Monday, February 28, 2011


I was sick all weekend. Being sick over the weekend is the worst. I went to the doctor on Friday though and found out I have acute bronchitis, so I don't feel quite as silly for complaining when I thought it was just a cold.

I found out my neighbor has bronchitis too. We are both having halucinations from it. My new idea is for us to make a public service announcement together in which we look at the camera and tell kids, "Don't do drugs. If you want to get high, let us cough in your face and you'll have all the hallucinations you want without fear of overdose." I tell you what, this idea was hilarious to me during the middle of a coughing fit at 2:00 in the morning. Lack of oxygen to the brain much?

Saturday I was supposed to have lunch with a couple of girlfriends, but I had to cancel because I didn't think they'd appreciate me coughing all over their salads. I did go to a Salt N' Pepa concert Saturday night though, because the tickets were non-refundable, I didn't think my coughing would disturb anyone at a loud hip hop concert, and seeing Salt N' Pepa fufilled a sixth grade dream of mine. I felt like crap, but it was actually a really good show.

On Sunday, I forced myself to stay awake for the Academy Awards. Let's just say I was underwhelmed and I hope that next year they go back to the format of having a comedian hosting. It was just plain boring. Seriously.

Chuk knows how much I love award shows and tries to help me celebrate it. I think it's his way of saying thank you for all the football parties I throw for him. Last night he made OSCAR Meyer hot dogs for dinner and bought me STARburst candy to snack on during the show. (I know sugar is bad for me when I'm sick. I only ate two. I'm a model of self restraint.) He also made me a cake decorated with a star and an Oscar statuette.

When I first saw the cake all I could do was burst out laughing. My husband is good at a great many things. In fact, in the five plus years I've known him the only thing I've ever seen him do poorly is frosting. He is the worst cake and cupcake froster in the world. He knows how bad he is at it and he tried anyway, which I LOVE. It's so cute. I can imagine him as a four year old. A for effort.

Last weekend, we stayed with my in-laws because Chuk's oldest friend was visiting her mother and he wanted to see her while she was in the area. She lives in New Zealand and is a deaf interpreter. Awesome, no? In addition to hanging with his friend we got to spend some time with our niece who is an absolute delight.

I love it when she holds my hand. So cute!

Baby eats ice cream.

We also spent time walking around historic Smithfield, Virginia, which is best known for its hams, but should be known for its super-cute historic homes. Look! Pretty!

And that's how I spent the last two weekends. The end.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Short Week that Feels Long

After a great weekend, it's been one of those weeks. I've been mad at my husband since Tuesday, have the worst cold ever (for the record, "cold" doesn't seem to be an adequate word to describe my misery), and my computer totally and completely died last night which has forced me to share a computer with the aforementioned husband. Sharing is never fun, but it's even less fun when you're already arguing. One of my favorite quotes is one from Lily Tomlin who said, "Things are going to get a lot worse before they get worse." Isn't that the truth? When it rains it pours.

Because I'm in a lousy mood, let's listen to happy songs that make me feel upbeat.

Obviously, I like songs with a strong beat that you can dance to with bonus points for songs by or about weirdos. What songs make you happy? I need all the suggestions I can get.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Good Deal Alert

The Living Social deal today is 52 issues of Newsweek for $17. A one year subscription is normally $39, so the discount is significant. I think this would be a great gift for that hard to shop for person in your life...I'm looking at you Father's Day and grandparents' birthdays.

The above is a referral link, if three of you sign up using it, I will get the subscription for free.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Are You Freaking Kidding Me: Babies

Our other friends had a baby this week too! Say hello to little Diana. She brings the total to four couple friends who have had babies in the last five months...and we have another one pregnant too. Plus, we spent the long weekend with my precious niece.

It's all making my uterus hurt. Why do babies have to be so freaking cute?

Edited to add: I just found out I have yet another friend who is pregnant. I'm officially jealous, but don't tell anyone.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Stork Delivery

Look what our dear friends got last night! We can't meet her for another three weeks, but I am so looking forward to it. Welcome to the world sweet Callie.

Containing Clutter

I love using origami boxes to organize my drawers. They're easy to make and free. I came across a product this week that inspired me to use this same technique to make catch-all boxes for our dressers and desks.

My local craft store was selling birch paper. I thought it was beautiful and knew I could use it for something. We always need little places to throw keys and change and other miscellany from our pockets. Because this is real wood, it looks good enough to keep out. Because it is paper, it can be manipulated.

I used this video to help me remember how to make a box. The birch paper is thick and it's difficult to work with. If it's your first time making an origami box, I suggest you practice it with scrap paper before using your decorative paper.

I'm always taking of my jewelry off in the evening while I'm on the computer, so this baby is going on my desk to catch my earrings and whatever else I'm mindlessly dropping. I have another piece of the birch paper I'm going to use to make a box for Chuk's dresser that he can use as a valet for his watch, ID badge and change.

Linking to How To's Day.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Celebrating Valentine's Day

I don't know how you feel about Valentine's Day. There seems to be two basic camps: the it's a commercial holiday and we should express how we feel everyday camp and the go all out camp. I'm somewhere in the middle. I do think it's overly commercial, but on the other hand, if I'm honest, I don't do a good enough job letting the people I love know how much they mean to me on a daily basis. I like having one day devoted to making them feel special.

Because we're trying to be budget conscious this year, Chuk and I agreed to make gifts for each other. We currently don't have a headboard on our bed and Chuk is always complaining because he's a pillow smusher and his pillow falls between the bed and the wall while he's sleeping. I decided to make him a bolster pillow that he could use to cover the gap.

I got a cheap bolster from TJ Maxx because it was less expensive than a pillow form and fabric I knew he would love from Etsy. My sewing skills are still majorly lacking, but the pillow looks OK from a distance.

I also made him a toothbrush holder because he didn't have one and it grosses me out when he just throws his toothbrush in his toiletries bag when we're traveling.

Both of these projects took me forever and made me realize I need to invest in a seam ripper. I'm trying to be patient with myself as I learn though.

Chuk came home on Monday with tulips and chocolate covered cherries from Trader Joe's. He also made me a crossword puzzle full of clues from our life. He is seriously talented. Do you know how hard it is to make a crossword puzzle?

His main present to me though was a movie he made from video and pictures from all our years together. It was so awesome. I thought about posting it here, but I'm still trying to keep this blog mostly anonymous so I'm not going to.

We went out to dinner in Old Town using a gift certificate. If you haven't checked them out yet, you should. (I'm not being compensated to say that.) I never pay more than $2 for a $25 gift certificate. The only catch is that you usually have to use the certificate on a purchase of $35 or more. Still, you're only paying $12 for $35 worth of food, plus tax and tip. We don't go out to eat very much, but when we do, this makes it a lot more affordable.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cheap Valentine's Day Decorations

Because I live in a small space, I can't keep a lot of holiday decorations. I have a plastic bin with all my Christmas ornaments and decorations and if I want to decorate for any other holidays, I have to make it work with items I already have around the apartment.

I'm still resisting buying flowers for my dining room table, which is encouraging me to be more creative with my centerpieces. After Christmas, I bought red and ivory candles from Target for 75% off. I've been burning the ivory candles since then, but I pulled out the red candles and some white candles I had from Ikea and arranged them on a silver tray I use for serving food. Candles are instant romance, so I think it's a great, cheap centerpiece for Valentine's Day.

Except for my magnetic grocery list, I keep the front of my fridge clean. I have these alphabet letter that I often use to write little messages to guests or Chuk, which I think is fun and quirky. I used the letter to spell out some seasonal words and phrases. (I know I spelled Valentine's wrong; I've since fixed it, but I didn't want to bother taking another picture.)

Our first Valentine's Day together, Chuk was playing around with some conversation hearts and made up a stream-of-conscience poem from them. I loved it so much I framed it in a shadow box. I have it on our living room bookshelf year round, but I pulled it out and put it on our kitchen counter so it was more noticeable.

On the chalkboard on my kitchen wall, I simply drew a bunch of amateurish hearts. This is my home, not a showplace, so I always try to keep in mind "it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful".

When I bought the 75% off candles at Target after Christmas, I also bought a bunch of bags of red and green peanut M&Ms that were also 75% off.

I separated the red and green M&Ms by color. The bags were only about 1/3 red M&Ms so it looked a little stingy in the vase (saved from my wedding.)

I put half of the green candies in a baggie at the bottom of the base and then put the red M&Ms on top of them so they looked more plentiful.

I decorated the coffee table with the vase of M&Ms, a pink candle I already had, and a heart shaped dish I already had, too. The mints on the dish were leftover from my Gingerbread House Party.

Decorating the main area of my apartment (the open living room, dining area, and kitchen) took about twenty minutes and cost maybe $5 for the discounted candy and candles. Even though it was easy, it made things look really festive, which helped make the day special which was important to me since we were keeping Valentine's Day low-key this year for financial reasons.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Super Bowl XLV Party

We had our sixth annual Super Bowl party last Sunday and I think it was one of our best ever.

We crammed eleven people (twelve if you count a baby) into our tiny apartment. It was cramped, but cozy.

Our team didn't win, but it wasn't for lack of spirit. (Can you find my cat in the picture above?)

Chuk got a bunch of Steelers paraphernalia from his aunt as a wedding present, which was totally random. It's been sitting in our basement for nearly two years, but it came in handy for the party. We had Steelers coasters, clappers, a rug, a blanket, and three Terrible Towels.

I almost forgot to mention the FOUR different kinds of Steelers glasses.

We got this football cooler for a couple of bucks online several years ago. Even I, the non-sports fan, think this is really fun. And because it's inflatable, it's easy to store, unlike all our other football stuff.

I got the football plates and napkins at the grocery store for 75% off at the end of the last football season. Normally, I don't do disposable, but I don't have enough plates or cloth napkins for eleven people. Sometimes you just have to compromise.

We served meatball subs on ciabatta rolls, chips and onion dip and football-shaped donuts. The football donuts are a tradition for us. We get them from Krispy Kreme every year. Guests brought veggies and hummus, and chips and salsa to round out the meal.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cultured Date Night

Date night came a day early this week. Dinner at a Pakistani restaurant followed by Giselle at the Kennedy Center, performed by the Mariinsky Ballet, AKA the Kirov Ballet. Chuk got me the ballet tickets for Christmas. I love ballet.

On our honeymoon we saw the Mariinsky Ballet in their home theater in St. Petersburg do a bizarre version of Swan Lake, in which the swan lived. They performed Giselle in the traditional way though.

View of the stage from my seat during intermission.

Lest I become too cultured tonight with my international food and performing arts, I'm off to watch Jersey Shore. What can I say? I love me some ballet and JWOWW. I'm a complex individual.

Sofa Fabric

Yay! I'm so glad you all approve of my fabric choice. Here's a little more information on it. I got it at Ikea for $2.99/yard. (Actually, I got the first 4.75 yards at $1/yard because they rang it up wrong and I didn't realize until later.) Unfortunately, I don't see it on the website anymore, so maybe that's why it was on sale.

It does have a kind of canvas feel to it and it's reversible so I didn't have to worry about a "wrong side" when I was sewing. The thin stripes look black in the pictures but are navy blue, so it matches the navy accessories I already had in the room. I was a little nervous about sewing stripes because I didn't want them to be wavy, but the stripes actually helped me sew a straight line, so it was a good thing.

For the record, I had my sewing machine for over a year before I ever attempted to sew anything. I was totally scared too, but now I'm loving it. If your fear is holding your back, I say go for it anyway. Other than threading the machine and bobbin, it's totally not as hard as you think.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Easy Slipcover for People Who Don't Know How to Sew

I want a new couch. I love my couch and have major sentimental attachments to it, but it’s showing its age. It’s faded and stained and looks more shabby than chic these days. The reality is we’re not getting a new couch any time soon. Have you priced those suckers lately? The good ones are not cheap and the cheap ones are not good.

So like anyone who reads too many home d├ęcor blogs and watches a lot of HGTV, I thought, “I’ll just slipcover it.” I’m smart, no? Yeah, except the only time in my life I’ve ever used a sewing machine was in seventh grade home ec. class where I made a lumpy stuffed duck and broke the sewing machine in the process. That was the lowest grade I had ever gotten in a class until I got to college.

So if you’re adventurous and/or stupid a great first sewing project is slipcovering your sofa. Because I have no sewing skills, I invented a process for how to do this and then proceeded to think about it for two months before actually attempting it. To my surprise, it wasn’t THAT hard and looks ok.

Basically, I made giant pillowcases for the cushions. I laid the fabric out on the floor and cut a piece big enough to cover it with very little overlap.

Then I folded the fabric in half and pinned the side opposite the fold and an adjacent side. So now one side was folded, two sides were pinned together, and one side was open.

Sew along the two pinned sides. It’s two straight stitches in an L-shape, so it isn’t very hard. The longest part of this process for me was watching the instructional DVD that came with my sewing machine on how to thread my machine. After seeing like 22 times, I got it threaded.

I put the cushion inside its new slipcover to make sure it fit. It did, but the slipcover is inside out, so I had to turn it right side out and pop the cushion back in. When I put the cushion back on the couch I simply folded the extra fabric under the cushion so you can’t tell it isn’t fitted. This was necessary for me because I didn’t feel quite ready to take on a zipper yet.

It probably would look more professional with more seaming and piping, but given my skill level, I’m happy with it. Now to cover the body of the couch. Eek! Stay tuned.

I'm linking to Anti-Procrastination Tuesday and How To's Day.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sweet Song for February

I saw a father-daughter duo singing this song on Ellen, which was super cute. It prompted me to look up the original artists. They are also super cute. There's just something about hippies jumping around that makes me happy on a Monday morning. Besides, they seem so earnestly in love which seems very appropriate to me in these days leading up to Valentine's Day.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Public Service Announcement: Barnes and Noble

If you are a bookworm or working towards a $100 holiday, today's Washington DC groupon might be for you. With it, you can get $20 worth of merchandise for $10 at Barnes & Noble. You can buy the Groupon for the next three days and the gift code is good for online and in-store purchases until April 11.

I have no affiliation with Barnes & Noble (in fact I won't be purchasing this deal because the library is even cheaper than this) or with Groupon, but I have used Groupon before and found the service to be easy to use.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Steelers' Fan

Get it? Get it? Get it? It's my husband's joke. He loves puns...and the Steelers. We have a Super Bowl party every year (this is our sixth!), but they're always extra special when the Steelers are playing.

This year, I'm changing things up by making a few decorations. Not many, and nothing hard, but this has been a tough week for Chuk at work and he has to work on Saturday, so I really want him to be able to let his hair down on Sunday.

To make the streamers, I took a piece of construction paper and cut it in half vertically. Then folded each piece vertically.

Keeping it folded, I drew short lines across the paper. These should be about half to one inch apart. I used the side of a deck of cards to measure and trace. It doesn't really matter. This is not an exacting project.

My hand looks totally deformed in this picture.

Next, keeping the paper folded, I cut along the lines until I was about a quarter inch from the edge. Then cut the next line from the opposite direction, again, not cutting all the way to the edge.

For instance, first cut the folded side almost all the way to the open side. For the next line, cut from the open side across the paper towards the folded side. Does this make sense? In the picture above I'm spreading apart the paper to try and demonstrate where I cut.

Using your lines, cut down the whole length of the paper, alternating sides.

Unfold the paper. Here if you stretch it apart a little, you'll see it looks like streamers. Continue folding and cutting until you get the length you want. This makes me feel productive while I'm sick and watching TV.

Hello Mr. Hangnail

To attach them together, I just place one segment on top of another and staple them together.

It would probably look better if you attached them with double sided tape, but I was almost out of tape so I used staples. No biggie. They're really not noticeable once you get them hung up.

I'm probably going to make two more streamers for my fan since it's looking a little bare in places. It only took me one and a half pieces of paper for each of the streamers above, so this craft is as cheap as it is easy.

Just like yo' momma. Get it? Get it? (Am I the only person here old enough to remember yo' momma jokes?)