Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hey Batter Batter

For my sister's birthday, she had a little get together at a bar. But not just any bar, a bar with batting cages. Who thinks of these things?

Anyway, the food was amazing, the drinks were strong, and the batting cages were cheap, so it was a great night.

My sister, who I lovingly called Sailor Jupiter all night, even batted in her brand new nautical dress from our mother. {Sidenote: apparently I meant Sailor Mars. She looked like Sailor Mars, not Sailor Jupiter. I don't know why this is important to me, but it really just is.}

Please excuse the poor quality of the pictures. It was dark, through a chain-link fence, with my phone.

She did pretty good, all "A League of Their Own" style.

There's something you should know about Dan. His natural athleticism dazzled me when we started dating. He could do just about anything with no effort.

But we never tried baseball, which was probably a good thing. He tried very hard, but it is not on the long list of things that come naturally to him.

And wouldn't you know it? No one took a picture of me having a go at it. Would you believe it's because I was so awesome they were awe-struck and too distracted to take pictures? Yeah, I wouldn't either. But I did manage to make contact a couple of times, so it wasn't a complete failure.

Monday, January 20, 2014

How to Celebrate a Woman's Birthday

My birthday is coming up at the end of the month and it's already stressing out my husband. As narcissistic as it sounds, my birthday is my favorite holiday. Growing up, I had some birthdays go very, very poorly, so I always set my hopes too high, wishing to finally have that perfect day.

I have a feeling most men feel anxiety when it comes to their ladies' birthdays/Valentine's Day/anniversaries, so here you are gentlemen. The unbridged list of how all women really want to spend these days. (Assuming your lady wants to be surprised by the day)
  • Sleep in real nice and late.
  • Wake up to breakfast. There should be options, they can come from a box, but they shouldn't still be in the box. Presentation boys.
  • Have a plan. Only let her in on it as she needs to know.
  • Have a schedule, know how long things will take, and have small ideas to fill any little windows in time. 
  • At some point, plan something so she has an excuse to dress up. Cute dress, fancy eye make-up, those shoes she has but never has a reason to wear. 
  • Offer her presents, preferably some small and sparkly. A classy piece of jewelry. Simple and pretty. The kind she'll wear until she's 80 and then give to her favorite granddaughter.
  • At the end of the night, change into pajamas, cuddle up, and do something quiet together. 
  • Don't panic. Step up, take charge, and be her knight in shining armor. Odds are, 364 days out of the year, she does all the worrying, wrangling, and planning. Take the burden off of her. 
  • Make her feel like a star. Celebrate her. Don't just go through the motions because it's your 'duty'. Show her that you care. 
  • Don't be cheap. I'm not saying spend money for the sake of 'proving your love', but it truly is the time to buy her that thing she can never justify buying for herself (cough*elephant painting*cough)
  • Ideas for things to do if your birthday also happens to fall at the end of the month: movies at the end of January are never any good so avoid those, dinners with courses or set menus, parties for the Chinese New Year, nothing Valentine's Day related, nothing Super Bowl related, Cirque Du Soleil is in town, or something completely random like watching a college gymnastics competition. 
Ok, I'm now distracted by the premiere of 'Sherlock', so hopefully those are enough tips to help you out.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Project House Update: A Bed, Finally

Look! We finally have, after having a king size mattress for five years, a king sized bed!

We've been officially looking for a bed since we painted the room, roughly a year and a half. 

Up until now, we've using a dresser as a headboard to keep the wall clean.

After much searching and scouring of the internet, Dan and I finally agreed on the Farmhouse bed from Pottery Barn. We even took a detour in a trip across town to check it out in stores (since the store is 45 minutes away from our house).

It was a complete disappointment. Not only did they not have the bed in stores, I don't know how Pottery Barn survives when their customer service is that terrible. Maybe they're only used to yuppie rich soccer moms buying their stuff, but I could have stood in front of one of their sales people, jumping up and down with a fist full of cash, shouting, "I want to buy a bed" and they still would have ignored me.

So we decided it wasn't worth it and went back to the drawing board. If you're going to spend $1500 on a piece of furniture,you better be 100% sure about it and after that experience, we weren't. After some internet research, though, I came across this blog post about a knock-off version of the PB bed. It's called the "Hamden Bed". And more importantly, it was less than half the cost.

Dan waited for a sale and bought it up. That was at the beginning of November. Of course, it was on back-order. It finally shipped in the beginning of December. We anxiously followed the tracking information and were practically giddy when it said it had arrived in Tucson a couple of days later.

But then, nothing happened. We waited an waited. Christmas came and went and no bed. Dan called both World Market and the shipping company and got nowhere. Finally, after a ridiculous amount of effort on Dan's part, more than ever should have been required, our bed was finally delivered on January 2nd.

Since I'm recovering from a pretty gross cold, Dan managed to remove the old furniture and assemble the new in under two hours. He even broke out the new sheets we bought before Christmas.

I'm still not used to sleeping in a bed this tall. It feels like sleeping in a hotel. However, it's nice it's tall because it now hides the ugly intercom system.

And the cats can hide under it better. And balance on top of it.

Only two major issues remain with the room now. 1) Dan still needs to find a side table he likes. His current one is half of my desk from high school. 2) The headboard is so tall that my Star Wars Japanese tea towels don't fit above it.

Need to find another wall to hang them on and shuffle our stuff until I find something that does fit on this wall.

Oh no...I have to hunt for more art...I'm so sad...

Friday, January 10, 2014

2013: A Second Look

When I wrote my list of New Year's Resolutions, I was pretty negative about last year. The majority of the focus was on the fact that I didn't accomplish as much as I had hoped. However, after some further reflection, I did actually learn and do quite a lot, it just wasn't what I had expected at the beginning of the year.

So, here's a more positive overview of last year:
  • Nailed a smoky eye look.
  • Taken A LOT more pictures and A LOT better pictures. It's free to take them so why not take a whole bunch of absolutely everything and just delete the crappy ones. And I've taught myself about lighting, contrast, and viewpoint so my pictures are more clear and more focused.
  • Failed incredibly hard at something and survived. From someone who is an incredible perfectionist who doesn't even try things unless there's no possibility of failure, this is a big step. 
  • Developed a better sense of personal style.
  • Survived my first lay-offs (not that I was lay-offed, but at my company).
  • Dropped some weight (and promptly put it back on over Christmas). Point being, I've finally learned how to do it, which is really the tough part, right?
  • Carry less of the stress. Whether it be not letting the stress get to me or letting Dan worry about the tiny things that usually only bug my brain, less all-around stress.
  • Took better care of those around me. Whether it be the baby cats, or Turtle, or even Dan, they've gotten more love from me.
  • Become more of a force at work. After almost three years, I'm finally starting to feel like part of the team and carve a pretty nice niche out for myself. 
  • Learned to embrace the things I love. All the nerdiest and geekiest parts of my soul are up front.
  • Learned to embrace myself. Brief story. Back in 2007, I worked a summer internship in Michigan. Me and the other dozen people from my program were all housed in a dorm together. I remember vividly one of my roommates midway through the summer telling me she's glad I warmed up and got along with everyone so well because she was concerned about me at the beginning. I knew I was anti-social, but I never knew I was cold. Over the year since, I've tried very hard to open up to people better and the biggest strides have come in the past year. Maybe it's just part of getting older, but I'm just going to do me and I really don't care what someone else, especially someone new, thinks. The need to impress everyone is starting to fade.
The results were not as concrete as the potential outcome of my actual resolutions, but it was still a pretty good year.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Project House Update: A Million Tiny Cuts

It's been a while since I've updated you on the progress of the world's most infuriating fireplace. Here's what it's looking like right now!

But let's start at the beginning. When we last left it, it looked something like this:

We'd finished the dark tile edge and were about to start on the top.

In true Dan fashion, he began to question our decision to do tile. We both knew it was going to take many very precise cuts to make it look good since the surface is curved. I thought we could pull it off, but Dan wanted to fully exhaust the idea of using just one piece of stone, like a countertop. We agreed if we could find a company that would do it for less than $700 we would talk about it.

I sent emails to at least a dozen stone and countertop places in town and the lowest estimate I could find was about $1500. So, begrudgingly for Dan and happily for me, we went back to our original plan of marble subway tiles with a square border.

After laying the tiles out, Dan was more on board. We couldn't find a company that sold 4x4 inch marble tiles, so we bought 8x12 inch ones from Home Depot and cut them ourselves.

From there, Dan began setting all the tiles that wouldn't need any cuts. The spacers are 1/8 inch.

I'd really thought I'd taken more progress pictures, but apparently not. When cutting the tiles, the cuts along the rear edge of the fireplace don't need to be perfectly precise since the edge of the vertical tiles will cover any gaps. However, against the wall and the edge of the front curve, those edges can't be hidden, so they need to be absolutely perfect.

To achieve this perfection, Dan's plan has been to cut a handful of tiles at a time and set them before moving onto the next small batch. This ensures that any small tolerances can be accounted for in setting of the adjacent tiles. Fortunately, Dan's developed a strategy of making a template on the desired tile in cardboard, cutting it slightly larger than the template, and sanding it to fit. It's been taking a lot of time, but given how much of a perfectionist he is, it's paying off.

[Sidenote: the front edge is spaced differently than the subway tiles. The back edge is space using 1/16 inch spacers and the front edge is eyeballed to fit with the curve of the step. Dan wanted to use some sort of uniform spacing, but since nothing on this fireplace was made how it should have been, that turned out to be impossible.]

So, slowly but surely, progress is happening. Maybe, just maybe, the room will all back together by next Christmas.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Goals for 2014

Image Source
Maybe my head is in a bit of a dark place right now, but the thought of a whole new year is kind of making me depressed. 2013 just flew by and I don't feel like I made much of a dent in it. Looking back in thirty years, what will I remember of this past year? How did I grow and change?

Well, let's start by evaluating what I had hoped to accomplish.
  • Complete a 5K Color Run. Woot! Did that one! A+
  • Renovate something in our house, like a bathroom or one of the fireplaces. When we started on the fireplace, the goal was to have it done by Christmas. That came and went. It's worse than pulling teeth getting Dan to make any progress on it. D+
  • Complete a 10K run. I can't say I really completed it. That race was probably my biggest disappointment of the year. I should have trained more. I wasn't ready and I refused to admit it. I didn't put in the work and I failed. F
  • Take a vacation, one of the sit-on-the-beach-all-day kind. Nope, no beach in my year. F
  • Complete the Saguaro National Park 8 Mile Labor Day Run. After failing during the Cinco De Mayo run, I gave up running for a while. I couldn't train and I had the sense to know I was no where near ready to attempt an 8 mile run. F
  • Attend the Nutcracker Ballet. Again, I let pulling metaphorical teeth get in the way. I wanted to buy tickets, but I didn't know what our Christmas plans were until maybe the day we left for Havasu. Dan just wouldn't give me a straight answer or any sort of decision. I should have just pulled the trigger, bought the tickets, and worked Christmas around them. I need to stop being afraid of stepping on toes and just let myself be happy for a change. F
  • Buy tickets to a cocktail New Year's Eve party. Nope, that didn't happen either. F
  • Make some more friends. This is one we actually made a bit of progress on. By hanging out with people every week at trivia, it's expanded our little group. It's only been two or three people, but it's about quality not quantity, right? A-
  • Get out of the house more. If trivia counts, we did great! If it doesn't, we did terrible. C
  • Communicate better. This is a tough one. I feel like I said a lot more this year. I was more vocal about my opinions and thoughts. However, I don't necessarily know that I was heard more. C
Understand a bit better now why I'm feeling depressed? I barely got anything done that I had planned. I let laziness and the smallest of obstacles stand in my way. This year was kind of a wash. It just got away from me.

But not 2014. I'll officially be in my late 20's and I can't hide from growing up, sucking it up, and taking responsibility for myself. So, here's what needs to get done. Some big, some small, some from last year's list.
  • Take better care of myself
    • Get a new dentist
    • Get a new doctor
    • Go for more walks and hikes
    • Wear more lotion and wash my face more often before bed
    • Take up bellydancing again
  • Take another crack at the Cinco De Mayo 10K again.
  • Go to the Nutcracker Ballet
  • Stop making excuses
    • Finally buckle down and lose the newlywed weight
    • Be more of a force at work
    • Take a vacation!
    • Contribute more to the house remodeling
I'll keep these kind of vague, but I have an idea where I want all of this to go. The person I am and the person I keep thinking I am need to actually become the same person.

I think this year is going to be great. 2014 definitely has potential!