to do, what I really like to do, is make things, and design things, and design things better and remake them.  And that keeps me happy, and keeps me grounded after a 13 hr work day, part of what is going to be 19 straight days in the office working overtime every one of them.  Even the part where I took a break last Saturday and had some margs with the book club.

But this post isn't so much about all that because you all know me a little by now (hi 2 friends who read my blog! :) )  This post is about the good stuff that's coming, because of course its coming.  I've been sitting around not writing for 2 months, but that doesn't mean I haven't actually been doing anything.

  • Letterpress Christmas cards are in the works.  I am encountering technical difficulties that I will beat into submission in my usual fashion.  When I stop working so much overtime I might even have time to accomplish this
  • I might share some more photos from my wedding.  Because, you know, it was kindof a big deal to me.  And the shoes were only a small portion of that.
  • Tutorials!  I'll probably blather on about some wedding related paper goods, but I am also going to share with you my poorly-sewn-but-still-cool clutch bags, which I made for the bridesmaids but that you could easily make as Christmas gifts.
  • Food.  As per usual, the holiday season is going to be full of food for me, and this time, I'm not on bridal bootcamp diet.  I will be sharing recipes for mulled wine, some family tradition Christmas cooked, and I'll keep you posted on how the turkey-brining goes at Thanksgiving.
I'm sure there's more stuff too, and probably some whining, but I can't predict what that will be about.  So!  Hope everyone is doing well, and hopefully I'll see ya next week sometime.  Because right now, I need to go detail the crap out of a multi-million dollar renovation project.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Small business what?

I've been under a lot of stress recently, all of my own making.  Setting up a business sounds great...and then, you get to the pricing part.

I have been reading some great stuff recently about "name your own price" promotions, and how that worked out for another stationery/paper goods graphic designer.  And I completely agree with what's at the heart of the experiment:  what value does my work actually have to the consumer?  And of course there's the difficult notion that its still all in my head:  I have no idea what my stuff is worth to an actual consumer, because, um, I haven't listed anything as for sale?  Because then I would have to set a price.

I do have a history of selling myself short.  Not always, not every time, but in the grand scheme of things, I want to be liked more than I want to be wealthy apparently.  But what do I care what some random person on the internet thinks of me?  It's not like they'll ever meet me, and if they happen to know me (like they're reading this blog, for example) and they think my prices are not well aligned then...maybe they wont read my blog anymore?  Maybe they wont want to be friends anymore?  Or maybe...they just wont buy any paper goods from me.  And that has to be ok, I think.

Its been really scary to me to put a hard price on something, and I don't even have to look someone in the eye when I do it.  I just put the number out there on the internet, and wait to see if anyone bites.  If no one does, does that mean my stuff is no good, or no one can find me, or that my prices are too high?

My dad keeps telling me that I can't afford to do this at cost, and I know he's right.  I can't afford to do this at cost.  But what I haven't figured out yet is whether I can afford to charge what I need to to justify my time and energy.  And I think the hard thing for me to accept is that quite possibly, the answer will be no.  And if that's the case, it has to be ok too.  I'll always have something to fall back on. Like maybe my professional degree.  Or furniture.

Anyone want to buy this chair? :)

Art Nouveau side chair.  That's right, I made this.  And then I taught myself how to upholster, and upholstered it too.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Bathroom stupidity

They recently renovated (and are still in process of renovating) the bathrooms in my office building.  While the bathrooms of the floor above us was under construction, we had to deal with all the ladies from that floor coming down to use our bathroom.  My company occupies our entire floor of this building - we are one of only a few in the whole building - and as such, I know all 8 ladies who use our bathroom on a normal basis, because they are all my coworkers.  We are a relatively clean bunch, and polite about our bathroom usage.

THE LADIES WHO WORK UPSTAIRS ARE SLOBS.  They trashed our poor bathroom daily. Toilet paper scraps suddenly littered the floor, and other thing I do not care to mention on the internet.  When they finally finished renovating the bathroom upstairs, we all thought we could now enjoy our quiet bathroom in peace.

We were wrong.  They immediately decided that our bathroom was next, and we were sent upstairs to check out what we had been suffering for.  At first glance, looks pretty nice: faux-stone tile, decent looking finishes on the counters and taps, clean lines etc.  BUT.

The first thing that greets you when you walk into this bathroom is a beautiful tall/narrow niche that in a classier establishment would hold an elegant and minimal orchid with a single blossom, but in ours holds....a tissue box. No matter how many times I move the box onto the counter, where it looks less like we revere the gods of Kleenex, someone puts it back in the damn niche.

Next pet peeve:  every mirror in the whole bathroom is warped.  And because the room features no fewer than 3 wall to wall or floor to ceiling mirrors, its like being in a funhouse, all the time.  On the plus side, I now know what my shoes look like with my outfit without guessing.

The room is laid out in such a way that there is a room with counters etc, which is nice for just straightening out your hair (or doing your makeup like some high maintenance chick in one of the lawyer's offices EVERY morning), which leads to the actual business part of the bathroom.  there is a pinch point between the two rooms.  What did they put in this pinch point?  The paper-towel dispenser.  That every single person who uses the bathroom will stop IN THE GAP to use.  Effectively preventing anyone else from using the bathroom while you dry your hands.

Lastly, and my personal favorite, the automatic everything in this bathroom consistently malfunctions.  SO not only does the sink run sporadically throughout the day, but the toilets flush whenever they feel like it, and the lights also turn off at will.  Basically, the bathroom is haunted.  They spent weeks and thousands of dollars on a bathroom that makes me want to murder someone every time I use it.

They should finish renovating our floor in a few weeks.  Can't wait.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Remember when I mentioned some renovation on the 4th of July?

Well I finally had the chance to take some photos of the results!  So, here we go:

Le kitchen before:

Slightly outdated.  Just a bit.


Step 1: strip the wallpaper.  shoot me in the face.

Lisa, its time to buy some new shorts. Note the beers (ciders) on the kitchen table. 

Step 2: paint the base colour.  check.

Step 3: tape the trim.  ugh.

Step 4: Paint the trim.  Ideally, make your future husband do this while you make an upholstered headboard in the other room.

Women using power tools is empowering.  Step 5: cut the tile for the ridiculously complicated pattern you allowed your dad to pick out for the tile.

Oh, did I mention that for the entire 4 days of this enterprise, THE AIR CONDITIONING WAS BROKEN?!?!?!?!  ON FOURTH OF JULY WEEKEND IN 100 DEGREE WEATHER?  YEAH.  By day 4 I was pretty much naked.  And learning how to tile, while tiling.

But you know you want my neon sports bra.

And now, the after:  As of yesterday:

Renovation complete with Boris!  Hi puppy :)

My mom bought this fabric in Provence years ago (we went when I was 14.)  We have finally got the chairs recovered, to complete the blue-white-yellow kitchen look she was going for.

Lessons learned: tiling on the diagonal is no joke.  Also, if you're going to commit to a project like this, even if you have a four day weekend, have at minimum your sister and future husband with you.  Even then, you may not finish.

But in the end?  Worth it.  And when we get those cabinet doors replaced, this kitchen will be fully made over, and ready when my parents want to make their move.