Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Project House Update: That Needed to Get Done, Right?

Both Dan and I have the full week off for Thanksgiving. While it's nice not to have to work, it's even better to have all sorts of time to get stuff done on the house. Unfortunately, there's a bit of a bump in the road: in laws. I love my in laws, but my husbands productivity drops to zero when they stay with us.

So, it's a fun little game I play, seeing how much I can get him to do before they come into town. In a dirty move, I decided we needed to reorganize our entry way closets and pulled everything out of them the second he left me home alone. One was filled with all our luggage and the other with our cleaning appliances, like the vacuum and brooms. Why we were holding onto so many old, broken suitcases was beyond me. There was no reason we couldn't chuck most of it and fit the contents into just one space.

With the closets empty, Dan got inspired to just redo the whole closet while we were at it. Just one, the one I had completely emptied. Since I wasn't planning on this being a project, this is the best 'Before' picture I managed to get.

And here's a small portion of the mess I made pulling it all out.

We did three big things to the closet.

First, we removed the coat rod. "What? How could you remove the coat rod?!" Well, we did and here's why. Numero 1: it's Arizona. I don't think we've ever had guests over and they've been desperate to hang their coats. Numero 2: it's the front entry way. Dan and I rarely, if ever, leave through the front door. We store all our coats and bags in the laundry room.

Second, we painted the walls. They were the same creamy/beige most of the house was originally painted and they'd been pretty banged up from the dirty wheels of the luggage.

Third, Dan installed some shelves. While we'll leave the other closet shelf-less to store taller items like the vacuum, this one didn't really need any height to store things. In a twist of fate, Dan had removed some shelves in the garage to replace them with stronger ones. Wouldn't you know it, they were the exact right width and height for this little closet.

And without further ado, here's the 'finished' product.

Eventually, a different set of junk will go on the shelves and we'll hopefully get rid of another car full of donations, but it's better. For now.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Dare to DIY: Thankful for Art Deco

It's Dare to DIY time again! I'm not very crafty, but every year I get inspired by Michelle at 'Decor and the Dog'.

For several days, I tried to get hit by creative lightning, but nothing was happening. Pinterest is pretty unhelpful when you live in Arizona. There are no ways to craft with colorful leaves when there is no seasonal foliage.

While I wasn't finding anything autumnal, I was becoming insanely fascinated by everything Art Deco. Golds and silvers and jewel tones and geometric patterns and swirling vines. I don't know how I've gotten obsessed, but I am.

Anyway, becoming frustrating, I searched for 'art deco thankful' and found this lovely print at an etsy shop. While it's a very nice print, my immediate reaction was, "I can make something like that."

There is always something to be thankful for. Always.

In a great twist of fate, I found a frame at Target for 70% off at Target that's both art deco with its gold detailing and fall with the burlap matting.

I know these sorts of things are usually more about arts and crafts, using modpodge to stick something to something else and VOILA! Centerpiece! But, for me, making a print design is so much more challenging. It took me almost four hours to make that image. Hunting for art deco borders, downloading different fonts, learning how to use the free online photo editing software better. It took a bit of time, but I think the results are totally worth it.  

If you'd like to print it out for yourself, that's totally cool. It's formatted for 8" by 10".

I know it's not for everyone and it's so incredibly niche, but this thing makes me so happy. When I couldn't find a Thanksgiving decoration that I liked, I'm proud of myself for bringing one into existence. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Have You Seen A Cat Play Fetch?

It's been a while since I did a cat update post, I think. And if it hasn't, well, I don't care because I finally caught this little cutie on film playing fetch! There are two things Sam loves: being scared by absolutely everything and fetching up things.

See that hair tie in that picture? He most likely stole it from my hair stuff drawer and then cried until I played fetch with him. He'll play fetch with just about anything. My hair ties, tiny pieces of plastic he digs out of the trash, cat toys, and his newest favorite is the Nerf darts from Dan's birthday dart gun.

[Sidenote: I'm still trying to get the hang of taking video, so please excuse the fact that the camera rotation is all sorts of crap.]

And just so I'm not playing favorites, here's Rusty playing with the cat teaser.

Yes, I am a crazy cat lady and don't care at all. They're too cute for me to care.

Monday, November 17, 2014

All Souls Procession 2014

One thing Tucson is known for is it's Dias des los Muertos celebrations. For anyone unfamiliar with the Mexican tradition, it's a day just after Halloween where you honor the dead. Since I'm not hispanic, all I know of the tradition is how my city celebrates.

Every year, several days after Halloween, tens of thousands of people paint up their face and parade through downtown, the All Souls Procession. At the end of the route, it turns into all out craziness; the closest comparison is that it's like a mini Burning Man festival.

This year was my first year participating. It was both more and less crazy than I imagined.

First of all, the most important part: the makeup. It was a lot of cheap face paint, eye liner doodles, and a fabulous red lipstick.

Two tips for anyone else doing Day of the Dead makeup. First, it is possible for eye liner to stain your eyebrows. Second, face paint is worth the money you pay. It was like having a face covered in lip gloss. Just like a breezy day, my hair kept sticking to it. It almost drove me insane.

My friends and I went out to dinner beforehand, half of us already in our makeup and half not. Thankfully, I brought along my makeup for touch ups after eating and the eye liner was passed around so no face was blank.

After a bit of a walk over to the parade route, we spent close to an hour just watching the parade march past us. There aren't a lot of 'floats' in the parade, but many groups have themes and some people make elaborate mini-floats, sort of single shrines carried by just one person. There were mariachi bands and bagpipe bands and high school bands and acrobatics.

After watching for a while, we got antsy jumped in! You don't fully grasp how many people are there until you're in the middle of it. With everyone made up, you could be standing next to your sister and not even know. You're just surrounded by a sea of strangers. It actually became kind of overwhelming.

We never made it to the end of the parade. By the time we had walked out of downtown and under the highway, we had been on our feet for hours and knew we had a ridiculously long walk back to the car. So, we missed the burning of the urn filled with prayers and the music and displays. We heard mixed reviews of it later, so I don't feel that bad about leaving early.

But we didn't go straight home. Nope. We stopped at a late night diner and had us some pie. In full skeleton face makeup. I wish I had gotten a picture of us, but we were already getting enough looks as it was.

One boy skeleton eating supreme lemon meringue and one girl skeleton eating coconut cream.

Friday, November 14, 2014

I Love Lamp

At the beginning of the month, Dan and I hit up our local antique's fair. [link] For the past few months, we usually come home empty handed. It tends to be the same kind of stuff over and over and while it is interesting to look at, there hasn't been anything that really popped out at me.

This time was different, though. One of our favorite booths had this awesome lamp. A talk brass floor lamp with five arcing arms. Almost identical to the one below.The main difference is this one isn't really shiny anymore. It's got some wear and patina, which makes it look more vintage, less 80's.

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I wish I had taken a picture of the actual lamp at the booth, but I figured that wouldn't help with any negotiating. I'd seen it in their booth back in October, but didn't say anything at the time. I had given it a once over, but Dan laughed it off. It was fate for it to still be there. It needed to be mine.

One of the ladies at the booth told us her husband would probably sell it for $100. The husband told us he'd let it go for $80. We walked away, then came back and offered him $60.

Then Dan and I walked our giant new lamp home. 

For now, it sits in two pieces in our torn apart living room. It will live in that room once we've finally finished the fireplace, but it's too large for any other space.

Once the room is completed, I'd like to move our sectional into it and position the lamp behind it, kind of like this:

Just image a lamp and a sectional in place of this cheap Target lamp in the corner of our living room.

I really can't wait until I can actually put all the things that are supposed to go in this room in their rightful homes.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Let's All Do the Cat Trap

'Cat trap totally sounds like it could be a dance. Someone work out what that would look like, ok?


Have you seen this cat trap trick on Buzzfeed? It's kind of stupid, but I had to try it. Probably just because of how cute and bug-eyed the cat in their example is...

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It's really as simple as it looks. You take some tape and create a circle on the floor. That's all the trap is. Then, you wait and laugh and laugh when your cat has to sit in the spot. If you have a cat, you know. The floor could be completely empty except for one thing and they HAVE TO sit on it.

That said, I was incredibly surprised when my cats did this:

They never got near it. I let the trap sit on the floor all night. Nothing. It's like they knew and were laughing at me about it.

Smug little baby boys.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Let's Take a Field Trip to the Power Plant

I still don't understand how exactly I ended up at the Tucson's power plant with all my coworkers. From what I've pieced together, one of my coworkers, Mike, met one of his neighbors at a home owner's meeting. Turns out this guy is only in town for a couple of months while he set up the new solar power plant installation. Bing bang boom. Mike has convinced him to give our entire department a private tour.

Since the power plant is no longer along my commute, I was completely unaware that they were even building anything new. To sum it up, they've basically built a 400 meter field of mirrors which they can angle to reflect sunlight at a length of tube overhead. Water runs through the tube and is heated to super saturated steam which then powers the turbine.


Our tour started with a little lecture in the construction trailer on how all this works. Then, we moved onto the fun part: walking around under the mirrors. Since the installation wasn't up and running yet, all the mirrors were facing the ground, to protect them. It made for some great pictures.

The great thing about this new solar installation is that it uses water. Other installations of this type tend to use oil and need some sort of heat exchanger, which lose efficiency. This system uses water, the same water that is already being turned into steam in the gas portion of the power plant. It means that when it's daylight and the solar power is running, less gas is needed to power the city. The new solar portion reduces the energy needed in an existing system, which is apparently a very big deal to those in the know.

The water pipes run a hundred feet in the air above the mirrors. These specially-coated tube can be serviced by a little trolley suspended below them. That is a job I would not want to have.

So, next time you're driving along I-10 and you look over at the power plant, you can say you know what that ridiculous tower and mirrors are.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Fan of Friday: Week of 11/7/2014

I don't remember how I stumbled across 'The Lovely Side' blog, but it was a few years ago, back when the blogger, Jessica, was still in college and it was titled, 'Lovely Undergrad'.

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It's right up my alley. She writes about two main things: home decor and clothes. When you put it like that, it doesn't do her pieces justice.

Her posts on decor focus on breaking down rooms and determining why they work and how to improve them. It's mood boards and layouts and advice to others on their spaces.

It follows a similar pattern with her posts on outfits. While focusing mainly on office and work clothing, she breaks down building outfits in a very similar fashion to that of home spaces.

Also, I'm fairly partial to her blog because she's featured my ideas twice on it now. First, I submitted my wardrobe as a Mechanical Engineer and why they work. Second, she turned my comment about packing a suitcase of essentials when you're moving and rolled that idea into a whole post.

You can really tell when you read her posts how much time and effort she puts into dissecting and breaking things down. It's quite refreshing.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Cops and Rodders 2014

Since Dan is a car guy, he gets so excited for the annual Cops and Rodder's Car Show. It's a giant car show that take up all of the local baseball team's stadium's parking lot. Translation: there are a hundreds of cars.

We've been attending this same show for years and it probably is the best car show of the year. However, over time, it's lost some of it's shininess for me. It can be a lot when you're wandering for hours in the sun.

To entertain myself, I brought my nice, big camera along and got all artistic. Any little odd detail got a picture. It's amazing the tiny things people do to personalize their awesome cars. And it's amazing the amount of personality these cars have on their own.

Turned out to be a great little exercise for me. When you done something to the point of boredom, sometimes a new perspective can make it fun again. Who knew?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Halloween 2014

You would think it would be great that Halloween fell on a Friday this year, but it actually kind of a pain. It stretched Halloween to eight days. Eight days is a long time for dressing up in costumes.

It all started on Friday, the 24th. My sister invited me out with her friends for late night costumed roller skating. Since my Mara Jade costume is kind of restricting, I wore my Queen of Hearts playing card costume.

I'm not very good at roller skating, so it was a victorious night because I didn't fall on my butt.

The next night, my friend Bekah threw an amazing Halloween party. Photo booth room with all sorts of props. Every kitchen surface covered in platters of creepy themed food. Halloween themed board games.

And that was just Day 2 of eight potential days of Halloween.

Fortunately, no other events until Thursday night. Trivia night. For the last two years, Halloween has fallen on the same night as trivia. Trivia fell on the night before Halloween. Our quizmaster loves Halloween and had been trying to rally people for the entire month of October with Thursday being the culmination.

I asked my teammates if they were planning to dress up. They said they were. I rushed home from work to gussy myself up and skipped a home owner's association meeting to go to this special night.

And you know what I found when I showed up? My friend's have a much different definition of 'dressing up'.

One who didn't dress up at all, one who wore a stethoscope over fairly normal clothes, and one who wore a skeleton T-shirt.

And then there was me. In a skin-tight black cat-suit covered in all the Mara Jade bells and whistles. There were maybe four of us in the whole place in real costumes.

By the time the eighth day rolled around, the actual night of Halloween, I was over it. Dan carved a pumpkin. We worked out house projects and stayed in, just in case we got our first ever trick-or-treater.

Maybe next year...