11.27.2006

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. :)

~L

11.19.2006

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!!

11.14.2006

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). :)

Love,
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).

11.11.2006

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!

11.10.2006

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.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

"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!! :)

11.05.2006

IQF

So originally this trip was going to be a mothers and daughters kind of thing with a few of my coworkers and our moms/stepmoms (and my dad), but it ended up just being a little getaway with my family instead because Carrie and Alisa had circumstances come up that made them have to cancel their trips. Boy did they miss out!

The Houston International Quilt Festival is an amazing sight to behold. It's apparently the biggest convention that comes to Houston each year, and the George R. Brown Convention Center was expanded specifically to allow the IQF more room for the amazing quilts and vendor displays. There are hundreds of simply amazing quilts on display here, and hundreds of vendors hawking their goods as well.

Barb and I hit the festival in the afternoon on Thursday and developed a game plan to look at vendors on Day 1, quilts on Day 2 and then show the highlights to Dad on Day 3. Michelle and her mom were there as well, but Michelle was taking classes all day every day so we would only see her in the evenings. I'm not sure how Michelle survived the week with the schedule that she had, but as she put it "I live for this all year, so I'll crash after I get back home."

The vendors were a little overwhelming - very crowded and some people were a little pushy (but not too terribly bad). I bought a few new things - decided to try out applique for the first time so I bought a few Halloween kits with really adorable wool felt pumpkins and ghouls and goblins. Tune in next year to see how they turn out (assuming that I can actually figure out how to make them)! I also bought some great fat quarters, a fun panel that's going to turn into a Christmas gift for a special little boy, and another kit that is going to be a really snuggly blanket for Karl and I (Barb bought one as well, so I say we challenge ourselves to finish it before the end of the year!). Karl was really happy with the snuggly blanket kit because it has lots of his favorite print - PLAID. That dude is mad for plaid, I tell ya. ;)

So that's Day 1. I don't have any pictures to share because most of the vendors didn't allow photography in their booths to protect their proprietary goods. It was exhausting, but fun. That evening, we went to dinner with Michelle, Jackson and Sharon. Much hilarity ensued with trying to find a restaurant (and proper parking), and we ended up eating at a completely deserted restaurant that had surprisingly good food.

On Day 2, we hit the quilt displays. Unfortunately I can't attribute all of the following quilts to their proper creators because I didn't get all of that information written down. With how crowded it was, I was happy just to get photos that didn't have people blocking the quilts! Here is a summary of my favorites:


I think that this ballerina is my favorite quilt out of all of them. She was one of the finalists in the Reality Publishing's $100,000 Quilting Challenge, and it's called At the Bolshoi by Pat Blair. Her tutu is all embroidery. Simply phenomenal.


And another cow! Big surprise that I liked this one! :) This one was a prize-winner of some sort, and it was very well deserved - it's so cool.


This quilt won the Robert C. Cohan Master Award for Traditional Artistry (a $5K prize...not bad at all!), and it's called Promise by Noriko Kido of Japan. It's hard to convey how breathtaking this quilt is, but I absolutely loved it. She created this quilt for her 20th wedding anniversary - what a precious heirloom!

This quilt covers all of the signs of the Zodiac, and the level of detail was really amazing. The colors were much more rich in real life, and my favorites were Aries (but of course!) and Leo.


I love the fall colors in this one, and how it really makes you feel like you are laying on the floor of the forest looking up to the sky.


This quilt even has several mini quilts in 3D! And the artist used metallic thread to convey the fence lines, and there are even individual pickles in the jars on the table!


I found the silhouette concept on this quilt to be really striking and unique.


I like how this quilt incorporates beautiful quilting on the yellow background, and how the bright blue really pops off of those muted tones.

And now for some collages of some of the other quilts that struck my fancy. I just couldn't get over the amazing amount of detail, precision and creativity that was on display here!


The photos don't even do these quilts justice (and I just noticed that one quilt is duplicated up above, but I'm too lazy to re-do the collage). I tried to capture my own personal Best of the Best, but there were inevitably some that just didn't photograph well (like the whole cloth quilts that had amazing amounts of detail but were all one color). I'm so glad that Michelle encouraged us to come down and check it out!

Also while in Houston, Barb and I checked out a trendy shopping center on Westheimer. It had a Restoration Hardware, Anthropologie, Pottery Barn, Coldwater Creek and a bunch of other fun stores. Barb bought us matching slippers at Coldwater Creek and those puppies are keeping my feet warm as I sit at the computer to type this post (it's cold and rainy in Seattle today, I'm sure you are shocked and awed by that).

So that's my big recap of our big trip! It was lots of fun, and very inspiring!

home, home on the range

Flew back in late last night, and it feels so good to be home. I had a great time in Houston - getting to see Brian's house, seeing him and his family, going to the quilt festival....that was all great - but I missed Karl and the kitties and I got tired of wearing the same pair of jeans every day. :)

I'll break my trip into 2 posts - the first being about Hallettsville and the second about Houston. Two big posts for one big trip, because everything is bigger in Texas you know.

On Wednesday morning I took a red-eye out of Seattle into Houston. The plan was that Dad and Barb would arrive around the same time as I did and Brian would pick us all up. That was the plan, but that didn't end up being the reality. Dad and Barb missed their flight and the next one didn't take off until around 6:00 in the morning and wouldn't arrive in Houston until around noon. Since we had plans to eat lunch at Sierra's school, and Brian had to cover the ER starting at noon, Brian and I headed out to Hallettsville and decided to have Dad and Barb rent a car when they arrived so they could drive in themselves.

This is my brother and sister-in-laws house. It's a pretty impressive house! It has a ton of potential, and I really like what they've done with it so far. I'm sooooo jealous of Michelle's sewing and quilting area! And looking at her fabric stash makes me feel like I don't have nearly enough fabric of my own. :)

I also got to finally see how the paintings that Karl did for the kids look in their rooms. I love the way they look hanging up on their walls, and I'm so proud of Karl for doing such a great job! I'm also really thankful that Brian and Michelle gave Karl the opportunity to practice painting - these were some of the first paintings that Karl had ever done!

Brian and Michelle have the sweetest dog named Chloe. She is a hoot! Still has quite a bit of puppy in her, so she's very hyper but oh so loveable.


Getting to spend some time with Brian was really great. My brothers and I aren't overly close - we're not the type that talks on the phone or visits with each other very regularly. I guess when your brothers are 10 and 13 years older than you and everyone is scattered all over the country with their own families and careers and priorities, it's pretty hard to stay in touch. So that makes these visits even more special when they do finally happen. He's such a funny, generous and smart guy - I could have stayed up all night chatting with him if I hadn't been so freakishly exhausted. I really hope that the whole family can start seeing more of each other in the coming years. Hopefully also next time we can see more of Sierra and Michelle, as we love getting to spend time with them as well.

One of the biggest delights was seeing how much Jackson, the littlest of Brian's kiddos, has developed since the last time I saw him. He's so much more outgoing and talkative, and talk about a CUTIE PIE!

This kid is going to have everyone wrapped around his little finger - how can you say no when he says "Please? Just for one minute? Just one??". I loved when he imitated me at breakfast on our last day in Houston - talk about the highest form of compliment, when a 3-yr-old wants to eat and drink what Aunt Laura is eating and drinking!

And finally, the cows! The area of Texas that they live in is most noted for it's brahman bulls, but I loved the longhorns. Those horns just kill me! So when Barb and I were driving up to Houston on Thursday morning she had strict orders to keep an eye out for longhorns that were close enough to the fence that we could get a good photo opportunity. When we finally saw some, we pulled off the side of the road and backed down the highway like a couple of crazy tourists! Those cows (not to mention the people driving by us) probably thought that we had lost our fool minds!




We may have looked like crazy tourists, but it was totally worth it to get those cow shots! :)

Next up, the quilt festival!