Monday, October 29, 2012

Project House Update: Prettying the Thermostat

If you're a frequenter of Pinterest, you've probably seen this image: framing your thermostat. Every house has one and, odds are, it sticks out like a sore thumb.

I've always thought about doing this in my house, but there seemed to be a couple of sticking points. First, most frames actually hang off of the insert that backs the framed image, not the frame itself. This means that to hang a frame with nothing in it, you need to add a hook somewhere on the frame. Secondly, because thermostats are fairly thick, you need a substantial frame to around it, otherwise, you aren't really disguising the thermostat at all. Lastly, maybe this is just me, but I hate wasting a frame. If I buy a frame, I want to use all of it to hang something pretty, behind glass.

The ideal solution would have been to stumble upon a lovely vintage frame at a garage sale, missing its glass. Instead, while I was hunting for another project yesterday at Michaels, I found something pretty cool. Empty frames! Empty frames that are meant to hang empty! [Side note: Michael's website a huge pain. I tried to find any links, but nothing in all of the internet. So, just trust me, Michael's has them. I found them back by the custom framing desk.]

I measured out my thermostat and went back to grab a frame that would fit it. I'd bet good money that your thermostat is also roughly 4.25 x 6.25 inches, so a 5 x 7 inch frame will fit it nicely.

The frame actually had four different spots from which you could hang it. I originally decided to use the two side hooks so that it would self level. And also, the frame is fairly cheap and the hooks on the top/bottom were way off center.

I used painter's tape to try and gauge where I would need to place my nails for it to be level.

It failed miserably. It was so bad. My husband decided that it would just be easier to reposition the hooks on the back than try and calculate where we needed to place the nail for each crooked hook.

Once he moved it, easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Here's what it looked like before:

And here's the after:

It makes the house so much classier! You know, in spite of the dinosaur poster...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Picked a Peck of Peppers

As I burn through my remaining vacation time, we spend three day weekends working on the house or taking day trips to enjoy the fall weather. Granted it's only 90 degrees instead of 110, but that's what counts as fall around here.

Friday, Dan and I took the two hour journey to Willcox, AZ, to go apple and produce picking!

Here we are, arriving at Apple Annie's.

My adorable husband, with his cheesy cowboy hat and Camelback, hunting for an apple tree that still has some apples left at the end of the season.

We found a good one and I lunged at it with the greatest weapon ever developed: the apple-picking staff. I may or may have gone up and down the rows of trees singing and reenacting the "Be A Man" song from Mulan...

Picking nearly perfect Asian Pears from high up in the tree.

We ended up with about a dozen apples and pears. I just need to now come up with a recipe to use them in. I've never made a pie before.

The other half of Apple Annie's is the produce. Here's Dan contemplating the perfect bell pepper. It took a lot of care and watch to keep him from filling up the bucket with all sorts of hot peppers: jalapenos, chiles, poblanos, habaneros, you name it.

Here's our beautiful bounty! A bowl of a rainbow of apples and pears and a whole other bowl of eggplant, peppers, and chiles.

The clock is now ticking on trying to use it all before it goes bad. I've incorporated some of the peppers and chiles into a batch of enchiladas, but I know I've got to come up with some more recipes pretty quick.

I do love our little fall tradition!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Middle School: The Remix

I now know that if you wanted to torture me, forcing me to carry on a conversation with a twelve-year-old girl will do just that. It's torture.

Image Source
Pressured by the only other female in my department, I signed up for this work-sponsored mentorship program. It's actually a great program that encourages girls from the poorer part of town to be involved in science and technology. Each girl is paired with a working work from my company and we do online activities together over the course of several months.

Someone failed to tell me, though, that I have to appear actually talk to this middle school girl four or five times throughout the program. Sounds easy enough, right?

Wrong. Apparently, I have blocked out all my memories of middle school, like a sane person.

Middle school was such a rough time for me, like any girl who wasn't tiny, confident, and pretty. I was kind of the new girl because I had only been at my elementary school for a year before entering middle school so I knew some people, but didn't really have any friends. And the only people I knew were now popular so they wouldn't acknowledge me in public (You may think this is an exaggeration, but my next door neighbor would only talk to me when we walked home from the bus. If there was anyone else around, she was horrible to me.)

Throw in puberty when I gained thirty pounds in the span of about six months to add to the physical awkwardness.

Add a bit of being the smartest person in every class so I was picked on by the boys (Again, not an exaggeration or bragging. I had a teacher who used to check the answer key against my tests to check HIS answers. Not great for trying to make friends.)

And now, somehow, I'm back in that cafeteria all over again. I see them and I have flashbacks that make my skin crawl with awkwardness. No matter how well dressed I am or how cool my job is (I work with robots, damn it! It's awesome!) or how cute my boyfriend (husband) is, there's the scent of judgement on the air and I suddenly can't breathe.

In an effort to distance myself from my own middle school history, middle school girls have become a completely separate species to me. If they were younger, I could talk to them about kid stuff, like dinosaurs and kittens. If they were older, I could talk to them about important stuff, like college and celebrity gossip. However, the twelve to fourteen age group has me completely stumped. I know understand why all my male coworkers complain about their preteen daughters: they are their own species and we must tread carefully as to not upset their delicate ecosystem.

I asked my sister for ice breakers because she works with middle schoolers:

"Just talk to them like regular people."

Ok, but do you have any tips?

"It's you. You're just not good at talking to people."


I asked one of my BFFs, Mitch, since he's student teaching middle school math:

"I show them cool pictures to break the ice, like how to make the Batman symbol on their graphing calculators. Is the mentor program through company name retracted because I think I know some of the girls involved?

Now I just feel like a jerk for forgetting which school he student teaches at...

I've got three more shots at this before I'm into the smooth sailing of online-only interactions. My plan has devolved into wearing a T-shirt with a cool picture on it and making some flashcards with questions about any show currently on the CW.

No way this can go wrong...