Friday, September 26, 2008

Branson, here we come!

I am very excited about our family vacation to Branson this weekend! Mom, Dad, Lauren, Rich and the munchkins have headed out today and Jeremy and I will be meeting them there tomorrow. We've reserved a fully furnished town home with three bedrooms and a kitchen so we can be together the whole time!

This is the first vacation we've all taken together since Livvie and Jack have come along. With Liv's food allergies, it's almost impossible for her to eat out. So this is the perfect way for them to experience a getaway but still be able to fix meals at home to ensure her safety.

The agenda is pretty much up in the air. The only place I have on my "MUST VISIT" list is Lamberts. We will be too close not to take advantage of the complete pig-out session they offer. :) They're known for their "throwed rolls," but I don't really care for bread, so I'm in it for the all-you-can-eat helpings of fried potatoes, fried okra and black-eyed peas. Mmm Mmm Mmm!

We're setting out first thing in the morning when Jeremy gets off work, so you can be sure I'll be driving. I'm actually looking forward to it, because that means I get to choose the music! *hehe* I have a limited number of playlists on my iPOD that he can tolerate...and his music choices don't float my musical boat either. (He likes country and Phil Collins. *rolls eyes*) When HE'S driving, it's crucial that we listen to music he knows and enjoys, otherwise we run the risk of him becoming drowsy. Well, tomorrow the goal will be to help him sleep, so I've got my broadway musical soundtracks cued and ready to go! ;) Oh, and my new music I found through Genius! That will be perfect. He'll sleep the whole way there! *haha*

We'll be back late Tuesday night. I'm sure I'll have lot's of fun photos and stories to share by next weekend! :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

If my iPOD had seams, it would be bursting at them!

I love music. I love my iPOD. And now, I love Genius. It's this amazing new device on iTUNES that suggests music you might like based on the songs that are already in your library. I spent a great deal of time (and money) on it when I first discovered it last weekend.
Sure, it's not always accurate and it's suggested some really random picks from time to time, but I really like to find new music to add to my collection and this is a dangerously easy way to do so. It really exploited the new curve my musical tastes have taken, but more on that in a minute.

I think I have fairly diverse taste in music. I like shmaltzy, sappy love songs but I also like angsty, you-broke-my-heart-you-jerk anthems (even though I've never been through a break-up of my own.) I get into deep, thoughtful lyrics, especially praise and worship songs that can be used as prayers, yet I also like music with a great beat and absolutely no substance to speak of. I love oldies...I grew up on songs from the 40's, 50's and 60's, so I have a fondness for them like most of my generation has for the 80's.

I love soundtracks to musicals. I love boy bands. I love Christmas music. I love great harmony. I love soulful divas that can really belt it out. I love disco. (Yes, disco. The funkier the better.) I have songs on my iPOD from all sorts of genres, including alternative, R&B, hiphop, pop, rock, folk and if you count Yanni, even New Age.

Before you start thinking I'm just not picky, there are SOME things I don't listen to. I'm not a fan of country music. (There are a few exceptions, but on the whole it doesn't grab me.) I don't like music with nasty (or "explicit," as they say) lyrics. (I memorize lyrics way too easily, I don't need that garbage floating around in my head.) And I don't like hardcore, screechy rock and sounds like Satan himself is singing the lead. That stuff just scares me. Even more than clowns! *haha* I can't handle opera. Being able to sing along is very important to me, so I don't like music with foreign lyrics. (The exception being if I can pretend to dance to it...*haha*) And even more specifically, I don't like: John Mayer, Phil Collins, Coldplay, Melissa Etheridge, James Blunt, Li'l Wayne (he SCARES me!!) Akon and Kenny Chesney (yes, technically inside the Country category, but I find his voice to be particularly unacceptable.

I mentioned earlier that my tastes have taken a turn. Well, recently, I've been drawn to music that's a little outside my box; music that's really mellow and laid back. I'm a fairly noisy person so I'm naturally drawn to things that are boisterous and busy. Lately I've been downloading some songs that are pretty chill.
I think it started with Sara Bareilles. You probably know her song, "Love Song," which every radio station has set out to make us sick of hearing by playing every 10 minutes. But I downloaded her album and it's really, really good. She writes some great lyrics and has an amazing voice. I particularly like the really sad and dramatic songs like "Gravity" and "Between the Lines." Again, I've never experienced anything she's talking about but my melodramatic tendencies really get into it. :)
Then I downloaded the soundtrack to Penelope (which as you'll remember, I loved) and it's quirky but relaxed vibe introduced me to Meiko. "Piano Song" is so much fun, I listen to it over and over. I loved it immediately.
Then I discovered Brooke Fraser when she was Editor's Pick on iTUNES one week. What a blessing that was. I have never heard such powerful, passionate love songs before...and they're all written to God. She clearly has such a close relationship with Him and is also obviously well-read in Scripture, as all of her songs have a poignant message. But again, her songs are very quiet.
So add all of that together and multiply it by iTUNES' new Genius feature...and it equals me discovering all sorts of music that's way off the beaten path. It suggested Lenka, whom I had never heard of but once I listened to a few samples of her album I knew I was going to like her. She's a little bit folk, a little bit pop...and really the best way I can describe her voice is cutsie. Her songs are playful and a little silly, but it makes GREAT crusin' around music. For me, anyway. :) My favorites are "The Show" and "Don't Let Me Fall."
I'm really looking forward to some cooler weather so I can open my windows, light some candles and sit back and relax to my new amazingly easy-going playlist. *sigh*

(P.S. I've changed my blog playlist in honor of my new finds and so you can listen to the artists I've mentioned here. I hope you enjoy!)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday randomness

I'm pleased to report to those of you who were keeping tabs on me, that I'm feeling much better! I think I ate some bad chicken (or I guess it could have been the mac&cheese) from Dillon's deli on Friday night and it pretty much wiped me out for the weekend. I was EMPTY, if you know what I mean, by Sunday morning. *ewww* I felt well enough to make it to work yesterday afternoon, but by day's end I was really weak. But this morning finds me eating cereal and feeling pretty perky! Hooray! :)

On Saturday I spent quite a bit of time on the computer since the office is in such close proximity to the bathroom. This was convenient for reasons that have probably become obvious by now. Anyways, here are some of my favorite finds! I found this at Urban Outfitters. It's a metal sign, about 11x17 and I think it would be AWESOME in my living room with my new NYC skyline picture! Yes? Yes! They also have Coney Island and Greenwich Village subway signs...but good ol' Brooklyn has the most color! :)

I WANT THIS. I can't believe no one thought of this sooner. It's a BUBBLE WRAP CALENDAR, folks!! There's a bubble to pop for each day of the year. Pure genius. I'm seriously gonna order one.

Kelly Purkey is in this month's Creating Keepsakes showing her cute little scrapbook nook. She also lists some of her favorite websites for inspiration. I'm always in need of ideas so I checked them out. The neatest one, I think, is Print & Pattern. It focuses on "the world of surface pattern design" and it's just dazzling to look through!

I like these:

And these:

Oh, and this:

I could go on and on! But I find two things frustrating about this place. 1. The website is based in the UK so most of the products are only available there. Grrrr. 2. Very few of the patterns are on scrapbook paper!!! So many pretties and nothing for me to scrapbook with! I realize miss Perkey is using this website for color combination inspiration...but I guess I'm too amateur. I want the product ITSELF to play with! :)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cubby, clipped and cleaned up

Before we kenneled the dogs over the weekend, I took Cubby to PetsMart for a light grooming. He didn't need much, just the fur around his ears and his tail trimmed up. (He also had fur sprouting from between his toes, which needed to be taken care of.) They did a wonderful job...didn't shave him down as I was afraid they would. *haha* In fact, the cut's so subtle you can hardly tell the difference. But isn't that what they say marks a good haircut? :)
He did really well, but you could tell he was pretty nervous to be a solo-dog. This was the first time I've taken him anywhere without one of the other two, so I know he had to be wondering what the heck was going on. When I picked him up he was fluffy soft and sporting the iconic Petsmart bandanna. That was the afternoon I was crashing hard with the sickies, so I was glad to have him all clean and sweet for cuddling purposes. :)



(This last picture makes me laugh. His head looks HUGE!)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Aye yi yi IKEA!

We got back late last night from a whirlwind trip to Dallas. We visited a mall or two, REI (though nothing was purchased there since there are currently no camping trips on the radar and we certainly won't need waterproof matches in New York City...I hope...) and other stores we don't have in Wichita. But the most important place we went (and our entire reason for going) was IKEA!

Those of you who know us well already know we have a slight obsession with this place. And those of you who have been to my home know that every single piece of furniture we own was purchased at IKEA. (Seriously. Ok, so maybe not one file cabinet or my old drafting table. But everything else.) So whenever we see the need to add an item of any sort to our decor, we make a pilgrimage to this wonderland of good deals and build-your-own furniture.

As much as I love IKEA, the place wears me out. That might have something to do with the fact that we can never get out of there quickly. On Monday, we were there for at least 7 hours. And folks, we normally can clear an entire mall in under 45 minutes. We're not poky and we don't doddle. We're the fast-walkers that run you over in Wal-Mart. But time stands still at IKEA. Partially because we love it so much and we try to bask in it's glory for as long as we can. It's also because I have no knack for interior design and I have to steal as many ideas as possible, which is overwhelming when we live so far away. Then there's the fact that we're normally dropping a significant chunk of change and we have to do the math continuously to make sure we're within budget. All in all, I always leave IKEA feeling exhausted and a little numb. (And this time it didn't help that I was feeling under the weather.)

Still thinking, "HOW ON EARTH could you spend so much time in ONE STORE?!?" You've obviously never been to IKEA! It's not just a store. It's monstrous. It's gigantic. Take three SAM's clubs and stack them on top of each other, and that's an IKEA. Except only one level of it resembles a warehouse. The top level is one huge showroom, with real "livable" rooms set up showing how you can live comfortably in relatively small spaces. They have examples of creative decorating and storage ideas. You can test out the sofas or the closet doors. The showroom level also has ALL of the furniture: a section for couches, a section for tables, a section for beds....etc. But you don't really SHOP from this section. You just write down the numbers corresponding to what you want to purchase and then pick it up when you get to the "warehouse."

The middle section is like Target on steroids: pots & pans, dishes, pillows, rugs, curtains, bedspreads, lamps, frames, mirrors...all for a steal of a deal! This leads into the last section, which is the warehouse where you grab up all of the items you picked out in the showroom. All of the furniture IKEA sells has to be assembled once you get it home. Everything comes in boxes and is flat as possible so you can pack it easier. So you load up your carts and mosey (wearily, in our case) to the checkout.

Wanna see some of the stuff we got? OF COURSE you do!!!
This is our new amazing sofa! (Sorry about the weird floating-in-space picture. It came that way off the website.) We wanted something bigger and comfier for our basement. Yes it's bright orange. Yes it's super-snazzy-fantabulous. Oh, and it has huge ottomans. AND, all of the cushions' slipcovers come off and can be dry-cleaned, which is a pretty good idea when you live in a dog house like we do. I love it! :)
This is the rug I have wanted to buy since the very first time we ever went to IKEA. It is HUGE and will cover almost our entire basment. I adore it! No, it's not as bright as the picture shows. It's BRIGHTER. Wow, have you really never seen my house? What would you expect? ;) It's going to tie our new super orange couch in with our existing red chairs that we already have down there, as well as tie in (if not completely cover) our hideous blue carpet we so terribly despise.

I am psyched about this find! Jeremy and I can never find art that we really agree on. I've always kinda liked black and white photography but wasn't sure if it went in our house. You know, with all the COLOR. *haha* Well, not only is this a beautiful black and white photograph of my beloved New York City, the splash of color rocks my world! It's going upstairs in the living room. They also had one of the Chicago skyline (Jeremy's city of choice: GO CUBS! GO BEARS!) which was equally fantastic, but it was out of stock. We'll definitely look for it next time we come back because they would look great next to each other on the wall. (Ahem, I only know this because that's how they had them displayed in the showroom. *haha* Told you a steal ideas!!!)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

DVR overload!!

How am I supposed to get anything done when they're bringing all of my favorite shows back at once?!? Well, "all" is an exaggeration, of course, but there are quite a few series starting back up that I don't feel I can miss out on. I'm trying to decide what the better time management method would be; watch one each night or watch them ALL at once in one huge slot of wasted time. Fiddlesticks. Whatever the case, my DVR (and my poor husband) are going to be wondering what the heck is going on. And BOTH of them will probably be deleting things before I'm ready to! *haha*

The Amazing Race
Wednesdays @ 7:00pm
The Travel Channel (used to be on CBS but they've moved it this year)

Yes it's the 12th season and no there probably isn't any place left on the globe that this show HASN'T traveled to, but I still absolutely love it. I certainly haven't watched all 12 seasons, but each one that I have gotten into has been completely engrossing. I love the drama between teams and the craaaaazy challenges they have to complete. And I just plain love the constant motion and excitement of all the traveling they do! If I didn't think Jeremy and I would completely eat each other alive, I would try out for this show. But there is no way, no how, that the two of us could handle the stress and not make complete jerks out of ourselves...ON national tv for everyone to see. No no no, I'm not that stupid. I'll keep our petty arguments behind closed doors, thank you very much. And in the meantime I'll enjoy watching OTHER people break down due to the pressure! What fun! ;)

Top Design
Wednesdays @ 9:00pm

This falls into the "reality-design-competition" category of television that I can't seem to get enough of. Project Runway is clothes, Sheer Genius is hair, and here is Top Design, which is all about interior decorating! What's not fun about that? Yes, most of the contestants need a major ego deflation and the judges are so posh they're prissy, but I just love to see what these designers can come up with on a whim and throw together in a matter of hours!! I rarely get inspired by anything they DO, however, and spend most of my time critiquing their work. *haha* But it's still a lot of fun.

Dog Town
Fridays @ 7:00pm
National Geographic Channel

This is the show I am hands-down, flat-out MOST excited about coming back! I thought it had been cancelled because it's been off the air for a while, turns out it was just in between seasons I guess. The show is about this amazing dog rescue center in New Mexico called Dog Town. They take dogs that no one else wants, either because they're too old, too sick, or too aggressive to be adopted. Most of them are rehabilitated and given good homes, but the ones that aren't adopted are allowed to stay there on the ranch with people who take care of them and give them affection. (There's a "senior center" for older dogs. It has soft doggie beds and couches and air conditioning, so they can live out their final days in peace and comfort.) I was SO thrilled to see that this center is where many of the pitt bulls from the Michael Vick case were sent! Apparently, this new season centers around their rehabilitation. (The dog in the picture on the right is one of these pitt bulls. Looks like an amazing transformation already!) The show premiers tomorrow night. You really should check it out. The stories are amazingly touching. Of course, I do kinda have a thing for dogs. You might not have noticed. *hehe*

Prison Break
Mondays @ 8:00pm


*sigh* How could I forget to mention Prison Break? This is a show that we got in on kinda late. Much like with Lost, we had to get caught up by watching DVD's of the early seasons. Once we watched those first few episodes, Jeremy and I were both hooked. And I can't even begin to express how PSYCHED I am that they're bringing Dr. Sarah Tancredi BACK from the DEAD! *haha* Yes, from the dead, for those of you who don't watch. Do I care that it is completely implausible that they could have faked her death (seeing as how her decapitated head was in a box)? NO! I will accept whatever ridiculous scenario they give me, as long as it means that Sarah and Michael can be together again. *dramatic sigh* Either I'm a hopeless romantic or a complete idiot. ;)

So folks, if you start to notice that my blog is being neglected, it's because I'm trying to get caught up on all of my favorite tv shows! Gimme a break, they'll be over in like three months. *hehe*

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Cutest Blog on the Block!

While blog-hopping today I found this neato website that has FREE (you heard me, FREE!) blog backgrounds! I uploaded this one and am super excited. They had a whole bunch that looked like scrapbook backgrounds....even some that looked glittery! *squeal* Don't be surprised if my blog has a new background every week. Or more. ;)

I am LOVING this weather! It reminds me of the mountains. Coolness in the air, gray skies...*sigh* I took the dogs for a walk last night before the rain rolled in and even wore a JACKET! Fall is coming, Hallelujah! I know cloudy days depress some people, and if that's you I'm sorry. But I adore them. Always have. My Mom and sister are the same way...maybe it's hereditary? All the same, we wait impatiently for Fall and the so-called "gloominess" that comes with it. I love that God created seasons. There is always something to look forward to in His beautiful world!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Lucky You! It's The Sweet Life!

I took advantage of the beautiful cool weather this morning and had a "photo-shoot" with some new products I got in the mail on Saturday. (I tried it indoors but I kept getting a glare from the ceiling lights.)

These are both the lines from Colorbok that I mentioned in an earlier post. (You know, the stuff I was told looked like it came from the dollar store.) Well, I decided to take a risk anyway and order it from 2P's. This is the first time I've ordered scrapbook supplies online. It was an exhilarating experience!!! :) I'd best be careful or it become addictive. *haha*

This is "The Sweet Life" line. It's all about candy and cupcakes and cherries. I knew it would be cute but it is BEYOND adorable. I absolutely love it. One of my favorite pieces is that one on top that says "Good Times Always." It's HUGE! It's got to be at least 5X5. It's going to be so fun to use on a page. Actually, all of the chipboard was much larger than I'd expected. There are also some really cute die cut words that say "Love" and "Family" in swirly, cutesie fonts. I'm in love with this set. :)

This is the set I initially fell in love with and the whole reason I decided to place an order. I felt I needed this RIGHT AWAY in order to continue my book "About Me." ;) Some of the chipboard shapes are a little out there (like the heart with wings...not sure what I'll do with that one) but I really like everything else. It's all doodled and funky. My favorite is the pad of journaling sheets. They're perfect for a few pages I have in mind. CAN'T WAIT! *woohoo*

Cubby dropped by during the photo shoot a couple of times to check on my progress. He likes to be involved whenever possible. :) He likes the "Lucky You" line the best I think.

Enjoy your Labor Day!