Thursday, January 23, 2014

DIY Spoon Rest

Now, I know that I've mentioned that I'm staring to get into Pinterest. I've made inspiration 'boards' for every room in our house.

One of the things I 'pinned' to the Kitchen board was this cute little spoon rest:
How cute is that?
I pinned it because we desperately need a spoon rest in the kitchen. We do a lot of cooking on the stove, and we just end up getting pasta sauce and such all over the stove-top. :o( I've been looking for a nice spoon rest for a while, but most of the ones I've seen on etsy and such are $20! 20 bucks for a spoon-rest? Are you kidding me? So I figured I'd try my hand at making one. And it was just as easy as I thought it would be! Wanna know how I did it?

Step 1.
Acquire some supplies.

Step 2.
Start Painting:

Step 3.
Cut & Paste:


Then just hit everything up with a few coats of glossy Mod Podge and you're good to go!

I think it actually looks just as nice as the one in the picture! And how often can you say that about a DIY project? So there you have it, my very first Pinterest Project! :o)

Stay tuned for more DIY!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

What to do about that boring apartment?

I think I mentioned that my husband and I are working on an awesome DIY project for our bedroom. I don't want to spoil the surprise by telling you what it is now, but don't worry, I'll post about it some time soon!

But in the mean time, I've been inspired to take a look at some of the other areas in our apartment that could use that good old DIY touch. To put it simply, our apartment is uh... boring. Yeah, boring. Some areas are even super-boring.

So I've been on Pinterest all morning, pinning like crazy. That's the right verb here right? Pinning? And I'm starting to collect some inspiration for things that I want to change in the apartment.

This is meant to be a pretty short post, but I wanted to share some of the "before" (which implies an "after", I hope) pictures of the problem areas in the apartment.

Boring empty bathroom

Our den, can you see the problem?

Another chunk of den... boring

Family room... desperately in need of a DVD rack

And finally, our kitchen. Yeah...

And now you can see why I'm so desperate to spice things up. The kitchen is particularly bad, mostly due to our lack of a kitchen table. :o( Needs to be fixed. And soon. It's actually our next project after the current top-secret DIYing.

So that's it, stay tuned for updates as they happen!

Friday, January 17, 2014

DC Day 4

We're finally back home in Detroit, and while I'll miss D.C., I'm actually really glad to be home. It's been a long and crazy vacation, but I've loved every minute of it.

Since Wednesday was our last day in D.C., we tried to really make the most of it. For our first stop of the day, we had arraigned a tour of the Talking Books Library (part of the Library of Congress). My husband and his brother have been patrons of the Talking Books Library for many many years, so he was beyond excited to go.

Talking Books players throughout the ages
We had an amazing tour and got to see all of the behind the scenes stuff that makes the Talking Books Library run smoothly. We learned about the process for taking a print book and turning it into a talking book, and even got to see the studios where local actors read and record the books! It was all a real treat, and I could tell that my husband loved every minute of it!

Now the Talking Books Library isn't really in the heart of downtown D.C., so we had to hop back on the Metro and head to the mall. Our next stop was the James Madison building of the Library of Congress where I filled out an application and got a library card! Yeah, it's okay to be jealous.
The Library likes to stress that library cards (or "reader" cards) are not souvenirs, they are for researchers only, but I really do plan to use my card when we go to D.C. next year (I hope!).

Our next stop was yet another Smithsonian, this time The Natural History Museum, where we saw lots of amazing exhibits, like the Hope Diamond. They also had mummies, which are my personal favorite!

I can't even begin to tell you how amazing the Natural History Museum was, it really blew my mind. We wandered through the Oceans exhibit, saw about a bazillion different animal skeletons, saw the taxidermied mammals in their hall, and so much more. I got to hold a live Lubber Grasshopper in the Insect Zoo (he tickled my fingers). We also saw a new exhibit on the human genome, which was cool and interactive, but nothing I didn't know.

We didn't see the dinosaurs (we just didn't have time), but we did stop to see the exhibit on early human life, which included this amazing wall of skulls:

The 2nd coolest wall of skulls I've ever seen

The entire museum was amazing, and I highly recommend it if you're ever in the D.C. area. It's well worth spending several hours at. Unfortunately, by that point in the day (in the week really) we were reaching our breaking point. We had been going non-stop for four days, and we were both exhausted. So we decided to call it a day and head back to our hotel to get some much needed sleep before our early-morning flight back home.

And that's it. That's our trip to D.C. in a nutshell. Right now, I'm very glad to be home and getting back to my routine, but at the same time, I can't wait to go back to D.C.
I'm hoping that my husband's job will send him back to the conference next year, and we'll get an opportunity to see all of the amazing things that we missed this time around!

So long D.C., I miss you already!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

DC Day 3

D.C. just keeps getting better and better, I don't know how we'll top day 3! 

Yesterday we got in contact with my aunt and uncle who live in Baltimore to see if they'd be able to take a day-trip to D.C. and spend some time with us. Luckily they were both avilible and agreed to meet us down-town at about noon. That left us the whole morning to wander around and see what there was to see. 

So we took the Metro to the Mall and decided to just wander around for a while. And then about 3 seconds later, we decided that we should go to the Library of Congress. It was a nice long walk (about 40 minutes) from the Metro station to the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. It was a longer walk than we were planning on, but it was well worth it.

The Main Reading Room

We wandered into the building and went to the information desk. 
"We've never been here before." we said, "What should we see?"
"You're in luck," they said, "there's a tour starting in a few minutes!"

So we watched a short video about the library, and then took a guided tour of the Library of Congress. We saw all sorts of beautiful things. The architecture is stunning and the sculptures and artwork are all beautiful and full of symbolism.

And lets not forget the books! It's a library after all, literally full of books. Absolutely stunning, I was almost literally drooling the entire time.

We got to see one of three complete velum copies of The Gutenberg Bible as well as Thomas Jefferson's personal library. Not to mention the amazingly beautiful main reading room (which isn't open to tourists, you need a Library of Congress library card in order to even get into the room).

We took a quick pit-stop at the Library's gift shop, and then when we tried to leave the way we came, we discovered that all of the doors were closed. We were told to leave by a different route but found that D.C. Police had closed off the exits (still don't know why). So then, and I'm not at all kidding you here, a guy from the pentagon showed us a tunnel that lead out of the building and into the Madison building across the street. Library escape tunnel!

There didn't seem to be any possible way to top the Library of Congress, but when we met up with my aunt and uncle and decided to go to the National Air and Space Museum, it certainly gave our day so far a good run for its money.

I had actually been to the Air and Space Museum before (about 14 years ago), but I didn't remember much of my previous trip, so I'm very glad that we all got a chance to hang out and explore it again.

We took another guided tour and saw the The Spirit of St. Louis, the Lunar Lander and everything in between. It was an amazing tour and an amazing museum, and I only wish that we had had the time (and the energy) to see more of it. We spent about 3 hours at the museum and still only saw a fraction of what was on display.

The museum was humungous and a little bit overwhelming (like all of the Smithsonian museums) and I spent a lot of time just trying to take everything in. One cool thing that the museum has (besides all of the planes and flying machines and rockets and satellites), is a piece of the moon. And it's available to be touched by museum patrons. So yeah, I touched the moon, no big deal.

But honestly, the best part was getting to see my aunt and uncle who live in Baltimore. We've actually seen them a lot over the last year (what with the wedding and all), but we usually never get to see them, so this was a real treat!

And that was pretty much Day 3 of our D.C. trip. It's been the most amazing vacation so far, and I just can't wait to tell you guys all about Day 4!

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

DC Day 2

Yesterday I had my very own wild and crazy D.C. adventure! My husband was stuck attending meetings and such all day (we're technically here for him to attend a conference), so I was on my own.

The first thing I had to do was finally figure out how the Metro works. I bought one of those SmarTrip cards I was telling you guys about at a drug store, and took it down to the closest Metro station to put some extra cash on it. Now I had $18 worth of Metro fares and all of DC to explore!

I wanted to get myself downtown as quickly as possible, and I was lucky that the train I wanted happened to be at the platform just as I arrived, I hopped on, and my adventure started.

My first stop was the American History Museum, which again is run by the Smithsonian, and as such is 100% free to visit! I saw so many amazing exhibits that I'll admit, I was more than a little overwhelmed. Usually when I go to a museum I like to learn as much as I can about the different exhibits, but I was so overwhelmed, I just tried to take it all in as best I could.

I saw an exhibit full of boats and planes and cars called American on the Move. Next up was something called FOOD, which was, surprisingly enough, about food. Specifically, about how food has changed in American in the last 50 years, and how that in turn has changed our country. But the absolute coolest thing about that exhibit was this:

Isn't it beautiful?
That is Julia Child's kitchen. As in, her actual kitchen, which she donated to the Smithsonian in 2001. How awesome is that? I couldn't stop starring!

Next up I went to visit the Star Spangled Banner (the flag that inspired the song), which I had seen on my last visit to DC, almost 14 years ago. I saw another exhibit on the lives of the Presidents and First Ladies, and then I took a trip through time in an exhibit called American Stories. This exhibit was full of classic icons of American culture, like Dorothy's ruby slippers and...

My favorite frog!
There was actually an entire little display on puppetry in America, but I'll be honest, it kind of creeped me out...

I spent a few hours at the museum, and even though there was a lot left to see, I knew I had to head out to the zoo! I told you I'd go back to the National Zoo. There was just so much that we didn't see on Sunday, and I knew that at least one more trip was going to be in order!

I tired to spend my time visiting the animals that I didn't see on Sunday. And even though I spent another 2 hours at the zoo, there's still a lot I haven't seen!

Although I did visit the Asian Trail, and see this adorable Red Panda. I also spent some time with the Elephants, which we hadn't really gotten a good look at on Sunday. I made stops at the Ape House and the Reptile House, which were both lots of fun. Apparently, there's a sort of sky-line that connects the Ape House with a research building called the Think Tank. The line (which the zoo calls the O Line) is for the apes to swing across back and forth between buildings. How cool is that?

Also, while I didn't exactly go into the Bird House, I did wander around the outside of it, where lots of beautiful birds were exhibited. I saw Greater Rheas and Kuri Bustards and these lovely but very very loud flamingos. I had no idea that flamingos could be so loud!

And that was about it for my wild and crazy D.C. adventure. I had a wonderful time exploring the city on my own, and I would love to do it again some day, but for the remainder of this trip at least, I'll have some company. My husband is done attending the required meetings and such and will be joining me in my future explorations. We're actually meeting up with some relatives of mine who live in the area, and the plan for today is to hit up yet another museum or two!

Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

DC Day 1

Hello everyone! My husband and I are in Washington D.C.! Isn't that exciting? Well, it's exciting for us, maybe not so much for you.

Anyway, my husband is here to attend a conference, and I decided to take a few days off of work so that we could make a little vacation out of it. (Also, I didn't want to be in a different state than him)

And because I'm excited/happy, I wanted to share some details with you guys. So here's a summary of our little trip so far.

We flew in to BWI this morning,

took a taxi to the hotel, and since it wasn't yet check-in time, we decided to wander around for a little while.

We tried to take the Metro, but uh... didn't work out so well. We were planning on picking up two $35 "1 Week" passes. But we couldn't figure out how to work any of the machines in the Metro station... So we asked someone to help us out. We were told that in order to get a 1 week pass, we had to buy a $10 SmarTrip card (with $8 worth of fares on it) and then we could put the $35 pass on it...
But uh, the only machine that sold SmarTrip cards was cash only... and didn't give change. So uh, no.

Sorry Metro, maybe we'll use you tomorrow.

But luckily, our cab driver told us that our hotel is only "a few blocks" away from a zoo. A zoo you say? Sounds cool! Turns out that "a few blocks" was more like a mile and a half (though it was a very pleasant walk in the 50 degree weather!), but on the other side it turned out that the zoo was The National Zoo! Which was easily the best way I can think of to spend a few hours.

Dama Gazelle

The National Zoo is run by the Smithsonian, which means that it's absolutely 100% free! So there's no reason not to go. When we got to the hotel there were about half a dozen people hanging out in the lobby waiting for check-in time. Why would they sit there and wait for 2 hours when there's a free zoo a short 20 minute walk away?

Baffling, really.

The zoo has elephants, and lions and reptiles and even a Giant Panda (though we didn't get to see it). There's so much to see, no one could possibly cover it all in the short time that we had.

We wandered around the zoo for about 2 hours, and only saw about half of it. At that point we were starting to get a bit tired (after a morning of travel), and we had a mile and a half walk back, so we decided to call it a day. But we saw so many amazing animals and such cool educational tools, I can't wait to go back!

And go back I will. Tomorrow my husband has to spend all day at his conference, so I'm on my own. I'm planning on swinging back to the zoo and then maybe checking out a museum or two!

Stay tuned!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Just a Peek...

Here's a little peek at how I wrapped my hair for tonight:

Just wanted to share! Have a great night!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

What to do about those drafty windows... (part 1)

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but my husband and I live in an apartment. Now, my husband is just about the most handy guy I know. I literally believe that he can fix anything, but he is not used to living in an apartment. He's used to having a house, where if sometime breaks you just fix it.

So when we noticed that every single window in the apartment was drafty what was my husband's first thought?
Oh, I'll just caulk and re install the molding. No big deal.

Um, yes big deal. I really don't think that the leasing office will be thrilled with you taking apart their windows, even if you will fix them.

So we did what normal people do, and we contacted the leasing office to see if we could have their maintenance people come and take a look at it. This is what they said:

"With the draft in your windows we refer you to go to lowes because they have an actual window insulation kit there that is super easy to put up."

Uh.. what? Really, we have to do it ourselves? Can't you at least send someone out to take a look? Nope, apparently not. Thanks.

So what did we do? Well, we went to Lowe's. There's one right next to the apartment complex and like I said, my husband knows his way around a power tool or two. We went and picked up some foam insulation and we installed it in the windows. We picked up one roll and were able to take care of most of the windows in the apartment.

during all of this, we were also dealing with a thermostat issue (that didn't get solved, but got dealt with), so between those two big changes we made, we were really hoping to see some improvements in our heat situation. I mean, we had a window problem, the management told us to get a foam insulation kit at Lowe's & fix the problem ourselves. We did everything they told us to do, so that should have fixed the problem... right?

Can you see the ICE? I can...
This is the picture that we took after we had already added the foam insulation... Ugh. We contacted the management again to see if they would send someone out to take a look at the problem. Because to me, frost/ice on the inside of the windows kind of seems like a problem.

This time the management did send someone (we had another un-related issue that needed to be looked at as well). I wish I had kept the work-order sheet or at least taken a picture, because the adive was priceless.

Put plastic up!

Thanks... thanks a lot.

Stay tuned, there's more to come.

Friday, January 3, 2014

What I Read in 2013

         Ever since I signed up for a Shelfari account in 2010, I've had a 50 book a year reading goal. I didn't come close that first year, but I only started counting in August. I came a little closer every year, and last year I managed to read 37 books.
         This year however, I started a new job, at a library. Do you see where I'm going with this? With unprecedented access to books, I've blown past my reading goal for this year. I finished my 50th book on August 3rd! And just kept going.

         Like I did last year, I want to post the completed list of everything that I read over the course of 2013. I have eclectic tastes, and they're reflected well here. I've put * next to books that I particularly enjoyed. You'll see a lot of *.


  1. Panic in Level 4: Cannibals, Killer Viruses and Other Journeys to the Edge of Science by Richard Preston
  2. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot*
  3. The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic - and How it Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World*
  4. Bad Brains by Kathe Koja
  5. All There Is... Love Stories from StoryCorps by Dave Isay
  6. My Life in France by Julia Child
  7. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln*
  8. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  9. The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History by John M. Barry
  10. Fire in the Blood by P. N. Elrod*
  11. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini*
  12. Fantastic Voyage: An Amazing Journey Through the Human Blood Stream by Issac Asimov
  13. Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures by Amber Dusick*
  14. Next by Micheal Crichton
  15. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
  16. Push by Sapphire*
  17. Bag of Bones by Stephen King*
  18. 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke
  19. Raising the Dead: Organ Transplants, Ethics and Society by Ronald Munson
  20. My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf
  21. 50 Shades of Grey by E. L. James
  22. Every Second Counts: The Race to Transplant the First Human Heart by Donald McRae*
  23. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
  24. Coraline by Neil Gaiman*
  25. Hide and Seek: Jewish Women and Hair Covering by Lynne Schreiber
  26. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs *
  27. Aaron and Ahmed by Jay Cantor
  28. Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch
  29. Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality by Hanne Blank
  30. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman*
  31. Herevill: How Mirka Met a Meteorite by Barry Deutsch
  32. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver*
  33. The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
  34. M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman
  35. Vampire Loves by Joann Sfar*
  36. The Woman in Black: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill
  37. Fat Vampire: A Never Coming of Age Story by Adam Rex
  38. Ink: The Not-Just-Skin-Deep Guide to Getting a Tattoo by Terisa Green
  39. Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach*
  40. Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth*
  41. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  42. Collecting Cooper by Paul Cleave
  43. It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini*
  44. Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women by Geraldine Brooks
  45. How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
  46. Joyland by Stephen King*
  47. The President's Vampire by Christopher Farnsworth
  48. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
  49. Chew: Taster's Choice by John Layman
  50. Virgin: The Untouched History by Hanne Blank*

And those were my first 50 books of 2013. Everything I read between January 1st 2013 through August 3rd 2013. 50 books in 7 months. :o) Not too shabby, huh? But that was just the beginning. I kept reading (since I'm still working at the library, I'm still reading like a fiend), and here are the rest of the books I read last year:

  1. Red, White and Blood by Christopher Farnsworth
  2. The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni
  3. Lizard Music by Daniel Pinkwater*
  4. Fat Men from Space by Daniel Pinkwater
  5. Moby Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them by Donovan Hohn*
  6. The Walking Dead: Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman*
  7. The Hoboken Chicken Emergency by Daniel Pinkwater*
  8. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  9. Orange is the New Black: One Year in a Women's Prison by Piper Kerman*
  10. Looking for Bobowicz: A Hoboken Chicken Story by Daniel Pinkwater
  11. Veiled Courage: Inside the Afghan Women's Resistance by Cheryl Benard
  12. The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure by Tristan Taormino
  13. Sleeping Naked is Green: How an Ecy-Cynic Unplugged Her Fridge, Sold Her Car, and Found Love in 366 Days by Vanessa Farquharson
  14. Big Brother by Lionel Shriver*
  15. The Blue Moose by Daniel Pinkwater
  16. Moosepire by Daniel Pinkwater
  17. Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat and Obsession by Julie Powell*
  18. The Walking Dead: Miles Behind Us by Robert Kirkman
  19. Son of Holmes by John Lescroart*
  20. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks
  21. Preacher: Gone to Texas by Garth Ennis*
  22. The Walking Dead: Safety Behind Bars by Robert Kirkman
  23. Doctor Sleep by Stephen King*
  24. Preacher: Until the End of the World by Garth Ennis
  25. The Walking Dead: The Heart's Desire by Robert Kirkman
  26. Rasputin's Revenge by John Lescroart
  27. The Walking Dead: The Best Defense by Robert Kirkman
  28. The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth*
  29. Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith
  30. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern*
  31. Preacher: Proud Americans by Garth Ennis
  32. Fables: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham*
  33. Fables: Animal Farm by Bill Willingham
  34. The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman 
  35. Feed by Mira Grant 
  36. Fortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman
  37. Spook by Mary Roach
  38. Posted to Death by Dean James
  39. Preacher: Ancient History by Garth Ennis

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy 2014!

I think that I'm finally over the whole "New Year's Resolutions" thing. Every year I make really specific resolutions. Like, I want to lose x number of pounds by September. Or that I want to do y many crunches per day, etc. And for the life of me, I don't know why I do this.

It doesn't help. It's not that I don't stick to them. I do, or at least, I try. But I just don't know what I'm accomplishing here. I don't think that making these ultra-specific goals helps me at all.
So what can I do? Well, here's something:

I formally resolve to make 2014 as awesome as I possibly can.

Happy 2014 everyone!