Have a holly, jolly Christmas!

Laura, Karl, Hobbes and Cooper


bright paper packages, tied up in string

...part 1...

I'm not sure why I do this every Christmas - put SO MUCH pressure on myself to give hand-made gifts, but then procrastinate like crazy until it's almost too late to get them done in time. Stress. Myself. Out.

A little over a month ago, I saw a place mat on a crafty blog and I decided that I could make some of those as Christmas gifts. I know it's still a few days away from the big day, but I think it's safe to share these photos because I don't think Karl's stepsisters read this blog. If they do....stop reading now!

The piecing of these place mat sets went very quickly and was loads of fun. I mean, seriously, what could be more fun than picking out coordinating fabrics and piecing them together in a fun patchwork? I love that part, and I'll stay up all night for that without hardly blinking an eye!

It's just the finishing that gets me, the quilting in straight lines and all (which, I'm told, could be much easier if I upgraded my machine), the hand-sewing up the tiny little hole where I turned these suckers right-side out. The figuring out which type of quilting was the preferred method - horizontal lines, vertical lines or diamonds (curse you, blue painters' tape!). Exhausting!

But in the end, I'm so happy with how these turned out! An important lesson I learned is that I should have written down my measurements after cutting out the first set (I didn't use a pattern, except for the one I liked online). Each set is slightly different in size, but luckily all 4 in each set are the same!

There are a total of 4 sets, but one of them is for someone who may possibly read this blog before Christmas...so that picture will come with the next post of Christmas goodness. :)

Sorry for the cruddy pictures...it's 11:00, and there isn't a whole lot of natural light to be had this late...

Off to finish one more project so we can mail off packages tomorrow....

Congratulations, Winnie!!

My dear friend from college, Winnie, has gotten engaged!! We haven't seen each other since she moved back to Hong Kong in 2002 (or was it 2001?), but we have kept in touch via email. I'm so happy for her!

And Mama Mia...check out the size of that bouquet! He really went all out!



Windy McWinderson

This has been a crazy weather season for us here in the Pacific NW! First we almost break a record for consecutive number of days with rain early in the year, then we get basically no rain all summer, then we break a record for rain during the month of November, then we have a freak snow storm that shut the city down, and NOW we had gale-force winds last night and I'm stuck at home because my office doesn't have any power! Whew...that was quite a run-on sentence!

So anyway, I drove through the obstacle course of our neighborhood this morning and headed to work.

But wait! There was a downed tree blocking the road into Renton (we are outside of the city limits), so I was doing a u-turn to go the other way when my boss called to say that we had no power and that we couldn't even get in the building because the key card swipe was out along with the rest of the electricity. So here I sit, calling in periodically to see if I get anything other than a busy signal (indicating that the power is back on).

Crazy stuff! We have a few big trees down in our neighborhood, but luckily it appears as if none of them hit any houses.

Alright, Karl just came back home because his office campus is out of power as well. At least we've got power at home....and I can hopefully get some more Christmas gifts finished up! :)



You break it you buy it, lady

I’ve finally gotten around to downloading and editing all of the photos from my trip to the Ixtapa/Zihautanejo area! Since there are so many photos to share, I won’t muck it up with too much commentary…

a great time was had with my dad and Barb (still a bit bummed that Karl couldn’t join us, though)

had a nice view from our small hotel room

spent 4 days and 3 nights shopping and relaxing

lots of walks, the best ones were on the beach

watched some fishermen….fishing

walked by this fountain every time we went into town

bought some fun souvenirs and gifts (but no photos to show of that…can’t ruin any Christmas surprises)

saw some pretty flowers…

…and trees

had a maid who created fun towel creatures

watched the sunset on day 1…

…and on day 2…

…and on day 3…

the hotel had a lovely infinity pool that almost completely blended in with the ocean

spent time each morning watching the dolphins play next door to our hotel – a much better bargain than paying $150 to swim in the pool with them!

enjoyed the 2-for-1 happy hour quite a bit!

and saw one final sunset before heading back to the “real” world

A great vacation, indeed!


Thanksgiving leftovers

I had grand intentions of posting each day during my Thanksgiving holiday, but it just wasn’t meant to be. So instead of bemoaning the amount of leftovers in our fridge, and how I’m so sick of eating turkey and mashed potatoes, I’ll do a thankful list instead…a few days late for Thanksgiving…

  • I’m thankful for my husband, and for that fateful night at Harpo’s nearly 6 years ago that brought us together. I got very lucky when I met him, and I don’t tell him that nearly often enough (or myself, for that matter).

  • I'm thankful that he finally made it home last night – his normal 35-45 minute commute clocked in at 2 hrs 45 min due to the crazy weather we are having.

  • I’m thankful for all of my friends – old and new, close and not-so-close.

  • I’m thankful that my oldest brother reads my blog and leaves comments. Hi Philip!

  • I’m thankful for my family – those that are related by blood and those that aren’t. Not many people can say that their parents are some of their best friends, but I’m lucky enough to be able to make that claim myself.

  • I’m thankful for the steam cleaner that Dan and Leslie loaned us. Man oh man, did that come in handy this past weekend. We must get one of those.

  • I’m thankful that we were able to purchase our first house this past summer. Being a homeowner is SO MUCH better than living in an apartment (even if we can’t find any good Thai or sushi or Indian food close our house).

  • I’m thankful that Laura and Scott were able to share our first Thanksgiving as homeowners with us, even if I wasn’t the Hostess with the Mostess that I had intended to be. I’m also thankful that they brought us a bird book and helped us identify most of our backyard birdies! (note that I removed the bird book from our wish list on the right)

  • I’m thankful that in 5 days I’ll be in sunny Ixtapa instead of cold and snowy/rainy Seattle. I love the Emerald City, but I’m totally ready for a mini-vacation to the beach!

  • I’m thankful for the Le Creuset dutch oven that I bought at Tuesday Morning for 50% off. Oh yeah, baby! I could get arms of steel if I just started cooking more with that sucker – it is so heavy to lift! And it looks oh-so-pretty on our stove with a pot full of soup simmering in it!

  • I’m thankful for Cooper and Hobbes, and all the entertainment that we get from them. I love how Hobbes’ favorite place to lay is in the crook of my left arm, and how Cooper is so cute when he’s sleeping under our Christmas tree.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, but I won’t bore you to tears with a miles-long gratitude list! :)

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

I'm having a snow day today - we have about 4 inches of snow on the ground, and about 1 inch of ice below that. Normally that wouldn't be a big deal, but Seattle doesn't have a whole brigade of snow plows and de-icers...so Renton is one big ice skating rink today with the temps forecasted to be at or below freezing for the whole day. My boss was kind enough to email me some files so I can work from home, so I best get to it. :)



House update

This past weekend we hosted a UFC Fight Night at our house. The great thing about being homeowners is that we can actually DO things like have a party and not have to worry about 10 people being crammed into our apartment and possibly annoying our neighbors with the noise!

It may surprise some of you (okay, a lot of you) to know that Karl and I are Ultimate Fighting fans. We typically don't like fighting, and we're not even all that much into sports. But for some reason we totally get into UFC! I guess you can "blame" it on Dan and Leslie - they got us into Project Runway and UFC, quite an odd pairing....but that's us in a nutshell.

So anyway, back to the party preparation. I was feeling a lot of anxiety about having people over when our house (in my opinion) was still looking a bit un-homey. We had white spots all over the walls from holes that had been patched, there were multiple different paint swatches from the different colors that we contemplated, and there was absolutely nothing hung up on the walls. Hosting a party was just the kick in the pants that I needed to get motivated to work on the house again, so after work last week I painted (with some help from Karl) the dining room and hallway, then we hung up a bunch of artwork and also organized a few rooms.

Here are some pictures....

This is the fireplace and mantel in our living room. We bought the fireplace screen at Home Depot, and painted the walls a nice shade of bluish-gray. That rose is one of my favorite paintings of Karl's, and that helped us decide to go with cooler colors on our walls instead of warmer ones (have to coordinate the walls with the artwork, you know).

This is our dining room, and I painted the wainscoting the same color as the living room. The upper part of the walls and the hallway are a lighter shade of gray. That painting on the wall is not one that Karl did, but a canvas that I bought off of a street vendor in Paris back in 2001. I love that painting, as it reminds me of what a great trip I had with Laura (and just in case you don't know, I'm not talking about myself in the 3rd person here....she's my sister-in-law). I will go back to Europe some day, but I'll never have another trip like that. Needless to say, this painting is really special to me. And see those green dishes on the table? We found those at an antique store down the street from us, and those have quickly become some of our more treasured pieces.

Some people didn't mind the sage green color that was everywhere in our house, but we couldn't stand it. It reminded us of the previous owners (not a happy reminder), it looked terrible with the creamy colored trim and it just wasn't US. This makes it feel so much more like home. We still need to paint the trim a nice and bright white, but that will come at a later day.

Here's a shot of the hallway and our guest bedroom. The hallway is the same color as the top of our dining room, and that orange rose in the corner was a birthday gift from Karl a few years ago. LOVE that painting. :) The guest bedroom is painted a color called Melted Butter and the quilt is from Garnet Hill. The guest bedroom is such a happy little room - this picture doesn't even do justice to the lovely color.

Karl and I have been having a total love-fest with our house since we got these walls painted and the artwork hung up. It just feels like OUR HOME now, like all of the negativity that was associated with the previous owners has been washed away and it's just our house. There's still a lot to do to it, but at least we are one step closer.

So now that the party prep was done, it was time to move on to Fight Night! Most of the people that we invited were known UFC fans, but we also had a few people who (a) didn't even know what UFC was and (b) weren't too into fighting. Carrie was quite the trooper though, and she even brought hostess gifts with her! Check out these adorable coasters that her mom made, and the cute candy cane tissue holder. I love them!

And she also gave me a knitted dish rag, which I put to use to clean up the stack of dishes that was left after the party. I've never used a knitted cloth to wash dishes, but after trying it out I have been converted. Plus, it looks so darn cute draped over the faucet. Thanks, Carrie!

How were the fights, you ask? Well there were 2 main events - the heavyweight title match with Sylvia vs Monson and the welterweight title match with Hughes vs St. Pierre (GSP). The Sylvia fight was a huge disappointment due to an almost complete lack of any interesting activity. There was almost a foot of height difference between the two guys, and Sylvia used that to his advantage to help him just stay away from Monson (who is a monster, and would have easily defeated Sylvia if he could have just gotten closer to him, IMO). It seemed to me that he knew that the judges wouldn't take the title away from the champ if it came down to a decision, so he just defended rather than trying to actually win. Boring.

And that takes me to the welterweight fight, which was night and day from the heavyweight fight. GSP was in fine form, and even though the fight lasted for just under two full rounds there was a ton of action. When GSP landed that kick to the head and then started raining on Matt Hughes, it was all over. That was a really fun fight, and we were all pretty pumped that GSP won! I was a little bummed that there weren't more flying knees and flying punches (my favorite moves), but there was enough other action to make it completely worth buying the PPV. Plus, it was a really fun group of people that we had over at the house. Good friends, good food/drink, good fight = great night. :)

Calling all you bird watchers

Okay, all you bird watchers out there....what types of birds are these? I patiently waited at our kitchen sink over the weekend to try and get shots of most of the birds that frequent our yard. There was one species that didn't make an appearance, so hopefully I will catch that one sometime in the future.

(1) This blue one makes a squawk like a crow, and sort of looks like a blue jay without the white (which makes us fairly certain that it's not a blue jay). There is a group of 3 or 4 of these guys that visit our yard pretty regularly. They aren't too good at holding on to our little suet feeder, so they employ the hover and peck quickly technique and then drop down to pick up the pieces from the yard.

(2) The one perched on the feeder here, with the chestnut-colored back, has some crazy evil eyebrows (which are probably just tufts of fur that got messed up...I don't REALLY think he's evil...).

(3) These guys, with the black heads and necks, started making an appearance a few weeks ago.

(4) These pretty little ones have the biggest numbers in our yard. Sometimes you can see at least a dozen of them in our plum trees. Usually they are pretty polite and will wait their turn on top of the wind chimes that are just to the side of this feeder.

(5) And finally we've got these fawn-colored little fellows.

So there you have a run-down of most of our birds. Oh wait, there is one other one that I've been having a hard time identifying. We've got 3 of this one, and they sure do enjoy our bird feeders. A LOT. Anyone know what type of BIRD this is???

Thanks for your help!!


Dear Santa...

Dear Santa,

I'm sure you are a frequent reader of my blog....you know, because you have so much free time leading up to Christmas. So since you're here and all, I added a wish list for our little family over in the right margin.

In case you are wondering, I have been exceptionally good this year and Karl has been mostly good (although he doesn't eat nearly enough vegetables). :)

Laura & Karl

p.s. I hope you don't mind us leaving soy milk out with the cookies this year, because we don't keep cow's milk in our house ever since figuring out that Karl is lactose intolerant (see, I told you.....mostly good).


Back in the Saddle!

I jumped back into the sewing saddle again....finally!! This group of WIP (works-in-progress for you non-crafters and/or non-accountants) is going to turn into fun Christmas gifts for 4 little Reasoners. I tried to pick fabrics that they will like, and hopefully Aunt Laura picked well. Can't show you the finished products for another month and a half or so though, since that would ruin the Christmas surprise.

It felt so good to sew again - even though the office isn't completely unpacked and my sewing area was less than ideally set up, it was like saying hello to an old friend to sit at the machine and sew. And I'm really proud of myself because all of the fabrics you see above were from my stash. How very frugal of me! And that pale yellow fabric with the pink bugs? That (I think) was the very first fabric that I ever bought back when Barb first gave me my machine, but I've been hesitant to cut into it because I couldn't come up with something to make out of it that would do justice to how cute the fabric is. I must say that it's very liberating to cut into fabric that you've been hoarding for 3 years!

I'll end this post with a pic of a quilt that I made earlier in the year using some of the fabric from the first picture. It was a baby blanket for my good friend Carri's new baby boy. Before the little one could enjoy it though, my little Mr. Blue Eyes decided to give it a test run. The look he's giving the camera says, rather sheepishly, "Do we have to give this away??"
It's a little busy for a baby quilt, but I figured that all of the activity on it would give the little one something to look at while he's playing.

Have a good day!


Happy Birthday, Karl!!

Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday, dear Karl!
Happy Birthday to you!

(doesn't he look so darn cute in that picture from our wedding??)

Happy 32nd birthday, Karl! This has been a great week for you - Capitol Hill is blue again and the winds of change they are a-blowin, you got some AWESOME news at work that could have HUGE impacts on our future, we're going to go see a funny movie, we'll eat a top-notch steak and we'll also go see some great live music while you are wearing your cool new clothes. Oh, and you are turning the big 3-2 on Saturday. A great week indeed!

You deserve a much longer post than this, but I'm not feeling very wordy tonight...so suffice it to say that I love you more than words could ever express and you are without a doubt the best thing that has ever happened to me.

I hope this coming year brings everything that you could ever hope for.


"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. "
-- Mark Twain

p.s. Please leave a comment wishing Karl a happy birthday! It's easy to leave comments....it really is!! :)