7 Quick Takes: A Slice of Life

— 1 —

Last night as Johnny and I got home from dinner, we were talking about our respective commutes (I win in the “Longer and More Complicated” category; feel free to ship a trophy).  He must have referenced “my law firm,” because as we were walking up the outside steps to our apartment, our neighbors – who were sitting on their porch smoking [hopefully tobacco] – said, “Hey, are you a lawyer?”  I don’t think we’ve formally met these neighbors yet, but there was no point in pretending that we hadn’t heard.  Johnny acknowledged that he was, in fact, a lawyer (or most of a lawyer, in any case).  “Oh…so do you do, like, criminal stuff?”  Well.  I’m kind of curious about what crimes have been committed, but the conversation pretty much stopped there since Johnny does not do “criminal stuff” and just referred them to his firm.

— 2 —

IMG_0003I’m almost done editing photos from the wedding I shot last month.  Hopefully the long weekend will give me the last big block of editing time I need, and then I can have them out in the mail to the lovely couple.  “Unfortunately,” my editing computer will be tied up tomorrow afternoon while it serves as our TV to watch…

— 3 —

Notre Dame football!  I have to admit that the off-season was a necessary recovery period after the beyond-heartbreaking Championship game, but I’m ready to get back to my fall Saturday rituals.

— 4 —

To go back to the subject of wedding photos: ours arrived the day before our cross-country move, so I haven’t had a lot of time to sit down and get acquainted with them.  I did manage to get a Facebook album put together last weekend, but I haven’t ordered any prints yet.  That won’t stop me from shamelessly padding my post with photos.

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— 5 —

For as I’ve known him, Johnny has pretty much lived off of pasta (he would literally eat it for every meal if he could).  Given that he’s genetically disposed to celiac disease, all of our friends and family (and I, most of all) have made a running joke about him being a ticking timebomb of gluten-intolerance.

Irony of ironies, last week it was me who was suddenly laid low by the very suggestion of gluten.  Yesterday I ate five animal crackers before I realized what I was doing, and that was a mistake that haunted me.  I’m hoping it’s just a temporary fluke, but in the meantime, our usual meal planning has been turned on its head.  My last grocery trip involved a lot “his and hers” groceries: flour tortillas for him, corn for me (blech); regular pasta for him, gluten-free (pictured above) for me.  Johnny was immensely skeptical of my gluten-free pasta, but once it was cooked, even he agreed that it was virtually indistinguishable from regular.  It’s nice to know there’s an acceptable option if he ever needs it, but at $3 for 12 oz, we’d have to re-work our budget on a long-term basis.

— 6 —

Johnny has been spending every evening blogging, and then I spend every morning before work editing his posts.  Last week, in honor of the wildfire burning at Yosemite, he posted a hilarious retelling of our fateful visit last summer.  One part that he didn’t mention: there was one point when we weren’t in danger of falling off a mountain, and decided to stop and walk through a meadow.  Unfortunately, Johnny brought our excursion to a quick end when he squinted into the distance and said, “Hey, is that a mountain lion?”

Still inconclusive.

Still inconclusive.

What, you can’t see it?  It’s that little blip in the very middle of the photo (maybe click to enlarge?  Or maybe we were just delusional by that point).  He tried to get me to follow him, saying, “Come on – let’s check it out!  It’s probably just a tree.”  My response was a very reasonable and definitely not-shrieking, “For the love of God, are you crazy?!  Think about how that story would look in the newspaper!”  So this photo is about as close to nature as we got that day.

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Never ever going back.

— 7 —

What’s that?  More wedding photos, you demand?  Never let it be said I left you wanting more…

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For more Quick Takes, visit Jennifer at Conversion Diary

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7 Quick Takes after a looooong hiatus

— 1 —

So, what brings me back to the ol’ blog after many moons away?  Getting married couldn’t do it, apparently, but this recipe can.  I picked up Feast on a recent library trip, and among the many recipes I bookmarked were these Baci di Ricotta (Kisses of Ricotta).  I usually shy away from deep frying anything at home, but I figured that if not on the Fourth of July, when?  Total time from pulling the bowl out to turning off the stove was about 15 minutes; it really couldn’t have been easier.  And the results – oh the results.  They were every bit as good as you’d think.  We’ll definitely be making these again.

 Italian/American

— 2 —

Lumen Fidei

Thanks to having to work today, I’m halfway through the hot-off-the-presses encyclical.  My Facebook feed has been full of quotes posted by other people, so I’m looking forward to getting to the second half.  I’ve underlined large portions, but here’s one thing that I particularly liked:

Faith by it’s very nature demands renouncing the immediate possession which sight would appear to offer; it is an invitation to turn to the source of the light, while respecting the mystery of a countenance which will unveil itself personally in it’s own good time. (13)

— 3 —

After getting my first order from Twice, I’m totally sold.  It’s like someone was paid to curate a collection of clothes from my favorite stores, and then marked them down 80%.  I got this skirt, and after the “$10 off first order” offer (click above to get it) plus a 20% off code that I found via google, I paid considerably less than the price on the page (including shipping).  I may never buy new clothes again.

— 4 —

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On a whim, I drove downtown tonight to catch some fireworks.  After many years of trying, I finally figured out how to take decent firework photos.  Unfortunately, I didn’t end up with a great view (hence the tree in the foreground), and the show itself ended up being kind of lame.  That photo above is what they passed off as the grand finale.  Color me unimpressed.

— 5 —

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Our local grocery store has been undergoing renovations for the last several months, which is probably long overdue but meant that for a long time, I literally had to go down every aisle to find what I need.  One of the big changes is the addition of bulk bins (probably in response to our new Whole Foods and its Wall of Lentils).  Chocolate covered banana chips?  Yes please.  Ginger candy for $5 a pound?  I’m there.  Of course, this is just in time for us to move across the country, but you better believe I’m stocking up before we leave.

— 6 —

Tomorrow we’re celebrating the Fourth (transferred) by hosting friends from out-of-town.  I’m looking forward to grilling, finally wearing a swimsuit I’ve owned for a full year and never worn, and relaxing a little bit.  Also, I might make another batch of ricotta mini doughnuts.  America.

— 7 —

Gratuitous wedding photo for filler!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Cabin Fever Crafting

Since 1) Ana asked for our current craft ideas, and 2) my life from now till The Blessed Event in May is pretty much nothing but crafts, and 3) there’s not much else going on for the midterm-less in South Bend in February, I present: DIY bouquets (I figured that you all know how to address envelopes, which is my other current project).

The idea of getting as much done in advance as possible led me to decide that pulling ready-made bouquets out of a box the day before the wedding would be much preferred to figuring out the assembly of fresh flowers on the same day.  It didn’t take long for me to find instructions for making flowers out of super cheap lining fabrics, so the next step (pictured here) was to make a few hundred of those.  Credit for most of that work goes to mom, who sat down with a blowtorch and Downton Abbey (I think) and made a ton of these.

After that, it was a simple – albeit tedious – matter to layer four or five petals into flowers:

Supplies

The beads are optional, but I think they give some necessary bulk and interest to the centers.  The embroidery floss does show, so I used one that looks somewhat realistic.

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Sewing front

I did a few stitches to anchor the layers, and then started adding a bead every time I went over the front.

Sewing back

To attach the flowers to the foam base (which I didn’t get any photos of, but it’s just from the floral/bridal section at Hobby Lobby), I’m using pipe cleaners.  They’re cut in thirds because I don’t need any more length than that. I put a bend into them about an inch from the end and then stitched through that.  So, beads in the front and pipe cleaner in the back.

Finished single

When the center is big enough, just wind the short end of the pipe cleaner around the base of the flower to stabilize it, and voila, easy as that!  Repeat 30 times, and you’ll still only be 2/3 done with the first bouquet:

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It’s times like this that I’m grateful to have a small wedding party!

Finished group

7 Quick Takes: A little photography

— 1 —

Earlier this week, I finally got around to putting up an About Me page on ye olde blog.  I’ve never done one before, so while I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, it’ll probably be in a state of constant tweaking for at least a little while.

— 2 —

The other day, I saw some really beautiful black and white photos – they were clearly very deliberately considered and just lovely. It made me realize that it’s been a long time since I took any black-and-whites, so I added it to the list of New Years resolutions that’s floating around in my head but to which I never actually formally committed. I had my nice camera at work this morning anyway, so I snapped some photos and actually spent some time on them. There’s just a difference in mindset when you approach a scene knowing that it’s going to end up grayscale, as opposed to shooting first and considering later. Without further ado, I present: BFA meets Limited Range of Scenery.

— 3 —

Okay, first a side note: I was the worst at coming up with names for my projects in college.  Other people could take a picture of a grape and call it “The Sublimity of Raw Beauty” or “Body of a Woman” or something, but I just couldn’t do it.  I was okay at BSing some kind of meaning into the work itself, but when it came to names, I would usually draw a blank and resort to the totally literal – “Photo of Shoe and Grass” – or the cop-out – “Untitled #4.”

— 4 —

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— 5 —

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Man, if this doesn’t inspire you to go out and buy a new camera, I don’t know what will.

— 6 —

My boss asked me to take a “management training” course this semester, and the first session was yesterday.  By the way, I feel the need to mention that this is like AP Management, not a remedial thing.  Anyway, this first session was far less of a time-waster than I expected, and I’m actually looking forward to the rest of the sessions.  This doesn’t change the fact that I hate small-group discussions, and I really hate being put on the spot.  That didn’t stop a disgustingly morning person-type from – how to put it charitably? – really getting into things (FYI, the less charitable version includes the word “brown-noser.”).  He appointed himself leader of our table and just kept calling me out to talk.  In fact, I thought it was a little weird how he kept insisting on getting my opinion while ignoring everyone else.  As the morning progressed, though, I started to wonder if he was trying to prove how non-sexist he was.

In any case, this led to an afternoon of bitter reflections about how extroverts often make introverts a “project” and try to get them to talk more.  If we flipped the situation around, it would be like the introverts telling the extroverts to just shut up for once.  Both are equally ineffective.

— 7 —

Due to a scheduling snafu, I’m going to be working all weekend.  Super excited about that.  Really, though, it’s going to be extremely quiet and I’ll probably end up getting a lot of knitting and reading done.  One of the things I didn’t finish on last year’s reading list was Lord of the Rings, so I’m actually going to do it this time.  I read it for a class sophomore year, but that was four years ago now (yikes!).  I’m really excited to get into it again.

For more Quick Takes, visit Jennifer at Conversion Diary

7 Quick Takes: Holiday Hangover Edition

Okay, not a literal hangover, but it was awfully hard to get out of bed and go to work on Wednesday morning.

— 1 —

I’ve thought for several years now that I was sensitive to wool (the constant hives from November-March were a hint, but a girl can’t live in acrylic sweaters, okay?).    I seem to have found a solution, though: $60 merino sweaters from Banana Republic.  So simple!  And so…expensive.  However, I got a great deal on two of them the day after Christmas (no more than $35 for both, and I had a gift card, so they were technically free), and I’ve never been so warm and itch-free at the same time.

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Fuzzy picture, but you can see the color. Also, yes, that is an NFP throw pillow that my mom made as a wedding shower gift.

— 2 —

Speaking of the shower, it was basically awesome.  The theme was “stock the bar,” because let’s face it – Johnny and I will buy our sheets if push comes to shove, but it’ll be a while before we splurge on a little alcohol.

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Behold, “a little” alcohol.

That’s the sum of what we got (plus the glasses and various other gifts).  There are lots of things that we’re excited to try, plus wine in every color of the rainbow.

— 3 —

I had a lengthy to-do list while I was home (because suddenly I’m getting married THIS YEAR), and Mom and I managed to tackle almost all of it.  I’m not even sure I can remember all of it, but I know that we:

  • Cut 180 labels with our wedding website printed on them into quatrefoils and stuck them to cards
  • Die-cut 180 invitations
  • Glued invitation pieces together
  • Figured out how to make envelope liners (wrapping paper!), cut, and glued 180 of them
  • Sent all of my shower thank-yous within 48 hours
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Still smiling…

— 4 —

I had been expecting that the invitations would tip the scales above the fateful 2-oz. mark beyond which the postage options are limited to schmaltzy wedding-specific stamps, but they actually came out well below.  This opened up the whole world of regular postage to us, and I had something specific in mind.  Behold:

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I knew Johnny would be psyched about it, and anything that motivates him to help stick 180 stamps on envelopes is fine with me.  I texted him with the possibility of Reagan stamps, and he replied right away, “Hell yeah!!!”  I double-checked to make sure it wouldn’t offend a huge percentage of our guest list (I’m definitely the more cautious of the two of us), and he said, “Screw ’em.  It’s our damn wedding.  They can put Obama stickers on their own invites.”  Ladies and gentlemen, complementarity.

— 5 —

Several weeks ago, I had the idea of making a tree topper in honor of the #1 college football team in the country.  All it took was a little cardboard and a screw to punch holes, and I soon had this to take home.  I was kind of expecting that tangled mess of wires to raise some TSA eyebrows, but it didn’t.  Of course, this was the South Bend airport, so I think they would have understood if they had seen it.

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It immediately got a place of honor on top of our tree, where it looked – if I may say so myself – very good.

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— 6 —

For a great article on Notre Dame football, check out this great article on page 11 of our Diocesan newspaper.  (Edited to add two more articles: This one, from the Wall Street Journal, and this from the National Catholic Register.)  As for myself, I’ll be watching the Championship game with Johnny and some friends at a local restaurant, and yes, possibly praying a little bit.  Go Irish!

— 7 —

My sister sent these to us in a Christmas package, and my gosh they were heavenly (the caramels in particular, but I won’t say no to a candy that seems to be primarily made of red wine).  I’m 99% sure she designed and made the boxes herself, too – aren’t they adorable?

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For more Quick Takes, visit Hallie at Moxie Wife!

7 Quick Takes: projects I need to finish

Between Christmas, the wedding, and my general attitude of “why pay for something I can just make?”, I’ve got a lot of ongoing and upcoming projects.  Here, as proof of my potential insanity, I present 7 of them.

— 1 —

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I never know what to expect when someone comes up to me after Mass and whispers, “Can you come back to the sacristy?  We have a problem that only a pious woman can solve.”  In the past, this has involved anything from wine-stained linens to incense spilled on the carpet (the vacuum cleaner smelled awesome for weeks, in case you were wondering).

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This beauty is currently hanging on my bedroom closet door, waiting for the clasp at the top to be resewn.  I have the thread and all the pieces, and the fix itself should only take 20 minutes or so.

— 2 —

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This may be cheating, because it’s done, but I just finished a shawl to give as an early birthday present.  I was really happy with how it turned out, and more importantly, so was the recipient (cotton yarn FTW!).

— 3 —

This freed me up to start the hat and scarf I want to make out of the Yarn of Bitterness (which is so very squooshy).  I had a false start or two on the hat, although I would’ve been set if I wanted to make a mobius hat.  It’s been ridiculously warm here so far this winter, but I know I’m going to want something more protective soon.

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— 4 —

Moving on to things I haven’t really started yet.  I’m not set on carrying a particular kind of flower for the wedding,  but I am motivated to get as many things as possible done as early as possible.  Enter the DIY fabric bouquet.  I’m hopeful that a few hours of cutting and melting should get me all the flowers I need, and then I’ll just need to figure out how to arrange them in a realistic fashion.  No sweat, right?photo 3

— 5 —

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My one and only Cyber Monday purchase was this yarn from Knit Picks.  If I haven’t mentioned my love affair with Knit Picks yet, suffice it to say that I can’t visit their website without finding something I want/need to buy (see also, Take #2).  Exhibit 2: Look at all the colors they offer in just one line:

Thanks for the link, Emily! This will definitely be my desktop background when the weather gets more dreary.

I’m going to use it on one of these for the back of the couch (in case I wasn’t convinced I was crazy before).

— 6 —

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What, you can’t tell what those two quarter yards of fabric are going to be?  It’s a queen-sized quilt, dummy.  I was merrily clicking things onto our registry when I realized that there are no good bedspreads in the world.  Everything at the Dreaded Registry Store looked like a hotel reject, and everything I found at cuter stores cost something uncomfortably close to four figures.  Self, I said, This is ridiculous.  You could do this for a fraction of the cost.  You made a quilt once.  Never mind that it was only twin sized and happened well before you dreamed of having a job.  

I found a pattern I like as well as a palette, and am currently in the fabric-gathering stage.

 

— 7 —

Christmas card 2012

Old hymn text + rustic colors + border thingys = instant Christmas

Finally, Christmas cards.  Last year I was too ambitious and never actually sent anything.  This year, I took the easy way out and designed them in Photoshop.  Now they’re actually all printed and just need a note inside (and for some people, a print of an engagement photo).  I even have the stamps already!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

250 Days

Only 250 days until those save the dates up there are obsolete.  “Only.”  That assumes, of course, that the groom-to-be survives his current Man Cold.  Yesterday: fine.  Today?  I quote:

i might not make it
  i might die
  God is punishing me for my sins
Meanwhile, I am now the proud owner of this reception-leaving dress.  Sight unseen, with about 30% certainty the it would actually fit, and it’s pretty much perfect.  Allow me to rhapsodize for a moment about the latest thing to be crossed off my To Do list.
One of the best parts of buying upscale clothing is the wrapping.  I still have the packaging from the most expensive piece of clothing I’ve ever purchased – a $95 super-formal black dress from Ann Taylor – because it came wrapped in pleated tissue paper, in a box(!), in a bag.  This dress came adorably wrapped, although not quite as cute because it was extra wrapped to protect it from the elements.
I love the designer’s name.  Em commented that a print of the tag would make a cute piece of art, and I agree. This photo gives a hint of the significant pleating that pushed this dress out of the realm of “Things I Could Make” and into “Worth $80.”
Best yet, it’s a perfect match for the shoes I already bought.  Bubble hem.  Large pockets.  Expert construction.  Zipper (not 100 buttons). 😉  Delightfully perfect.