Saturday, September 22, 2012

An Actual E-mail Chain

Between my mother, my husband and I the morning we celebrated our 3rd anniversary

Mom: HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!!     ~:-)

Michael: Aye, it be!  Many thanks!  It also be international talk like a pirate day, arrrgh!

Me: I am married to a crazy person.

Mom: OMG!  I forgot it was Pirate Day!  In that case...
Avast me hearties!  Tis said that today marks ye 3 years of being wed.
Tis a great day for yon landlubbers.  Hoist the sails and raise the rum!
AARGH, indeed!
(looks like your mother is a crazy person, as well - LOL)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Wall Hangings

In my opinion, photos of family and friends make the best art.    (That is in the Book of Jules.   When this blessed book is published, this sentiment will probably be worded as such: Use family photos and memorabilia while decorating in order to reduce clutter and enjoy and showcase your memories.)

Photos and memories personalize your home, make it look like you live there - instead of like you opened up the Pottery Barn catalog and dove in - and if you like your family and friends, your artwork will make you smile.   It's also rather inexpensive to order prints (or bother your mother and mother-in-law for theirs) and head to just about any store for some frames.   Especially when you compare your snapshots to a Picasso.  

As soon as you walk into our house, the stairs are to your right, and you see this collection climbing the railing and creeping on to the landing wall.   That's what I am talking about today.

Now, if you want to hang photos on a wall, in a grid or along the stairway, or in a haphazard fashion, there are many resources online to assist you.   The problem for me was none of them really showed me how to get exactly what I wanted.  

Thanks to my [at the time] new obsession with Pinterest, I had found examples of how I wanted to hang photos in my stairwell along the inclined stairs, but also on the landing.   My most favorite landing example featured many photos in various sizes, arranged in a sort of mirrored fashion left to right and top to bottom.  Exactly, to the millimeter, spaced apart.   Isn't it pretty?

I wanted to duplicate it exactly, but the wall of our landing wasn't big enough, so I improvised and took out the middle section.  (In some house, at some point in my life, I will do this exactly.  With the S!)  But what made me LOVE this wall so much was the fact that the frames all complimented each other and they were pretty much exactly the same width apart and make straight lines all the way across.   


I was not sure how to tackle the project, so I did what seemed logical in this situation: I called my dad.

Dad can fix just about anything, and he can build just about anything, too.   Basically, if you don't have a widget, he can build you one.   If you have a widget and it's broken, he can fix it.   What I am try to illustrate here, is that  he is very handy to have around for household projects.  I showed him this photo and told him I wanted to replicate the arrangement.   Dad is also an engineer, and about as OCD as I am about things, so he is pretty much the ideal source.

Here's what I got back from my dad

Each picture frame probably has a different distance from the top of the frame to the  point where the nail will be installed.  If you do the template approach, you can mark the template with the location of the nail, and make the nail holes using the template.

The engineering approach is to utilize the laser to set the location of the horizontal and vertical edges of each picture, and then establish the nail location by measuring the off set from the top and vertical edges and moving the laser per the offsets.  The attached EXCEL file gives a step-by-step pictorial explanation 

Y'all.    It is amazing!   I followed it to a T (well, first I bought a laser level) and after much measuring and re-measuring and pencil marks on the backs of the frames, look at what I got!   The angle is a bit weird because it's a small landing in the stairwell, and I had to stand at the top of the stairs to include everything in the shot.   But I am happy with it!    

And in case you wondered, there are a couple photos of my dad in here!

Morals of the story:

  • Family photos as artwork is still my favorite thing
  • My Dad can fix and build anything 
  • Including an OCD photo wall makes a house that much more Jules-like

What's your favorite way to personalize your space?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Three years ago today I looked like this: 

In the last 3 years I have not:
  • had hair that long or blond
  • been that tan
  • worn a dress that heavy
  • held a bouquet that ginormous and beautiful
  • been able to see so many people from all parts of our lives (family, childhood, college, etc) in one place
  • posed for so many photos in such a short time

I have, however, been as happy as I look in the above photo.

Cue the sap fest!    

Don't get me wrong: every minute of every day is not as wonderful as the entire day you get married.    But every day should make you happy as a couple.   You are happy that you got married, that you have lived a life together and will continue to build a life together.   The world is full of unknowns, but together, you will handle it and that makes it a lot less scary.

That's how I feel about the past three years we have officially, legally, been bound, and it's how I am approaching the future.   All I know is that the unknown is a lot more fun with a buddy.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Three Funny Conversations

1) Magic Kingdom, Friday afternoon
Riding Big Thunder Mountain

We get into the train car and sit down.  Michael notices a water bottle left in the small pouch, conveniently in place to hold hats, sunglasses, and other items that you'd not like to fly out of the car while riding.  Michael removes the bottle to give to the nearest cast member

Michael: I found a water bottle here.

[meanwhile I put my sunglasses in the pouch]

Cast Member: Oh thank you!

[takes bottle and walks away]

Michael: And some sunglasses!

[reaching into the pouch and grabbing the glasses I just put in there]

Me: No!  Those are mine!

Michael: Never mind!

2) Dining Room Table, Friday evening
Playing Black Jack

Me: You win
Michael: What?
Me: You win.   You have 18
Michael:  No, I don't
Me: Yes you do.  Eleven plus seven equals eighteen
Michael:  Oh!   Aces are eleven!
Me: This might be more fun if you knew the values of all the cards
Michael: And if I knew how to add numbers.

3) Finishing up Dinner, Saturday evening

Me: You know what we should get at Target?
Michael: I do not know
Me: It's a beverage
Michael: At Starbucks?
Me: Yes.
Michael: A latte?
Me: More specifically.....
Michael: I don't know
Me: What time of year is it?
Michael: Oh.   A....... pumpkin..... gingerbread ?
Me: Right church, wrong pew.   Pumpkin spice.
Michael: Yeah.   That.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sorted Spices

Full disclosure: this idea did not come from me!   It comes from my germophobic sister.   Let me back up

Back in the mid 90s, Al decided to organize all of my mom's spices.  They were housed in an under-cabinet drawer that was an excellent use of space, but did not provide the chef (Mom) with a good view of the spice labels.   Well, the first row was fine, but the rest of the bottles were visible only from the top, and most lids look the same.   We should have known then that Alison was destined for a top-10 school.

What did she do?

She put small stickers on each lid, with the spice name clearly printed.  Pull out the drawer, and see many many rows of spices, arranged alphabetically, and easily retrieved when viewing from above.  Genius.   It kind of looked like this:

Flash forward to my pantry earlier this year.   I had been using a small Lazy Susan (one of my favorite organizational tools of all time, I know, NERD ALERT) to keep the bottle corralled.  The problem was our collection had outgrown the turntable and I had some spices there, and others sort of lumped on a shelf.   It was turning into a mess, and I had to figure out a new plan.   This actually spun out of control into a pantry overhaul which I will address at a later date.

I wracked my brain and hopped onto Pinterest.    There are so many good ideas on that website!   But so many of them involved expensive systems that required me to decant all spices into identical jars, and/or attach a magnetic piece of metal on the door of a cabinet and stick magnets on the bottoms of the identical jars.

Don't get me wrong, I love identical jars.  But for me that was not practical and I am so not crafty, so there goes affixing anything to a cabinet door.   Then I remembered what my sister did many years ago for my mom.   I don't have a drawer deep enough to stand up all spice bottles, nor do I have a drawer in my pantry.    But I do have a Target nearby, and what does Target sell?   BASKETS!

Baskets are wonderful.   Do you know why?   They can usually be purchased at a reasonable price.   I have heard that even the Dollar Store has them!   They come in so many shapes and sizes and colors.   The crafty ones among us [my hand is not raised] can spray paint them or add liners or ... what else do you add to baskets?  My point is, you can dress them up for not too much money.  The selection is vast, and the item itself is practical and customizable.

What's not to love?

So, as you may have gathered from the above photo, I arranged all my spices on the counter to see how many I had so I could get the right size  (During this time I took inventory of other items and ended up buying several baskets of various sizes)   I also ordered these amazing labels from Amazon.   Alison used small square stickers that were probably originally intended for a garage sale, which she easily found at Drug Mart.   I am OCD so I wanted mine printed in a uniform font.  It is a sickness.

Once the labels arrived, I took my laptop into the kitchen and made labels for all my spices, printed them out, affixed them to the jars, and voila!   I have an easy way of taking inventory.

The most ironic part of all of this?   I don't cook.  Michael does.

What's your favorite way to organize spices?   Or a million similarly designed bottles?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Free Souvenir

Al and Sal were here this weekend and we had oodles of fun.   It goes without saying that there is more to say on the subject.    Until then, a teaser:

We all rode Star Tours at Hollywood Studios.   After the ride stopped, Alison noticed something rolling around in the seat in front of her.   She took a closer look and immediately grabbed it.   This is unusual; Al rarely touches unknown items for the germ factor alone.   It was obviously something good.

Turns out, a full travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer had been left behind by a previous rider.   Not only was it:

a) hand sanitizer [one of Al's top favorite products of all time]

but it also

b) was orange
c) smelled like tangerines
d) featured a creature that "looks like Mike Wazowski!"
e) would fit in her carry-on to take back with her
f) could be used to eradicate germs that may have been left behind by the previous owner (how ironic!)

Later in they day Al offered it to all 4 of us before sitting down to dinner.    After we all accepted - trust me, you may not say no- she announced

"This is the best free thing I have ever found in my entire life"

It doesn't take much. . . . we spent hours riding state-of-the-art attractions, and it's the germ-x that gets top billing.