Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Big Three Oh

In my new strategy of posting nothing in a relevant time period, let's talk about my birthday. My 30th birthday. The big 3-0.

As crazy as this sounds, I had kind of been planning my 30th birthday party for over a year. Before my 29th birthday last year, Dan knew I wanted a Roarin' 20's party and he wanted to throw it together for me at the last minute. As a perfectionist and planner, that clearly wasn't acceptable in my eyes. So I decided to not have a 29th birthday party and got to thinking about the big one the following year.

While I tried too not go too crazy, I've always wanted to throw a real party. A theme that didn't seem thrown together with random things from around the house. I bought a set of 50 disposable champagne glasses to build a pyramid, a big metal tub for cans and bottles, and balloons. I love balloons so much and there really aren't enough excuses to have them. I finally painted my strings of lights that I bought from Target summer clearance years ago. They got a good coat of gold spray paint and hung in the dining room and kitchen. I found printable signs and a banner and made a drinks menu. I made a playlist of 1920's music.

The main reason I wanted to have an "End of the 20's" party was to have an excuse to buy a flapper dress. I love the Art Deco aesthetic so much. I spent weeks going through almost every dress on Unique Vintage until I finally settled on this one. I wanted something not backless, something sparkly and flashy, and something not so costume-y that I could wear it again. While the dress is reusable, the rhinestone headband probably isn't. Originally, I ordered a more subtle, timeless headband, it was on back-order so I got this one at the last minute from Amazon instead.

While most of Dan's outfit he already owned, like a button-down, trousers, and shoes, some new suspenders really made it look vintage. At least three of our friends also wore suspenders and there was a whole side conversation of just how functional they are. I was actually really amazed at how many of my friends dressed up. When you have a group of nerds who never get to dress fancy an opportunity, they go all out.

My friends gave me some great gifts, most of them dinosaur related. Two of my friends made me a dinosaur terrarium. They used an insanely strong epoxy so it's still sitting outside letting the fumes dissipate, but I'm excited to find a place for it inside soon. Also, two different friends found a new home, with me, for three lawn dinosaurs that used to belong to his parents.

My dad gave me some really cool presents. For the most part, my dad is a fairly stoic guy. He's a fairly traditional dad and usually pretty predictable, but every once and a while, he gets ridiculously sentimental. For my 30th birthday, he gave me presents that corresponded with his 30th birthday. He went quail hunting that morning and had his biggest haul ever so he gave me a little ceramic quail. It was little dark for his vegetarian daughter, but it's the thought that counts, right?  He watched his favorite team, the Denver Broncos, take a last minute victory over Oakland, so I got a Denver jersey. Unfortunately not a 1984 style jersey, but a 1997 Elway is still pretty good. Lastly, he and my mom went and saw 'The Terminator' so I now have it on DVD (don't tell him I already had the 'Terminator' box set).

It was a really cute idea. He was amazed that I already knew the 'Terminator' story. He likes to talk about it more than he realizes since he uses seeing it as validation for picking good movies.

It was a very cute idea, one that I will probably mimic someday with my own children. So, for my future children, some day long from now, here's what your presents will be based on:

1) Going to brunch with my mom and my sister.
2) Exchanging the jacket my mom had given me as a gift because it was too small.
3) Watching the terrible Vin Diesel movie 'XXX: Return of Xander Cage' at the Roadhouse theater, stuffing my face with cheddar popcorn.
4) And ending the evening by watching Mostly Walking.

I don't how those will translate to gifts yet, but I'm sure it will be clever and annoying, as is family tradition.

I can't say that I feel 30 yet. It still hasn't hit me. I'm trying to embrace it but there's part of my brain that's fighting back. 30 year-olds don't have dinosaurs in their backyard. Thirty somethings have five or ten year plans. They are adults and make good decisions. I definitely feel like I have my life together now more than I did at 20 or 24, but over the last few years, I really started to figure myself out and I'm probably 95% there. I'm comfortable in who I am, even if that person isn't really an adult yet.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Project House Update: Starry Starry Night

One of the things that's taken me the longest to learn and has been the hardest when it comes to house projects is that the ideal solution is very rarely the first solution. As expensive and as long as it takes, sometimes it takes several tries to get it right.

Oh, but when it's finally right, it's so worth it. Let me tell you a story of how we now have this beautiful entryway chandelier.

When we first moved into our house, one of the first things you saw when you walked into the house was this light. Calling it outdated was an understatement. It was one of the first things we tackled when we started our house overhaul.

We replaced the original fixture with this bell pendant from World Market. I like the shape of it with the archway window of our front door. I like the antique brass finish with the Southwestern nature of our house. I like the secret touch of turquoise hidden inside.

However, Dan wasn't as happy with it, his main complaint being the lack of light. Due to its design, our entryway was being lit by a single light bulb and it wasn't nearly enough light. But the pro's outweighed the con's so we lived with it for over three years.

We lived with the brass bell until we repainted the entryway, getting rid of the hideous yellow that was also a 'learning experience'. The light needed to be removed to paint and Dan hated putting it back up. He wanted something better.

For months, I scoured the internet, trying to find the perfect light for us. And since Dan and I have such drastically different tastes, it was an uphill battle. That is until I stumbled across this arrangement of star pendants. The first image was going to be too small for our entryway, but once I got digging, I found some closer to what I wanted.

Image Source
Image Source
Star pendants like this are huge in Tucson. They're very Southwestern/Mexican. My mom has one in her entryway. My sister (after we found ours) went and got one for her bathroom. They are beautiful, timeless, and fit our house. It was an easy sell for both of us.

Dan and I both did some digging into where to buy these star pendants. After I failed to come up with anything substantial, Dan had an amazing stroke of luck. He found this website with a wide variety of styles. Once he gave it to me and I began poking around, I found that the store behind the website is in Tucson. It was less than a fifteen minute drive and we'd both driven past it hundreds of times, every time we would go to trivia.

This next part will really show how lazy we are. On Black Friday, 2015, Dan's parents were still in town for Thanksgiving and his mom loves Southwestern knick-knacks so we decided to kill two birds with one stone and pull the trigger on some lights. We knew we wanted three, for them to be similar but not matching, and of different sizes. We chose a 10 inch star with frosted glass, a 15 inch star with clear glass, and a 19 inch star with Mercury glass.

The plan was to hang all three together, but we didn't know the best way to do it. In the interim, Dan hung the largest one and we went on with our lives.

So the other two lights sat on a shelf in our laundry room, waiting for a good solution. Again, we lived with just one light bulb lighting our entryway for nearly a year. Around Christmas time, 2016, Dan was fed up yet again with have a dimly lit room. And since he is most productive when he has vacation time, I knew it was time to really move forward and not let his energy go to waste.

The solution I had always liked best was a three-light pendant canopy. They are hard to find, but they would allow all three lights to be mounted together and be part of one, singular chandelier. We modeled what we wanted with cardboard and balloons and it helped us determine the size of the canopy we would need. And like most of this story, once I pointed Dan in the right direction, he came through and found the perfect one.

Dan had an electrician wire it all together and then it was just up to us to hang it. He wrapped each star in packing foam and paper so that they couldn't break each other when I lifted it. I don't think I've ever been so nervous during a house project, but at one point, I was standing next to the ladder, on a dining room chair, holding the light bundle up so Dan could secure it. There was over a year's worth of work (kind of) in my weak little hands and the delicacy of it was not lost on me.

But miraculously it survived! And I did, too!

It's so beautiful. I love it. I absolutely love it. The bulbs are hidden in the smallest and the largest stars, but Dan went the extra mile and put an Edison bulb in the middle one, the clear one.

They hang a little low for our tallest friends, but they will heal if they hurt themselves. As long as they don't break my lights, we won't have any issues.

And it's even prettier at night. Through the arched entryway window, you can see them from the street. So it's even classed up the curb appeal of our house.

The Mercury glass and the Edison bulb have a yellower light than the small star, but one day that will bother me enough to swap it out.

I'm so glad, after all our previous incorrect decisions, we finally ended up with the right one.

If you don't happen to live in an area where you can get these cheap and quick like we managed to do, there are a lot of other options out there. Most are fancier and more expensive than ours, like this one from West Elm.

Like most of our projects, it took much longer than it should have. However, the slow crawl of our work doesn't annoy me as much as it used to. It's just what we need to do to end up with the right solution. When we rush, we make poor decisions. I'd rather do something right, and slowly, the first time.