Vase Hunting

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

So it may or may not be Sada (my partner in crime) and my secret wish to quit our current day jobs as tax accountants and start an Etsy store or something where we make fabulous hand-made creations all day long... oh, and get paid luxuriously for it.

And then we wake up, and resort to eating a Lean Cuisine at our desks real quick so we can fit in going to Goodwill during our lunch break. These pretty little vases (sold to yours truly for just $.99 each) are the first victims of Sada and Camille's crafting shenanigans.

I felt like the ultra nerd as I pulled out my camera at the check out, in none other than Goodwill. We were just so excited to actually be starting a project. I think the cashier wanted to seriously hurt us, especially since she had to wrap up a good dozen or so of these vases.

I'm not going to reveal what we plan to do with these vases just quite yet, but I promise I will show you the final result, assuming it all goes as planned.

It's all in a days work, people. All in a days work.

One Smart Woman

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Got this email at work today, and I literally laughed out loud. Ask my office buddy, I did.  
Barbara Walters, of 20/20, did a story on gender roles in Kabul, Afghanistan, several years before the Afghan conflict.  She noted that women customarily walked five paces behind their husbands.
She recently returned to Kabul and observed that women still walk behind their husbands.  Despite the overthrow of the oppressive Taliban regime, the women now seem to, and are happy to, maintain the old custom.

Ms. Walters approached one of the Afghani women and asked, 'Why do you now seem happy with an old custom that you once tried so desperately to change?'

The woman looked Ms. Walters straight in the eyes, and without hesitation said, "Land Mines."
Moral of the story is (no matter what language you speak or where you go), BEHIND EVERY MAN THERE IS A SMART WOMAN.

In other news, I apologize for the lack of blog posts. Usually when Russell goes out of town I blog like there's no tomorrow. But this time not so much. These last few weeks have crawled by having him gone. It sure does get lonely after a while! Maybe I need to invest in one of these:

I wonder if that will do the trick? Well, instead I have kept myself busy by painting a certain craft desk a bright and cheery yellow (picture soon to come), and drooling over craft sites with craft projects I only aspire to do. If only there was an endless amount of time, money, and space to create and display these craft projects... Anyone else feel the same way?

Office Jobs.

Friday, June 25, 2010

I have four words for you:


Here is one of the many stacks of tax returns I am sifting through today. Oh, office jobs. You are so lovely.

But it is almost the weekend, which means a few things --

a) I get to pick up Russell from the airport (he has been in Ohio all week for business. It's been a long week.)
b) I get to catch up on much needed sleep
c) We will be hanging out with Shamu tomorrow at Sea World
d) I don't have to look at this stack of returns... until Monday.

My Book List

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

One thing I love about vacations is the chance to catch up on reading. As is expected, we spent a lot of time on trains/buses/planes in Europe, so we got in some good reading time. My most recent book list includes:

Little Bee, by Chris Cleave

This was recommend by my Mom, who is an ultimate reader (seriously a book a week, at the very least). It tells the story of two women from very different worlds -- one from London, one who is a Nigerian refugee -- whose worlds collide. My eyes were opened to some of the refugee scenarios that go on in countries such as Nigeria, and how amazingly blessed and fortunate I am! Not the happiest book on the planet, but incredibly powerful and eye opening.

The Love You Makeby Peter Brown

Ha! Not a big surprise right? Russell gave this book to me for Christmas, and I was excited but was expecting just another tribute to the Beatles. Boy was I wrong. I was completely fascinated the whole time, and continually pestered poor Russell with "guess what!" and "did you know..." and more. I thought I knew everything about the Beatles, until I read this book. Peter Brown, the author, was a personal assistant to Brian Epstein and The Beatles during the 1960s. Warning to Beatles fans contemplating this book: It's very honest and literally spills everything that the Beatles did. They lived rock n' roll lives, and you read ALL about it. It's not a fast read either, but who wants to make reading about the Beatles go by faster? Not I.

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

Oh this book. I give this book 5 stars, warning you that you will not be able to put it down. My friend Holly had been raving about this series, so we borrowed the book for our trip. Russ read it first, loved it, and then it was my turn. And now we are slightly obsessed. The only sad thing is we got back to reality, and don't have endless hours to read anymore. Solution? We are listening to Catching Fire (the second book in the series) on tape during our lengthy commutes. I now love driving to work. (kidding, but it is now tolerable). What am I going to do when I finish #2? Wait till August 24th when Mockingjay comes out? Oh the pain.

Dad Day

Sunday, June 20, 2010

“The older I get, the smarter my father seems to get.” ― Tim Russert

Isn't it the truth??

I hope every father in the world feels honored and loved on this day and all the days to come. The role of a father is invaluable to a child. They provide a source of strength, security, and protection, among many other things.

As I have gotten a little older, I have thought about my own upbringing, and the man I am honored to call my Dad. My dad is my hero. He has so many traits and qualities I hope to emulate in my own life. He has taught me so much -- by both his words and his example. 

I miss my Dad like crazy. I haven't seen him since CHRISTMAS, and we have yet another month till we get to spend a few days together. It's really hard being apart for so long, but in a way I feel we have gotten closer. 

On the same vein, I feel so blessed to have married into a family with yet another amazing example of a father. I have learned so much in the last year or so of our marriage as I have watched and observed my father-in-law in his day-to-day actions. He puts pride in everything he does... whether it be his job, house, or his family. Thank you, Randal, for supporting Russell and I in everything we do!

We really are so blessed to have two amazing men to honor on this Father's Day. Thank you for everything you do for us. We love you!

Cadaques -- The Last Stop

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

We have made it to the last post of the trip (sigh of relief). Cadaques is a beautiful, small town on the coast of Northern Spain that has resisted too much modernization and somehow kept somewhat of a secret from the throngs of tourists. It was the perfect way to end such a busy, sometimes stressful, and fast-paced trip.

Here is the view from our hotel room

We spent a good hour or so laying by this lovely pool at our lovely hotel. I loved the bright red flowers against the blue and white decor.

We walked along this path to find the delicious pizza we enjoyed for dinner.

One of Salvador Dali's famous paintings is of this very town. We went to the very place where his point of view was for the painting. And then we bought a small print -- it is now hanging in our apartment.

So remember how we had to buy a new camera? Well a bonus tripod came with it (which I maybe got a little too excited about). We are amateurs at photography... is this what you use it for?

Just kidding, we know how to use a tripod... kind of. Here is the view from that chapel at the top of the town

This next picture is mostly for my dad. When I was a little girl I used to watch Little Mermaid literally every day. I was obsessed with that movie. It has always been "our movie." My dad would walk down and catch me up against a couch like this pretending I was Ariel -- you guys know the scene. Well, I got to relive the moment in Cadaques.

Cadaques by night. So lovely.

Goodbye Europe. 
I will never forget this trip. It was Russell and my first "huge trip" together. We learned so much about each other and our marriage while on this trip. And not only that, we planned and paid for it all on our own... a process that really makes you appreciate it. We saved and saved, and I'm so glad we did. Being there with my sister also made all the difference. We are all so very blessed. So many memories were created that I will never forget.

My Guilty Pleasure

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ok, a little ashamed to admit this, but I am kind of into slightly obsessed with the Bachelorette. Come on girls (and guys, there's no shame), who's with me?? Anyone? I know you're out there.

Anyway, I found this post today about the current status of Ali's quest for love. I couldn't agree more. And for those folks still in the dating scene, if anyone, and I repeat ANYONE tells you over and over again that they want to "guard and protect your heart," and then proceed to tattoo a heart being guarded by a shield on their wrist so as to literally "wear their heart on their sleeve", run away. Run far, far away.

Oh this will be a good season.

Montserrat & a Slight Diversion...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

We took a day trip from Barcelona to Montserrat, which is basically this amazing monastery about an hour train-ride inland on the top of a mountain, the mountain of Montserrat. Holy cow, this place was impressive. Let me show you.

So in this picture, the basillica is on the right side, and houses the Virgin of Montserrat, basically a figurine of a black Mary and Christ child. A little non-traditional, but extremely famous in the Catalonian Catholic Religion. People come from far and wide to rub the little orb she has in her hands.

A wedding happened to be occurring right as we were in the basillica. Random, and really fun to see.

There were pretty extreme cliffs in the background. The other buildings in Montserrat were dormitories for the monks and other church workers, and of course, tourist shops/museums/etc.

Pretty impressive view. Spain is absolutely gorgeous.

Getting ready for the tram ride back down. This tram ride was not for the faint of heart, I tell ya.

So after our time in Barcelona we woke up early and started our journey to Cadaques, a small, coastal town in Northern Spain. We even got to hang out in our own room on the train... we felt like Hogwarts students heading off to school.

Well it didn't go exactly as planned. And here's why:

Pretty sad, huh? After a few tears of frustration at the bus station (from my end) and a few hours of waiting in Figuerres, it all worked out. We even got to walk around Figuerres, which was actually the hometown of the famous artist, Salvador Dali. That crazy silver tube structure in the video is actually a famous Dali work of art. Along with this blue beauty to the right.

Lessons learned:
  • You gotta work with where you are.
  • You might actually find some things you like, and end up having a pretty good afternoon.
  • Language barriers are definitely... well... a barrier.
  • Sometimes a few tears are necessary, but really, they get you nowhere. It's a good thing my husband knows how to keep his cool when the bus station employee just shrugs her shoulders after we tell them the bus drove off without us.
  • Salvador Dali was pretty creative. Kind of bizarre sometimes, but creative.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

We arrived in Barcelona from Paris late at night, so the next morning we looked at the clock and saw it was 11:45 am!!! Ahhhh! So much time wasted, but not really, because the sleep was so very much needed. After hopping out of bed and practically running out the door, this is what we saw in Barcelona:

The Sagrada Familia is to your left. If you're thinking "hmm... that's kind of ugly," I agree with you. But it's the kind ugly that is so unique you keep staring and soon decide it's really cool. It was designed and built by the famous Antoni Gaudi, an influential Spanish Catalan architect who was revolutionary in his Modernist style. His structures are all over Barcelona. He started this chapel, and died before it was finished. As you can see by the cranes and scaffolding, the city is still trying to finish it, and it has been under construction since 1882. And no, they are not even close to being finished. Still pretty cool though.

Here is Russ at the top of Las Ramblas

How to explain Las Ramblas? It is a street so incredibly packed with people, booths, stores, restaurants, music, street performers you experience somewhat of a sensory overload. But oh goodness, it's a blast. Barcelona is filled with ENERGY and YOUTH, and Las Ramblas is where all of this energy and youth begins.

You can also see that Russ is holding a Zara bag. Some of you have probably heard of this Spain-based store of goodness. There is a line called "Zara Man," and we found out they were talking about Russell. He IS the Zara man. Those clothes fit his body like a glove, so much so that we bought him a new suit -- a pretty shnazzy suit that fit him so perfectly it does not need to be altered one bit. He was a pretty happy Zara man.

Las Ramblas = cool

We found an awesome market with food that was so beautifully displayed just off of Las Ramblas. Soooo tempting.

Here we are at a pretty hoppin' square, again just off Las Ramblas.

Our hotel was right next to this palace -- The Fira Palace. There was the most beautiful fountain show every night in front of this palace that puts up a pretty good fight against the Bellagio fountains. Look at all those people behind the fountains!

Beautiful sunrise, right? Our second day in Barcelona started with a really, really really early morning run to the mountain behind our hotel and the Fira Palace. There is a castle up top right next to the Olympic Park. It was such a beautiful sunrise and made Russell's crazy early-morning idea worth it. And then we started running back. I'm following Russell down the poorly-paved mountain roads, and before I realized it I'm practically sprinting. Just as I'm thinking "this is the fastest I've ever run, I kind of feel out of control..." I DO lose control and FACE PLANT. Sccrraaaaaaaaaaaaape. I wasn't even worried about the blood running down my shin or the asphalt in my palms. No, I was holding our camera in my hand, and long story short, the camera is no more. Yes, I broke the camera. In Europe. And yes, a new camera was immediately bought. (... add one more unexpected purchase to the list...)

Barcelona has an Arc de Triomphe, too!

What does a man do when he sees a funny looking tree? See below.

Final word: We LOVED our time in Barcelona, broken camera, scraped skin, and all. 
 Stay tuned for more Spain adventures.

My Daily Affirmation

On days when you might need a little boost, follow this little girl's example and tell yourself why your life is so good. Looks like it's working for her...

For example, I personally could wake up and recite some of the following phrases:

I like my job! I like my friends! I like my apartment! I like my hair! I like my hair cuts! I like my car! I like my computer! I like the city I live in! I like my family! I like my pajamas! I... like... my... whole... house!


yeah, yeah, yeah...

J'adore Paris!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Our time in Paris was short, but very sweet. We stopped in Paris for like a day in between England and Spain. Since I have been a few times, I showed Russ the speed guide tour through the city of love. And you know? I think I did a pretty good job!

The Paris excursion started with a late night dinner after a long journey from London at a delicious pizza place. We probably sounded pretty ridiculous trying to translate the french menu, even with the little bit of French I remembered from high school. I thought about taking pictures of our fancy pizzas, but they disappeared waaaaaay too quickly.

We then literally ran to catch the last metro train from our rented flat to, none other, but the 
Eiffel Tower
It really was a magical time. We were running purely on adrenaline and endorphins.

We fell asleep as two happy travelers and woke up ready to get going. We started the day with the 
Notre Dame, an absolutely impressive cathedral in the heart of the city along the Sienne River. And no, the hunchback was nowhere to be found. Russ loved this cathedral, and I think he even said it was his favorite part of Paris. Me? Definitely the tour d'Eiffel. Or the food.

Every corner in Paris is picturesque. Too bad I'm not a pro photographer. Someday.
To the right you can see me trying to navigate the map looking as touristy as possible. The map worked... most of the time.

How cute is this street full of flowers? As you can see we ran into a little... a lot of rain in Paris. Rain or no rain, it was still beautiful.

The Louvre! Such an amazing building. 

The Paris Opera House! If you take Russ out of the picture, doesn't it look like a great ad for that car in the background? Yeah, I thought so.

The Arc de Triomphe! It took a few tries to get this picture without massive buses or swarms of cars flying by. The Champs de Elysee is an incredibly busy street. Anyway, again after looking like major tourists, we got a shot.

I tried taking Russ up to the Sacre Le Couere (an amazing chapel that overlooks Paris) and Mont-Martre (a quaint square that has the typical artists on the street surrounded by outdoor cafe's and everything French... and also near where my Grandma lived as a young teen), but once getting out of the metro we realized it was raining way too hard. Like rivers-flowing-down-the-street raining hard. 

So we ate instead.

We found an adorable cafe and ordered anything we sort of recognized and reveled in our last few hours in Paris. 

And then we literally ran to catch our train to Spain. And we made it... barely... again. 

Stay tuned -- Spain soon to come!