Friday, January 30, 2009

Blanketed in frustration

As part of a service project started by one of my favorite gals, Julie, we made blankets to go on top of incubators in the NICU to create a dark, calm atmosphere for those babies that should still be inside their mothers' wombs. Julie thought of this idea while searching for a gift to give the nurses who had taken care of her baby, Bronco, while he spent a couple of months in the NICU. Brilliant gift, right? Julie is now on a sort of blanket crusade, so if you would like to donate, comment, call or e-mail me and we can figure out how you could help or maybe even start your own blanket crusade for the NICU in your area.

Above are some of the blankets I made. Can you believe that JoAnn carries this fabulous flannel? I cannot get over these prints and I got them all for 50 percent off! Mi madre gave me a sewing machine for graduation (she's the best) a few years back and I am loving the little stiches that it creates.
I found this to be so rewarding that I decided to make my neighbor a blanket for her little darling Anna. This, however, has been far from rewarding. The two different fabrics that I chose were very difficult to line up. I spent at least an hour just trying to fuse these two rectangles together. The outcome: yeah, not exactly rectangular.
Then I got daring and decided to stitch the name Anna all around the blanket, with hearts in between. I programmed it into my machine then, armed with tomato red thread, I stepped on it. And then something flew up and hit me in the forehead. After a confused minute, I realized it was the tip of my needle. I noticed that the needle had hit the presser foot and broken. I cursed, turned the machine off, put my last needle (yeah, I break them all of the time) in the machine, turned it back on, reprogrammed the sequence back in and started again. After only three stitches, the needle broke again!
So there is no cute stitch and I can't finish my blanket. I don't even know what I did wrong.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Dark chocolate chex mix + grilled cheese

Sometimes, when I'm too lazy to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I eat this:
and this:for lunch.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

An elemental twist from the weather gods

Utah is not only famous for its off-the-charts birth rate and number of wives per capita ;-). The land of Industry - and Mormons - also prides itself as having "the greatest snow on Earth." Utah doesn't get much more snow than all other cold-weather states. The consistency of the white stuff is what sets Utah snow apart.

During certain snowstorms the flakes are so dry that they don't stick to one another once they fall. You may try for hours to make a snowball out of this snow but you will be unsuccessful because the feathery stuff doesn't pack. It is called "powder" for obvious reasons, and makes for a floating experience while skiing and snowboarding. Other Utah snowstorms offer packable snow - good for snowmen and snowballs. It's the kind of stuff the farmer prays for each winter so he will have water the next summer.

Virginia is not known for snow at all. When there are "snow" storms out here, an icy substance mixed with frigid rain falls from the sky, hits the cold ground, turns all hard surfaces into instance skating rinks and weighs down trees enough to make them lethal. The first winter we were here, I remember thinking it was strange when meteorologists warned people to stay away from the trees. The freezing rain closes everything down and makes the top story on the news for the next week.

Last week, in what meteorologists called a rare occurence, Northern Utah experienced freezing rain, creating vehicular chaos on the streets.

And today, I walked outside and the crunch under my shoe took me back to college, wading through the snow across Utah State University's campus. It is most definitely not powder, but I can almost classify it as Utah snow. It packs nicely without getting your gloves too wet. The flakes flutter down to the ground lazily and it's not slippery when you step on it...

...that is until tonight, when, forecasters say, it's going to be freezing rain.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dazzling in the rough

We have all seen a business/restaurant/establishment that looks less than appealing/clean/upstanding, located near a topless bar/7-eleven/Ethiopian restaurant and we have all wondered "who keeps them in business?"

When I first saw Dazzle Salon: Issa for Hair, I believed those customers might just come from the strip club only a block away. Its large vertical sign, name that doesn't quite translate into English correctly and stained, two-toned brick exterior might indicate why.

So when I asked a stranger where she got her fabulous haircut and she replied, "Dazzle Salon on 23rd," I laughed out loud.
And then I booked an appointment.

To be honest, there is nothing more exciting to me than finding a diamond in the rough, a tiny, ethnic restaurant with delicious eats (that stay in your body for more than an hour), a dirty little thrift shop with amazing steals - you get the picture.

So I arrived at my appointment Saturday to pistachio ice cream-colored walls with frizzy-80s-hair posters blanketing them; and a balding, middle-aged man trimming the mustache on another balding, middle-aged man; and a tiny Asian woman who beckoned me to join her at the sink. The next thing I knew, she was standing on her tiptoes, thoroughly (shredding up my scalp with those fingernails) shampooing my hair. She finished, rustled my hair with a towel, then proceeded to clean my ears out with that towel. I'm not making this up. She basically gave me a wet willy at least three times in both ears, only with a towel. I giggled a little bit, then felt sick to my stomach and began to devise an exit plan, a scheme to tell these people that I had only come for a nice, invigorating shampoo - not a cut.

But, with a bright smile, that tiny lady nearly picked me up off the reclining chair and guided me over to the man who I now know as Issa. He just stood there in silence so I took my cue and told him what I wanted - really thinned out tresses with hardly anything taken off the length. With a thick accent (Middle Eastern, I'm guessing) he said, "You have beautiful hair," then his scissors feasted on it. The first tuft of hair that landed in my lap was 2 inches and I knew, at once, that my hair would not be the same length when Issa finished. He rifled through my hair with these amazing scissors that took large sections out, thinning out the lower layers, and I began to feel really good about my decision to stay. He blow-dried, and I was out of there in 35 minutes flat.

I ended up with a coiffure a la Michelle Obama - you know, curled under just so, with loads of volume. So I straightened it. And I really like it. Dazzle Salon: Issa for Hair can now count me as a customer.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Like in a fairytale

I loved the organized pink peonies and roses, green hydrangea and white calla lilies at my wedding... but if I had to do it all over again soon, I would want my flowers to look like this:

Tangled bunches of bright ranunculas everywhere you look.
Like in a fairytale.

Photos from Design Sponge

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Thanks to my friend Valerie, who alerted me of this giveaway, I got a couple of free body washes and free mascara yesterday at Nordstrom and Macy's. Sadly, the Chanel lotion was all gone when I got there, but I made off with some pretty sweet stuff after signing my name on something about a class-action lawsuit(?). Yeah, not really sure what I signed but I'm happy about my free cosmetics.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A presidential kind of weekend

I may have spent Inauguration Day in my warm pajamas on the couch, but that doesn't mean I didn't get any face time with some former POTUSes and the current leader of our free world over the weekend.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Warming up my cold month

My mum is coming today! I think she knows I hate January.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Two points for January

I woke up to a sour-smelling apartment this morning. Seems I tipped over the vinegar under my sink last night. The lid was slightly ajar and the rest is pungent history. So I'm spending my time as far from the kitchen as possible, in my bedroom. I'm sitting here staring at my unmade bed, my floor obscured by clothing and several projects beckoning on the dresser. And I just feel like sitting here. I'm not so sure if I should blame it all on my natural ability to sit on my butt happily, because I'm not really today. But I'm OK with blaming January.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Modern nature

I found this Charlie Harper memory game at Old Navy a few weeks ago but decided to wait until it went on sale to buy it. It is still not on sale, but I could not wait and ended up at Old Navy today to get one anyway.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Another blow to January

So unfortunately, I am having a tough time stretching out my truffles this January (it's a dark and dreary one). There are only two left, and Ali and Valerie already spoke for them. Luckily, I found something else to sustain me: a 5 lb. bag of Clementine oranges. I had at least ten little oranges yesterday and I am already on my fourth one today. They may not be chocolate, but they are easy to peal and quite juicy.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Fabric fallback plan

OK, so obviously I have more than an obsession with animals on fabric. I found these Japanese textiles on awhile back and think they are fabulous. They are expensive and still not exactly what I am looking for. But aren't they great?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Take that, January

Align LeftOh January. You take our lights and scents and parties away and you make us all go back to the office or the classroom or the lonely life as a housewife :0). You, with your frigid presence and your high expectations. You force us to make new goals, then you laugh at them and coerce us to just sit there on our newly-plump butts and surf the Web in our once-festive, but now-gloomy homes. You offer nothing to celebrate.

So how do I survive you, you month-long emotional leech?

See's truffles. My mom always sends a box and I find a way to stretch them out at least halfway through the month. They give me a little bit of therapy each day.

Take that, January!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

2008 discoveries that I will continue to obsess with through 2009

America elected its first black president, Michael Phelps won eight gold medals in the Olympics and the world was nearly destroyed ;) by the Large Hadron Collider's re-creation of the big boom. Oh, and Madonna and Guy Ritchie got a divorce. My, my, the year 2008 has been an exciting one.

On a much smaller scale, my year 2008 has also been a lot of fun. And I have happened upon some really cool stuff. Here I list a few of the things I have become addicted to in 2008:

1. Sia

I am far from a music expert. I don't have the words to describe Sia's tunes - or any music, really. So this isn't a review, just a load of praise for one of my favorite female artists. I found Sia while searching for something else on the Internet and now I often skip over my other music to listen to hers.

2. Lost

Would you think I was lying if I told you that I have never seen an entire episode of Lost preceding season 5; That I don't know how all of these beautiful people survived a plane crash and ended up on a magical island with strange, but also beautiful people already inhabiting it?

So how did I finally get into the show that everyone had already been obsessed with for four previous seasons? Ryan was at school so I was at home alone one night early this year. I was sitting in front of the television and I arrived at Lost while channel surfing. I watched the entire episode, which went right over my head. The same thing happened the next week. Subconsciously, my finger slid to the down button on my remote and I ended up viewing another entire episode of Lost. The third week, I sat down purposefully - with a bowl of ice cream and everything - to watch Lost. I was hooked and I still didn't really know why people were having strange hallucinations and trying to kill other people. But I was now devoted. And I can't wait for Season 6.

3. J.Crew... again.

I remember a time - as a seventh grader - when we would get the J.Crew catalog in the mail and I would spend the next half hour studying the clothing inside it, wishing I could wear it all.

And then J.Crew started selling khakis with little miniature turtles and dragonflies and such all over them. And endless button down shirts. And mule clogs. I mean, if Land's End and Gap had a baby, it would be J.Crew during the late 90s/ early 2000s. It felt boring and basic and middle-aged. By that time I lived away from my parents' house and I never felt the need to send for a catalog.

So I was surprised when, early this year, I found a shiny J.Crew catalog rolled up in my mailbox. I had not sent for it. But thanks to my old ritual years ago, I walked through my apartment door, dropped everything (except my kid, of course), sat at the kitchen table, opened the glossy pages and examined every item.

And I felt like that seventh-grader again. I was mesmerized by the wide array of colors and fabrics, but I fell most in love with the details - the patent-leather bow on the pumps, the collar with a chiffon ruffle and the Czech crystal buttons on the sweater. With those subtle embellishments, J.Crew revived itself from a heap of blah basics to a collection of enhanced necessities.

J.Crew is back and that makes me very happy.

4. Wyman's frozen wild blueberries

These make the milk in your cereal ice cold. I can't have breakfast without them. You can find them at Costco.

5. Bare Escentuals

I know, it's As Seen on TV, a box full of powdery substances, brushes and a how-to DVD. Old lady makeup, right? It may be, but this 24-year-old loves the stuff. You can dust as much or as little as you want on and it always looks natural, almost like you don't have any on at all. And I didn't even have to watch the DVD to figure that out.

6. El Pollo Rico

It may be called "The Rich Chicken," but this Peruvian eatery (dive) has been dubbed "Dirty Chicken" by locals. The latter moniker is an obvious reference to the section of blackened chicken that servers there toss onto a styrofoam to-go box loaded with steak fries and coleslaw. But the Clarendon restaurant's real name describes the meal of moist and tasty chicken perfectly. It is delicious and rich, or rico. And the yellow and green dipping sauces that you get with each meal give it kick and flavor.

So that's my list. What's yours?