7.31.2012

House Plans/Outdoor Projects

House Front

This is the front of our house.  We had/have big plans for improving the front landscape, but unfortunately nature has had other plans.  It is so gross hot and humid and disgusting, we're having a difficult time finding nice enough weather to go out and actually do it.  Also, we're in the process of having our chimney partially taken down/rebuilt (you can't see how bad it is in this shot) and the mason told us to hold off on any front yard plans until after they're finished.  And so we wait.

Drawing 1

Here's the plan: we want to build a short retaining wall out from the house (illustrated in hot pink above) since our land is concave in the front and slopes from side to side.  all of the water runs off in front of the porch, so hopefully a wall/planting bed will help with the drainage and keep the soil erosion to a minimum.  I also drew in some green bushes which will be transplanted from a different spot in the front (see picture below) and also where I'd like to plant a small tree, like a Japanese Maple...

Drawing 2

Here's another shot of the house with my lovely drawn-in hot pink wall.  Also, I've circled the trio of bushes which will be transplanted up front.  I loathe this triangle of bushes.  There used to be more plants (I think some lavender?) in the middle, and all it did was serve as a trash bin for the local kids as they walked by.  How rude!

Tree Box

One thing that we HAVE actually achieved this summer is a small wall/edging around our front tree in the parkway.  I like the square shape because it's unconventional (people around here usually mulch or have some kind of circular edging, if anything at all) and Todd likes it because he said it's easy to mow around.  This only took us a couple of hours one afternoon, and yes, it was still really hot, but at least we were under the shade of the tree!

I'd like to do a similar square box around our backyard tree (shown below).  The red circle represents where we used to have a huge beautiful maple tree that died this last year!  Our landscaper said it was the victim of beetles.  So we had to have it removed, and we replanted a new tree slightly over from the original.  It's a fairly large replacement, but nowhere near the size of our previous tree.  Sad!

New backyard tree

Our chimney should be repaired within this next month, so we're hoping to still achieve our landscaping dreams this year before winter.  Hopefully, the fall will bring us some nicer weather in which to work.  We have a couple of friends willing to come over and help us with the front, so things should go pretty smoothly, and I'll be sure to share the completed project!

Are you as bummed out about the hot weather this year as I am?  Were you able to get any outdoor projects done?  Or are you waiting like me?

now playing:
L'Enfant Sauvage by GOJIRA on Grooveshark

7.30.2012

What Time Is It?

Adventure Time

So I'm a little surprised I haven't done a proper blog post about this sooner.  Especially since I've dressed up as an Adventure Time character for the last two Halloweens (proof here and here).  I figured it was about time for a post featuring our Adventure Time toy collection.  These toys have only been out for a relatively short amount of time, and only in the last few weeks does it seem like they've been becoming easier to find at your local Toys R Us stores.  The first figure Todd ever bought was the tall Finn (pictured above) with removable backpack, sword, and changing face (see down below a few for deets and pictures).  My latest acquisition is the super awesome Lady Rainicorn plush beanie baby thingy (see above).

Little Finn

Above is the smaller "stretchy" Finn that's available (stretchy Jake is pictured in the top image with removable fist), but the stretchy part really just refers to the arms.  It's more like "bendy."  Also, the skinny limbs make the figures pretty fragile, so I wouldn't give them to little kids.

Below is the taller 12" Jake with changing faces.  The face section "rolls" back into the head to change the expression.  See all four below.  It's pretty cute.

Finn Faces

We didn't even know that a bigger version of Beemo existed until I spotted him at the store.  Beemo also has changing faces, just like the Finn figure.  See all of Beemo's facial/screen options below.

BMO Faces

For those of you unfamiliar with the show, Beemo is a video game device.  I think he looks like a Game Boy, but he's more like an entire console with built-in TV when you see him on the show.  He, of course, is a character unto himself that can walk and talk... like most of the things in this cartoon...!  You can visit here for a more complete description of the Adventure Time characters.

Below is a picture of an Adventure Time doll that I made almost two years ago.  It was before any Adventure Time toys even existed.  My brother decided that he wanted to make a Lumpy Space Princess plush doll, so I told him that I would help in exchange for me making my own at the same time.  So we had our own little "crafternoon" and made LSP dolls.  I'm still pretty proud of her, so it seemed appropriate to include her in this post.

Lumpy Space Princess

How about you - what's your favorite cartoon?

now playing:
Jailbreak by Thin Lizzy on Grooveshark

7.28.2012

I'm giving away free ads!!!


Thanks to the cool system I discovered over on Rockin' Mama's blog, I've decided to try out an account on Passionfruit Ads, but since I'm still a baby blogger with a small readership, I'd like to begin by offering FREE ads to fellow bloggers in return for a spot on YOUR blog!

FREE!

This offer is limited to the first 15 bloggers every month.  You can see that I already have a couple of fun sites over in the left column to visit!  (Full disclosure: Shaking the Invincible is actually my husband's website for his band - I needed to try out the new service and made him an ad spot for this first month...)  Interested? The spots are a nice big size: 215 X 150 (let me know if you need help with this). 

Here's what you gotta do: contact me with info in order to get a Hell Razor badge up on your site (sponsor info link, email, size requirements, etc.).  THEN, you need to go to my advertise page and "buy" the $1 ad.  Be sure to enter promo code HRSWAP to get a 100% discount. Yep, totally free, no credit card needed. The reason I'm using this particular system is that it's all automated!  How cool is that?

p.s. I'm actually sponsoring Rockin' Mama's blog this month, so be sure to check it out!

now playing:
Armageddon It by Def Leppard on Grooveshark

7.27.2012

House Tour: Bathroom!

bathroom sign

This post was really fun to create for a number of reasons.  First of all, most people don't think to make a big deal out of the bathroom when you give a house tour.  It's just like "yep, there's the bathroom... anyways let's go over here," but I really love my bathroom.  And I like being a little left-of-center.  Plus, it gave me an excuse to clean it (which is my most hated chore) since I knew I was going to photograph it for all to see.  Thankfully, Todd is an excellent helper and we were able to cross it off of our to-do list without a lot of hassle.  Now I have a nice clean bathroom (love that!) to boot.  Yayy!

bathroom wide shots

Here are a couple of overall shots of the room.  It's really wide and spacious, which is something that I loved about it when we were house shopping.  I actually ripped down a bunch of the wall tile (it went really high up) and there was a giant old ugly wall mirror I took down, too.  The sink and tub are still original (hence the not-quite matching peachy pink).

There are a couple of things most people notice when they first walk into the room.  Number one is the color.  I am so not afraid of color.  In fact, I kind of have a real dislike for plain white walls for the most part.  I knew from the beginning that this room was going to be a vivid red-violet.  I wanted it to feel like a jewelry box when you walked inside.  That was my inspiration for the whole room.

The second thing that people notice is that I have a chandelier in my bathroom!  This is a super easy decorating upgrade that anyone can use in their house.  I used to have this chandelier in our bathroom at our condo, and I loved it so much that it had to come with me.  I swapped out some boring builder-grade thing for it when we sold, and packed this baby away just for me.

chandelier

I made the chandelier even more prominent by adding a ceiling medallion (relatively easy to find at any home improvement store) and sprayed it black to match the metal of the chandelier.  Once this was installed, I felt like the boringness of the white ceiling was amplified, so I painted the ceiling a purply-gray (it's actually my kitchen color, repurposed) and layered a silver metallic paint over the top, using a dry-brush technique.  Ta-da!  Metallic ceiling that reflects my sparkly chandelier.

patterns and crystals

Since I was going the whole "jewelry box" theme with the room, I knew that I needed some jewels in the form of crystal accents in the room.  I swapped out the horrible original cabinet knobs (they weren't even retro awesome, I suspect they may have been replaced once already) with these crystal glass knobs, seen above left.  They were more expensive than standard brushed nickel knobs, but totally worth it for the effect it gives (and most people don't have as many knobs to replace in a bathroom as, say, a kitchen, right?  So not so bad!).

Another place that I added jewelry was the shower curtain!  These chandelier crystals, which I attached to simple standard metal shower curtain hooks, are actually plastic.  I think you may need to order them online (check a crafty store first, they might have them) - but ours were actually free.  They're the crystal chandelier pieces from our wedding centerpieces!  Our florist (who's a family member) gave us the crystals after the wedding was over, and I love being able to repurpose them in our home.

Also above, you can see our shower curtain (gray and black).  It reminded me of the chandelier and I knew it would go perfectly with my theme, so I spent a little bit more than usual on it.  Mixing low-cost items with a few strategic splurges always seems to pay off.  I believe I found the shower curtain at Bed Bath & Beyond.  I couldn't find it on their website, but boy, do they have a good selection!

Next to the shower curtain is a closeup of the towels I currently have hanging in the bathroom.  I chose this bright turquoise color simply because I knew it would pop in a room otherwise covered in red-violet, black, white, and gray.  I also have towel sets in gray with black scroll borders, black and white polka dots, black and gray stripes... and I'm constantly on the lookout for a purple patterned set that I love!  My favorite place to find fun bath towels is Home Goods.

towels and shelf

If you're a regular reader of my blog, it's no surprise that I like to decorate by using unusual items, or by using ordinary items in a new way.  This black mantle-style shelf used to have a home in our old dining room at our condo, so I repurposed it here in our bathroom.  It's just the right size to hold pretty perfume bottles or a candle (see more about my perfume bottles here).  The wall clock is to help me stay on track in the mornings!

Our other artwork in the bathroom (top right) is made from tattoo stencils that I matted and framed.  They are from actual tattoos that Todd and I have (the top one is mine, from my foot tattoo, and the bottom one is Todd's from the back of his calf).  It used to hang in our workspace/office at the condo, and somehow it looks just right in its new home here!

sink mirrors counter

The last space I have to share with you is the counter and sink space.  I told you that I took down a huge ugly mirror when we first moved in.  I ended up using two mirrors from our old dining room (they had gold frames) and spray-painted the frames black before hanging them side-by-side to create an awesome wall of mirrors.  The heavy intricate black frames match really well with the scrollwork on the chandelier and the shower curtain pattern.

Our sink (which hopefully one day in the future will become a double sink) is still original, and so is our countertop.  I actually really like the countertop pattern, but we'll probably have to replace it when the day comes to get new sinks.  But that's not anytime soon.  I have a few fun accessories around the sink (pictured below), like our soap dispenser (from Target) and our toothbrush cup, which I made on the pottery wheel last year and glazed using purple, black and white just for the bathroom!

Some other unusual accessories/decorations include: Vic the Velociraptor, whom I purchased on Etsy (the humidity seems to be working well for him), and my lego soap, which is from Berwyn Betty.  I use a small plastic silver glitter hors d'oeuvre plate as a soap dish (again, an easy tip for anyone to use in their house).

sink

One last organization tip comes from a variation of a Pinterest idea.  I had seen images of cake stands being used in the kitchen to hold soap and the like, so I thought I'd try out using my gigantic Crate and Barrel server stand to hold junk in the bathroom.  Well, I have a rather large countertop so this idea works out really well for me.  I actually had no place to store this giant stand in the kitchen, and it was collecting dust on top of the fridge - so this was perfect!  It holds my makeup brushes on top, along with other bottles and things.

I use glass science-y beakers in the bathroom to hold things like q-tips, cotton balls, and makeup sponges.  I came up with that idea when I saw them in use at the MAC counter.  Too cool.  I purchased my own via American Science and Surplus.  I also use a small black teacup as a holder for my rings, bobby pins, earrings, and small clips at the end of the day.

organization

Wow.  That was a really long post.  I told you I liked my bathroom.  Who knew I could go on and on about it like that?

So, yeah... do you have a house tour on your blog that I can snoop around on?  Lemme know!

WW Update (for those of you who are curious): I stayed the same this week.  I continued using the same eating/mental habits as last week, and I'm in the "assessment" phase of my Active Link device, so the instructions say to keep to your usual activity levels.  My assessment phase ends today, so I'm going to try to up my movement (maybe start the stationary bike?) and I am hopeful that next weigh-in will be pretty good news!

now playing:
Black by Sevendust on Grooveshark

7.26.2012

Rediscovering the things that you love

place setting

Several weeks back, Todd decided to start going through boxes we still had stored under the stairs.  Turns out that we had a lot of dishes packed away that we hadn't used in a long time.  We decided to keep the things we really loved and thought we would actually use, and to recycle/give away those things that we were just keeping in storage because we didn't have the room or had too much of.

Since we had finally finished the china cabinet in the kitchen eat-in area (see my post about the dining room), we had a little bit of extra room for storage, so it was actually fun to sort through what we had and make some selections.

Our main "dishes" are from Crate and Barrel, nothing too fancy - it's what we registered for when we got married.  They're a crackle off-white glaze with black rims on them.  The basic style lends itself well to mixing with other dishes, like solid black, black and white, and pops of color, like green and blue.  Here are some of my favorite pieces to mix in!

fire king

I "rediscovered" a set of 8 Fire King mugs in a beautiful translucent pale blue that I had packed away long ago.  I decided to instead put away my set of 8 Crate and Barrel standard cream/black rim mugs (part of our basic sets) in exchange for these beauties as everyday use items.  They're vintage, and remind me of Jadeite, only in blue.  So pretty!

collage of 3

We have an eclectic collection of glasses and barware (above left).  We seem to pick up sets of 2 and 4 glasses all over the place.  The white and smoke glasses were bought new (heck if I can remember where), and the tall black and white "pick up sticks" glasses are from Crate and Barrel (long ago, I couldn't find them online), but look really vintage, so they blend in well.

I do have a very small collection on Jadeite pieces, such as my set of 4 small plates.  You can see one of them here (top right).  They look great mixed in with our black and white color scheme.  Our clear glass plates with black floral pattern layer really well with the rest of the dishes, too.  I think they might be from IKEA.  That store is an excellent source for black and white pieces, if you're in the market to shop for dishes.

Below is a black matte finish bowl with a subtle black gloss floral pattern.  I think we actually found these at Target!  You can also find similar pieces at World Market; I'm pretty sure we've bought some black matte pieces there as well.  Again, the black bowls complement the black rims on our main set.

bowls

The photo above doesn't really do the white bowl justice.  Todd and I picked up these wispy white/clear glass bowls (perfect for pasta or stew-like dinners; also for salads!) at Pier 1 Imports on super sale (we can't afford the regular prices there!).  Can you spot me reflected in the spoon?  Ha ha!

I'm trying to show you here that it's pretty simple to customize your own coordinated set of dishes by choosing a theme (usually a color story) to help integrate plain and fancy dishes; new and old (ahem, vintage) dishes, and to not worry too much about having something break or become damaged.  You can swap out pieces from different sets and make your overall collection even more special and one-of-a-kind.

Do you have a similar mix-and-match philosophy at your home?  Dishes are one of my most favorite things to shop for - share some pictures with me!

now playing:
Refuse/Resist by Sepultura on Grooveshark

7.25.2012

Miss Lou and Award Number Two

...Hey, that title sounds like a Dr. Seuss book. Hmm.

Do you read Miss Lou's Blog, Elousions?  Well, on Monday she did this wardrobe post where she had on some Hell Razor accessories that I sent her!  She looks super cute, so if you haven't had the opportunity to stop by, please do so.  Remember you can always buy your own Hell Razor accessories at the Etsy shop, or contact me if you're interested in doing a giveaway (or other ideas, I'm always open to suggestions) on your blog!

Miss Lou

In other news, I just got nominated for a second blog award.  As per my previous post regarding blog awards, I'll definitely answer questions, but won't "tag" other people to continue the chain.
Here goes:

This is a Liebster Award given to me by Amber at Wind and The Willow.

Other than the nominating other people part, the rules state that you have to post 11 things about yourself, and you have to answer 11 questions posted by whoever nominated you.

11 Facts About Me:
(this is hard because I just did this a few days ago...)

  1. My astrological sign is Aries.
  2. My favorite band in middle school was Def Leppard, and it's still in my list of top bands!
  3. I'm pretty excited about the new Baz Luhrmann movie "The Great Gatsby" featuring Leo DiCaprio because it reminds me of Baz's Romeo and Juliet, which I love.
  4. I twist my hair when I'm in the car driving and I'm impatient.  I don't even realize I'm doing it most of the time.
  5. I also pick at my nail polish once it starts to chip off.  I can't leave it alone.
  6. I like to personalize things with decorations or stickers.  I like things to look "cute."
  7. I'm more of a spender than a saver.  I have to work on that.
  8. I like to cook, but my strength lies in making dinner more than making dessert.  I'm not so good at baking.
  9. I have a personal vendetta against Dell computers.  We have them at work and I hate them.  They never work right, and they don't last.
  10. Speaking of things I don't like... TOMS.  They're ugly.  I don't get it.  People are buying the knockoff ones right now, so that doesn't even give shoes to needy children.  Plus, just making them glittery doesn't make them any better or more fashionable.  Aargh! 
  11. Uggs and Crocs and go right in that same "horrible trend" category as TOMS.  Why, people, why?!!!

Amber's 11 Questions to me are:
1. What was the last movie, TV show or book that made you cry?

I saw The Avengers last week and when Iron Man was flying into the wormhole to save the earth, I got a little teary...

2. If you were to win the lottery,what would you do with the money?
Easy.  Quit work.  Open and run my own business; not care if it's successful because I'm rich!  Give a bunch of money to my family members so they're comfortable too.

3. What is a song that you're listening to on repeat lately?
The new No Doubt single "Settle Down."

4. What chore do you hate doing?
Cleaning the bathroom.  Worst job ever.

5. What are some things that help you relax?
Computering.  Playing Plants vs Zombies on my phone or iPad.

6. What story does your family always tell about you?

Usually some anecdote where I'm being a bossy kid, like the time I took all of my birthday presents and locked myself in the bathroom so no one else could play with the toys except me.  I'm the oldest, so I think that's where the bossiness comes from...

7. What is the farthest you have ever been from home?

Not too far, probably Canada.  California?  Which is farther?  I'm in the midwest, so maybe California is farther...

8. Name a movie that you could watch over and over again.

The Cable Guy.  I freaking love that movie.

9. What is one of your favorite quotes?

"Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible." - Frank Zappa

10. If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
Tattoo.  Anyone wanna teach me?

11. What do you miss most about being a kid?

Not having to worry about bills; less responsibility.  That's about it.  There's a lot of sucky parts about being a kid that we tend to forget about when we're older.  It wasn't always so great.

Thanks again to Amber for the nomination!

now playing:
When I Grow Up by Garbage on Grooveshark

7.24.2012

A Visual History

Set 1

I've been messing around with my iPhoto software lately, and it's always interesting to see photos of yourself from the past.  These days it mostly revolves around "aargh I was so much thinner!" because of the baby now and stuff... sigh.  But I thought I'd share the visual history of me.  The top three photos are from high school era Jen.  Actually, I just realized they're out of order.  It should be the one in the plaid shirt first (that's freshman year), then the "Just a Girl" t-shirt (hell yeah No Doubt!), and then the black dress with the choker.  Whatever.

The end photo on the right is actually a big jump from high school Jen to teacher Jen.  I'd say that's about 6 years after the black dress/choker pic.  Maybe even seven or eight.  There's a section of my life where very few photos exist and I was as heavy then as I am right now.  Huh.  Was I smarter then to just avoid the camera altogether?  I don't know.

Set 2

The photo on this left end above is when Todd and I first started dating.  So that's 2006.  The blue hair shot on the right is from 2008, so I'd guess the motorcycle one in the center to be about 2007.

Then below, the top two photos are from right around our wedding, which is June of 2009.  In fact, the pink & black striped shirt is from our "mini"-moon in downtown Chicago.  We never actually went on a real honeymoon.  We were in a horrible real estate situation and had no money to go on one.  Now we have Iggy, so I don't know.  I've always wanted to go to Hawaii.  Todd said for our 5 year anniversary we can go to Vegas and have Elvis remarry us, which is awesome.  So there's always that.

Set 3

After our wedding, I messed around with coloring my blond streak again, so the picture on the left is from when I dyed it bright red, which of course fades to pinky orange almost immediately.  Hence, that was a very short phase.  Then I said forget it altogether and just blacked out all of my hair and cut bangs, which was also for a short stint until I decided to bring back the streak and make it purple, which is where I've been with it for over a year now, I think.  (Need a more recent photo?  Check Sunday's post, or my about page.)

So, hair is all good.  The body is not.  I know I'm working on it but it's so easy to get discouraged at the very very slow pace at which things work.  Maybe I'm having an off day today.  I think I'm starting to get depressed that school starts again so soon.  Those back to school ads depress me.  I wish the economy didn't suck so hard and I had other options.  Sigh.


now playing:
Walk by Pantera on Grooveshark

7.23.2012

Easy Greek-Style Dressing Recipe

Easy Greek-Style Dressing

I had a very happy surprise this week at Weight Watchers after a somewhat disappointing last week... I lost 2.8 pounds, so I'm almost where I need to be to be truly back on track.  In celebration, I'd like to share my new favorite salad dressing recipe with you.  I think I've eaten one of these salads every day for the last 3 or 4 days now.  I make a really simple salad with iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, green (or red) pepper, onion, and light feta.  Then this dressing.  It's not quite an Italian dressing, I think of it as more of a Greek dressing, and it's based loosely off of a couple of recipes I skimmed from assorted internet sources.  I cook that way a lot, actually.  I'll think "hmm how do I roast potatoes?" and then I'll find three different recipes and use the time/temps from one of those with the seasonings from another... it usually works out.  Here goes:

Ingredients

Greek "House" Dressing
Ingredients:
  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 tbsp Dijon-style mustard 
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar 
  • garlic powder 
  • onion powder 
  • dried oregano 
  • dried basil 
  • salt & pepper 
Directions:
Whisk mustard and vinegar together in a small cup. Pour olive oil and mustard/vinegar mixture over salad. Sprinkle seasonings as desired. Mix salad thoroughly. Makes enough for one large salad.

Yum.

Salad

My salad here includes some marinated teriyaki tofu from Trader Joe's.  That stuff is so good, you can slice it up and eat it on a sandwich. Mmm...tofu sandwich...

Oh yeah, I have one more Weight Watchers-related bit of news to share.  This week, I purchased the ActiveLink at my meeting.  It's a tiny activity monitor that keeps track of your movement (kind of like a tiny USB wii controller that you wear) and sets up personal goals for you to achieve based off of your present levels of activity.  It takes 8 days for the initial assessment before I actually start receiving any goals, so I'll have to check back again to share how that's going.  Right now I hardly do any activity at all.  My feet are still aching from the planter fasciitis from when I was pregnant (yayy) if I do any extended walking, I pay for it dearly the next day.  Nice, huh?

I'm thinking that next week I'll start riding the stationery bicycle for short periods of time, assuming I get cooperation on the Iggy front.

Got any activity ideas for a girl with bum feet?

now playing:
The Arms of Sorrow by Killswitch Engage on Grooveshark

7.22.2012

Two in one week!

Me and Iggs

So, I've been spending the better part of my weekend catching up on blog posts (via Bloglovin' - it's my favorite blog reader) and I was super excited to catch TWO mentions/links to my blog on two other blogs in the past week!  How awesome is that?

The first was Natalie at Bake and Destroy, who linked up my blog post about "Bowls of Stuff" in her (much better) explanation of what it is and how to make it.

The second was Danielle at Sometimes Sweet in her "Weekend Links" post.

This was two really fun discoveries that really made my weekend - especially after finding out I had not made a craft show I had applied to in November this year.  It definitely made me feel better!

Thank you so much ladies!

now playing:
Burn by The Cure on Grooveshark

7.21.2012

Blog Awards. Thoughts?

Recently, I was tagged in a blogger award post. The rules for accepting the award are as follows:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you
2. Include a link to their blog
3. Include the award image in your blog post
4. Give 7 random facts about yourself
5. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award
6. When nominating, include a link to their site
7. Let the bloggers know they have been nominated

versatile blogger

Okay.  First of all, I'd like to say thank you, Kat, of Mom, Uncensored.  It was very nice of you to think of me and reference the Hell Razor blog on your blog.  I truly appreciate that.

The award image is listed above, so now onto #4 - seven random facts about myself.  This is hard because I've done something similar on my about page anyways... but here goes:
  1. I love Diet Coke.  I drink too much and I'm trying to cut back on it.
  2. I wish I had a Boston Terrier.  I want to name him Ronnie James Dio, but in the meantime, I just named my external hard drive that instead.
  3. I wish I could quit teaching and become a professional tattoo artist.  But 33-year-olds with a baby and a mortgage don't exactly have the opportunity (financially or time wise) to find and complete an apprenticeship...
  4. I'm in the process of trying to completely eliminate cable tv from our house.  It's a waste of money, and we have an Apple TV and Netflix.  Seems unnecessary and expensive in today's economy.
  5. My favorite Xbox game is Rockband, and I like to be the band singer.
  6. I'm really good at playing devil's advocate in discussions (even when I totally agree with the person I'm having a discussion with), and it can sometimes come across as antagonistic.  Whoops.
  7. I keep toying with the idea of cutting my long hair shorter, but I know that if I do, I'll instantly wish that I hadn't.
As far as instructions #5, 6, & 7 go... I'm going to politely decline them.  I decided to go along and play the blog award game, but I'm not going to pass it along, since it can sometimes come across as a little "chain-letter-y" to me.  I don't think it's everybody's cup of tea?  

I in NO WAY feel like I'm too good for, or "above" anyone else out here, so I definitely won't ignore somebody who takes the time to reference me or Hell Razor on their blog and/or give me an award.  I think it's really sweet.  But I'm way too self-conscious to call out other people to respond to an award I give out.  Who the hell am I?  Definitely no kind of authority on blogging, that's for sure.  I just write junk that I feel, and if you like it, great.  If not, feel free to not read.  That's okay too!

I hope that makes sense.  I don't know how others feel, and I realize that despite my best efforts to state this in a kind and respectful manner, I may be alienating a certain portion of the blogging world, but I'm putting it out there anyway...  Thoughts?

now playing:
Prequel to the Sequel by Between the Buried and Me on Grooveshark

7.20.2012

Jen's Random Blog...

Ronald McDonald

This blog post refers to a number of things.  Mostly that I discovered an old export file on my computer yesterday from my very first blog (which I deleted back in 2009, right before Todd and I got married).  I had titled it "Jen's Random Blog" because I wrote in it very randomly... mostly it consisted of mobile blog posts I made with cell phone photos and a caption (see above for a pretty good example).  That part was kind of humorous.  The other posts involved what I was reading, what movies I had seen, and what concerts I was going to.  That brought back good memories.  And sometimes I would rant or complain about something (hmm I don't do that, do I?) so it was interesting to go back and look at it all.  I kept it from 2007 to 2009, so that's quite an accomplishment!  (If you're interested, I was able to bring my blog "back to life" by creating an entirely new blog via blogger and importing the old export file I had discovered.  Not all of my photos still worked, but many of them did.  I didn't make this new one a public blog though.  It was just for me to read.)

The screenshot below is part of my blog post all the way back from March 5, 2008:

engaged

I enjoyed the fact that I was able to re-live my documentation of important life events like that.  There are some other, longer, more in-depth posts on that blog that I may need to revisit and/or republish on here, but that's for another time.  Ah, memories...

But this post title also refers to other "random" news bits to share.  I was really excited this week about two things: my new external hard drive, whom I named Ronnie James Dio (center photo below - I decorated him with an awesome Tokidoki sticker), and the fact that I discovered how to change my Mac icons to other fun pictures (see pic on left below).

triptych

Here's where I got my new icons from.  There are tons of fun choices, although I tend to be partial to food with faces and cute monsters.

Oh, and since it's part of the picture but I didn't mention it, the photo booth strip is from the Double Door in downtown Chicago.  Stephanie's husband Dave had a show there with his band, Man Called Noon.  I love photo booths.

Lastly, are you as super excited about a new No Doubt single as I am?  The answer: yes, you better be. Because it's awesome.

now playing:
Settle Down by No Doubt on Grooveshark

7.18.2012

Field Trip: Chicago Diner

Chicago Diner
All photos via Yelp

Yesterday I told you that I was going on a (very) belated birthday trip downtown to The Chicago Diner.  Todd took me for lunch!  So, we got grandma to babysit for the afternoon, and drove down to 3411 N. Halsted.  The first thing that I was all excited about was that it's right across the street from Chicago Male, which is a salon that Todd and I had seen on an episode of Tabitha's Salon Takeover.  (You know, it was one of those "omg that's from TV!" moments... ha ha)

But the main reason for our trek downtown was lunch.  The Chicago Diner is a vegetarian/vegan restaurant.  I can go in and order ANYTHING off the menu and not have to scour it for hidden meat ingredients!  Woo hoo!  That's the #1 most awesome part, because I don't know of any vegetarian restaurants in the suburbs (Do you know of one?  Lemme know!!!).  But also, the food is very delicious.

Interior

I have to admit, I'm a total self-conscious geek when it comes to taking photos at new places like this.  I don't want to stand out, so I don't take any photos at all, or sometimes I'm just having so much fun that I forget to take any!  So, uh, yeah, I don't have any of my own photos to share here.  I borrowed these from Yelp (see link below top photo).

We sat down, ordered a couple of drinks, and carefully searched the menu.  Todd and I both decided to go with the reuben sandwich.  I wanted to order something that I couldn't just make at home.  You know, I've already eaten many many veggie burgers.  I can buy and make veggie meatballs, veggie sausage, veggie bacon, etc etc etc.  But I had never had a reuben sandwich!  They use seitan in place of the beef, and it has cheese (you can get vegan cheese or dairy cheese), sauerkraut, and (vegan) thousand island dressing.  Yum.  You get to choose a side from off of a list with many delicious options.  Todd got mashed potatoes and gravy.  I got the steamed greens.  Both were very very good.

Reuben
The reuben sandwich.  This one is with mashed potatoes and kraut on the side.

The Chicago Diner has a vegan bakery for lots of dessert options, too!  I skimmed the menu, but I was so full by the time I finished my lunch that I didn't even go that route.

My verdict?  I will definitely return here, even though I felt a little out of place... it's very... hipster-y.  Like I should have ridden my bike here and worn an ironic t-shirt.  Todd should have fashioned his moustache into a handlebar.  We should have stretched our earlobes (I do NOT get that trend...).  But the food was good enough to give it another visit next time we're downtown.  

My first choice when visiting the city still has to be Kuma's, but the wait is SO long most of the time, I may have to start making The Chicago Diner an alternate route.

now playing:
Paralyzed by Rock Kills Kid on Grooveshark

7.17.2012

Couldn't decide what color to paint them.

Two Hands

I used to like to post about my nail polish, but now there's this whole big surge of "nail art" out there. I'm just not "it."  Seriously.  I know I can never compete with that, and I'm not even interested in trying.  I just like to paint my nails fun colors.  It's not fancy, but oh well.

So, I couldn't decide on Monday night what color to paint my nails.  I decided to use four different polishes and do each hand a different polish/overlay combination.  On my left hand, I used purple polish with a small green glitter polish overlay.  On my right hand, I used turquoise polish with a medium purple/silver glitter polish overlay.

I didn't photograph the bottles of polish like I usually do.  Whoops.  Well, none of the polish is new.  The purple polish and purple glitter is OPI and/or OPI for Sephora.  The turquoise polish is China Glaze, and the green glitter is Sinful polish.  I buy the China Glaze/Sinful polishes at Walgreens, but the OPI is from either Sephora or Ulta.

Nails Closeup

Today I am going on a fun day down in the city with Todd.  We're finally going to go out to eat for my birthday... which was in April... um, yeah.  At least it's happening!  I requested Chicago Diner, so hopefully I'll have some fun things to share with you about that soon!

now playing:
Fire by Dead By Sunrise on Grooveshark

7.16.2012

Baby's Room Keepsake Art

Baby Room

I have an idea I used in Iggy's room to share with you.  When Iggy was a few months old, I went on a shopping excursion with my friend Stephanie.  Among the stores we stopped at was Psychobaby, where you can make your own custom-printed onesie.  Well, that was just too cool for me, so I spent around $25 (I think?!) to get a black onesie with red trim customized with Iggy's name across it in a tattoo font.  I bought it in 3-6 month size, thinking it'd last us awhile and Iggy would get to wear it many times... especially for that price!  And it wasn't like it would be passed down to another baby - it has his name on it!

Well, uh, turns out that the 3-6 month onesie ran a little small. Boo. And I was sad for quite a while.  But then I had an idea!  I would turn his onesie into art for his room!  I used a regular old IKEA frame and matted it with black matboard (I actually own a mat cutter at home - it's an art teacher thing, but it's paid for itself many many times over with framing artwork for us and my family - if you're at all interested, I strongly recommend buying one.  You don't even need to go fancy.  As long as it has the ability to bevel cut for your inner window, you're good to go.).

I put white matboard behind the black matboard frame.  The onesie itself is sandwiched between te matboard and glass of the frame.  IKEA frames have a good amount of wiggle room when it involves depth.  I did use some clear packing tape, rolled, to help hold the onesie to the matboard before sandwiching it in, but once you fold back the little metal tabs to hold the glass and board in, everything is pretty darn secure.

Framed Closeups

The result is pretty cool, if I do say so myself!  Now his $25 onesie is still being used.  We can all remember how teeny my little guy was, and he has some cool personalized artwork to decorate his room!

For more details and photos about Iggy's room, see my nursery tour post here.

I rarely go out and buy artwork specifically for my house.  I frame and hang all kinds of things you might not think to use as art.  This is just one idea, and hopefully you can use this inspiration to frame something meaningful to you!  It doesn't need to be "baby" themed.  Do you have a favorite t-shirt, a swatch of fabric, or a pair of socks or gloves just waiting to be displayed as art in your place?  Share!

now playing:
King Of Rock & Roll by Daniel Lioneye on Grooveshark

7.13.2012

Field Trip: Floyd's 99 Barbershop

Floyds interior

I have bad news, and I have good news...

The bad news is that my favorite hair salon, Rock Razor Scissors, has closed its doors.  Yep, that's right.  They are no longer.  Well, technically, they have plans to re-open in another location (they said within a year or so), and they're still doing hair for bands, but as for us regular folk, what do we do?!

Well, here's the good news: my hairstylist, Megan, works at Floyd's 99 Barbershop in downtown La Grange, IL!  Floyd's has another former RRS employee, Lauren, working there as well!  So if you're looking for somewhere to go, this is an excellent (and highly recommended) choice.

Contrary to the name, Floyd's is not just a barbershop.  They do men's, women's, and children's cuts.  They do "normal" hair, and they do hair like mine - purple!  Their prices are even reasonable.  You can walk in, or you can book an appointment with your favorite stylist (I always do because I love Megan!).  They're open 7 days a week, so I can always find time to go.  And it's actually much closer to my house than Rock Razor Scissors was.

Floyds Screenshot

As you may have guessed from the photos, Floyd's is a rock and roll-themed salon, much like Rock Razor Scissors was.  The main difference is that Floyd's is a chain, so you may have seen them at another location (they're located across the US, and have several shops in the Chicagoland area).

I happen to be partial to the La Grange location because of the employees.  I don't know what I'd do if Megan went away!!!  Floyd's 99 in La Grange is located at 71 South La Grange Road in La Grange, IL.  You can call them to book an appointment at (708) 639-4230.

now playing:
Spin The Bottle by Juliana Hatfield on Grooveshark

7.12.2012

what's NOT important.

Facebook Screenshot

I don't think it's a secret (if it was, sorry, now it's not!) that I hate Facebook.  I hate it, but I can't delete my account (which is what I really think I'd like to do) because last I checked, I had to have a personal account in order to have a "page" for Hellrazor.  Although now even that seems moot, since my pageviews have gone suspiciously down since Facebook did some "changes" or whatever.  I don't even know.  I don't trust them, that's for sure, and a whole bunch of other pages have posted a bunch of different stories (I refuse to just copy/paste status updates without knowing what's really true, so I end up ignoring a bunch of stuff) trying to explain what's going on.  But I'm on a tangent here, that's just one issue.  I don't even care that much about this part.

What I'm talking about is Facebook personal pages.  I have one (I actually share one account with my husband, we decided on this atypical approach together when we created the account - it eliminates the weirdness of who's friends with who and whatnot - we have no secrets!) and I didn't realize how I had become like a robot with it.  I'd have a free couple of minutes as I listened for the baby to go down for his nap, and I'd check the news feed.  I'd be waiting for dinner, I'd check the news feed.  Long line at the post office?  Yep, you guessed it, news feed.

What a waste of time.  And energy.  Mental space.  Stress.

I began to HATE seeing certain kinds of posts.  You've all seen them before.  Passive aggressive, attention-seeking vague posts from someone about how "life sucks," or "having a bad day," just to get someone to comment back "why?" and start up a big faux-sympathetic conversation.  Ugh.  Another guy plays those stupid online games and keeps sending you requests.  Ugh.  Someone else thinks that if we all just "copy and paste this post if you agree"  we'll cure cancer!  Or raise awareness of... underwear holes. Or dinosaur attacks.  Or insert-trendy-cause-here.  Whatever.

...And let's not forget the far-flung relative you never actually see, but "have" to accept as a friend, because they're technically family and you don't want to bring on any weirdness, but all they do is post crazy-ass propaganda about why Obama is a secret terrorist and the worst guy ever and he's "ruining the country!"  Sigh.  I hate this crap.  Unsubscribe?  Yes.

When I get really mad I end up actually posting something on Facebook about it.  And Todd always rolls his eyes at me like, "Oh what'd you do this time to tick people off?"  And you know what?

He's right.

I don't know why I let it get to me.  It's Facebook.  It's like trying to fight with a toddler throwing a temper tantrum.  There's no actual reasoning or logic.  There's no smart to be had.

Then even little stuff gets to me.  When I was trying to breast-feed Iggy and failing horribly at it (that's a story for another time though), a co-worker innocently posted about how much she was pumping, and how she could feed twins if she had to, she had so much milk!  I BURST INTO TEARS.  Sure, it was an innocent (albeit kinda TMI weird, even for Facebook) comment, but you really don't know what your audience is going to be into when you post stuff like this!

Lately it's posts about how people's babies are sleeping through the night... well you know what?  Mine is NOT.  Thanks for making me feel like crap though.  I thought I was doing pretty well with just one wake up, but apparently, Facebook, that wasn't good enough.

Also, I'm pretty sure you're familiar with the "I have the best husband/wife EVARRR!" post.  Really?  And you had to broadcast it on Facebook?  How about just turning around and telling them to their face?  And why do you need to say happy birthday to your little kid or mom or grandmother who isn't even on Facebook as a status update?  They'll never see it!  But somehow you're a better person for it, right?  Grrr...

Ok.  I could go on and on forever with this topic.  Each day I find something new to bother me about it.

Until now.

Todd, the genius that he is (did I also mention that he is THE BEST HUSBAND EVARRR?!) brought up a really good point.  Stop looking at it.  I may not be able to just delete the account (due to the Hellrazor page, and his stuff), but I don't have to look at it.

I'm two days down so far.  And life has been so much better.  I haven't missed any life-shattering announcements (as far as I know, but hey, ignorance is bliss!), and I also haven't closed up my phone or computer wanting to punch myself in the face.  Let's see how long this lasts.

Are you with me?

now playing:
Givin Up by The Darkness on Grooveshark

7.10.2012

New Toys: Monster High

Monster High

This weekend, I treated myself to two new Monster High dolls.  Yep, you heard right.  I bought myself two new dolls.  I have a big u-shaped shelf in my art studio that I keep toys and things and items that are visually interesting to me.  I love those darn Monster High dolls.  There are so many girl's toys that I hate nowadays (Ugh those hideous Bratz dolls?  Why would any parent let their child have one?), so when I find one that I like, I have trouble holding back.  If I am lucky enough to have a daughter one day, I promise to share (assuming she's into this kind of thing), but for now I bought them just for me.

The doll on the left is Abbey Bominable, the daughter of the Yeti.  That seemed pretty damn metal to me, and she has fangs.  The one on the right is Ghoulia Yelps, the daughter of the zombies.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find her "original" doll, just the slumber party version.  But I love her cat eye glasses and long blue hair.  Daughter of zombies?!  Awesome. (Whoa.  I just went online and apparently the original Ghoulia Yelps is out of stock/not available and people are asking $61 for her on Amazon!  Uh, no thanks...)

Monster High 2

I already own two other Monster High dolls, a Draculaura and a Frankie Stein.  Talked about the Frankie Stein doll just over a year ago when I first got her, and now the collection has grown to four.  Apparently, after some window shopping via the internet, these things are pretty darn collectible.  But I pulled mine right outta the box, tossed the boxes (take that, collectors!!!) and put them on display.

So, yeah.  I have little kid toys in my collection.  Is there anything out of the ordinary, or unexpected, that you collect?

now playing:
Exit Music (For A Film) by Radiohead on Grooveshark

7.09.2012

My favorite baby item

grass drying rack

My friend Beth is expecting a new baby in January (hey right around when Iggy turns 1!!!) and we were hanging out on Friday.  We can't NOT talk about baby stuff.  I try not to overpower her, but I know she's excited, too.  One of our conversations involved baby registries, and what items were "necessary" vs "unnecessary."  Well, I have to admit, the item that might just be my favorite was this grass drying rack by Boon .  Is it necessary, like diapers or a crib?  Er, not really in that same class of importance, but how can you resist it?  It's so cute!  And I have to admit, when I was given my drying rack at my baby shower, I opened it up right away and we used it even before the baby was here.

This drying rack is really unique because it hold basically any item upright for drying.  It works on wine glasses, vases, bottles, and all kinds of non-baby items!  So, even if you're not expecting, you might still want to snag one of these for your kitchen.  It looks super fun on the counter.  Not convinced yet?  Well, there's more!

twig and stem

Boon just came out with two new accessories for the grass drying rack!  One is called Stem, and the other is Twig.  They fit right onto your grass drying rack anywhere you want, and hold smaller items to dry so that you can fit more larger items on the grass area.  See below for a demonstration:

twig and stem 2

These accessories were so cute that I couldn't decide which one to get.  The Stem (flower) comes in three colors: blue, white, and magenta.  The Twig (branch) comes in two: gray or white.  I chose to stay away from any white because it might get dirty more easily.

I was a little sad to discover that Boon has since made the grass drying rack in a larger version, called Lawn.  Sad for me because I definitely would have gotten the larger one, had it been available when I registered for Iggy!

Also, all of the links here go to Amazon.com, but I bought all of my Boon items in person at Buy Buy Baby.  They seem to be a few dollars cheaper there, plus you can easily score 20% off coupons to use for extra savings!

now playing:
Redneck by Lamb of God on Grooveshark
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