Thursday, April 28, 2011

Apparel Review: Gap Ballet Flats

For the last week I have been living in a pair of the Gap's city flat ballet shoes. I think I'm in love! They are sooo comfortable. I actually look forward to standing when I'm wearing them because it feels so good :).

I have seen a few reviews online saying that they fall apart quickly, but so far I haven't had a problem. But even if I only get one season out of them, it will be okay because I bought them on sale at the Gap outlet for $15!!

I highly recommend trying them out. To be honest, I was hesitant at first because when I looked at them they didn't look comfortable, but once I put them on I couldn't take them off. They seem to run on the slightly small side, I probably should have gone up a half size so I recommend trying them on before buying.

Click here if you would like to see them on the Gap's website - Gap did not pay for this review, but if they would like to send me another pair of flats I wouldn't say no ;).

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tales From the Past

In 1933 when my Grandfather was 7 years old, his parents loaded him and his brother into their Model T and began the trek from Santa Barbara, CA all the way to Chicago, IL. The purpose of this trip was to see the World's Fair, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the founding of Chicago. They took a meandering route so that they could stay with family along the way. Travel was much more difficult in those days, so it was a rare treat for my Great-Grandma to have the opportunity to see her 12 siblings again.

Once they finally arrived at the World's Fair, my Grandfather was thrilled by the train and airplane exhibits.

He would have seen this plane, and it may have been what started him on the path to joining the Air Force during the Korean war.

When I asked him more questions about the fair, my Grandfather's clearest memories were of the trains, planes, tractors and cars - I imagine these must have thrilled him as a 7 year old.

His stories prompted me to do some more research on the exhibits. I discovered that there was an entire building dedicated to the Dairy industry - with exhibits describing how the first cows came over with the pilgrims, up to the current dairy methods.

I began to think about my Grandfather's life, how he was a navigator on bombers during the Korean war, and then later a dairy man. I wonder if his parents realized how much that summer trip would impact his decisions later in life.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Birthday Plans

I am a fan of celebrating the birthday month and since my birthday is toward the very end of April, I am one of the lucky ones who gets quite a bit of mileage out of my birthday.

Now that the actual day has arrived, I plan to spend some time reading in the sun, redeeming birthday freebies and hanging out with friends. And of course, enjoying a relaxing dinner and evening with the hubs :).

Monday, April 25, 2011

Quotes to Ponder

Tomorrow is my birthday, so I have especially enjoyed the quotes below :)

We turn not older with years, but newer each day.
~Emily Dickinson

It takes a long time to become young
~Pablo Picasso

When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it happened or not.
~Mark Twain

At 20 years of age the will reigns; at 30 the wit; and at 40 the judgment.
~Benjamin Franklin

Friday, April 22, 2011

Weekly Round-Up #10

Blog posts, articles, videos and other things we found over the past few days that we think are worth passing on:

Michelle, a contributor to the Centsational Girl blog, shared tips for infusing coastal elements into your home decor in a way that doesn't scream "beach house."

Adri ran across a post for the Art of Manliness on how to bowl a strike. She hasn't had a chance to put any of the tips into practice yet, but hopes to be able to do so very soon.

Adri thought the post from Melissa of 320 Sycamore on how to make drawer pulls from ribbon or rope was quite informative and did a good job of explaining a very clever (& inexpensive!) decorating trick.

Rebekah loves the recipes at Dinner: A Love Story.

An informative and entertaining look at the coffee bean

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lilacs, Lilacs Everywhere!

Ah, lilacs! Perhaps one of my favorite things about spring is the wonderful scent that lilac blooms bring to my parents' property. I've had a love affair with these flowers ever since I was a young girl and there was a large lilac bush on the property we were renting. I loved the gorgeous, light purple color and the heavenly scent! When my parents purchased their place a few years later, one of the first things I did was plant a lilac tree outside my bedroom window. Sadly, it didn't bloom for several years, but now, does it over bloom! My mom planted additional lilacs around the property and so we have a variety of shades to pick and make arrangements to bring indoors. Here are some pictures I snapped of the flowers when I was home last weekend:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer by Walt Whitman

When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much
   applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

5 More Quick Tricks for Saving Money on Clothes

For tips 1-5, see the original post.

6. Not everything that says "Dry-Clean Only" has to be only dry-cleaned. Some of it will survive a wash on the delicate setting just fine. But you have to be very careful with this and know the fabric you're dealing with. Silk should always be dry-cleaned - and your best bet with wool is to dry-clean, it, too. But if it's some sort of blend or knit and you have something similar in your closet that says you can wash it on the cold cycle, then chances are you can wash this garment on the delicate setting too. I've found that a lot of higher-end brands tend to put "Dry-Clean Only" on their tags, but I have yet to come up with a satisfactory explanation for that practice.

7. Never buy anything full-price. It is very, very rare for an item to sell so well that it is never discounted. If you're willing to play the waiting game, it is almost guaranteed that you can get any item you want at 20% or more off the original price. I can't remember a piece of clothing I've purchased in the past 3+ years that I paid full-price for.

8. Only buy clothes that fit and look good on you now. Don't buy something that will fit once you lose the 5 pounds you're planning to lose in the next 3 weeks. Don't buy something that will look good once you start doing 50 crunches a day and have toned abs. Don't count on those things happening. If you don't have the body to wear the clothes at the moment you purchase them, they should stay in the store and your money should stay in your pocket. There will still be clothes around to purchase after you lose that extra fat or gain some additional muscle.

9. Figure out what your style is so you can instantly decide whether or not an item will fit with the rest of your wardrobe. Don't buy pieces that don't go with anything you already have. You shouldn't have to purchase a whole new outfit every time you buy a new shirt. Figure out if you enjoy wearing bright colors or if you prefer neutrals with splashes of color, and then buy items that fit with that aesthetic.

10. Buy fewer, higher-quality pieces rather than many, low-quality pieces. In my not-too-distant teenage years, I bought most of my clothes from stores like Target, Aeropostale, and Old Navy. Unfortunately, most of their tops are not of the best construction and don't last very long. Over the last few years, I've purchased most of my tops from stores such as Ann Taylor Loft, Gap, and J. Crew and as a result I've spent a lot less money because the clothes last longer and I have to replace them less often. The phrase "you get what you pay for" is particularly true when it comes to the quality of your clothes. Catch things on sale and you'll hardly be spending more than you would at the lower-end stores.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Photo of the Week

This picture makes me want to leave for the nearest beach today!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Yes, We Were Strange Children

Is it odd that at the age of 23, I can still remember the address of the house I lived in for the first 7 years of my life?

That's a random question and it really doesn't have anything to do with this post. Except that what I'm about to write about took place in that home.

That old house had four bedrooms and a fairly large living room, dining room, and kitchen. But the place where we children spent most of our time was in the enclosed addition off the living room. We called it the schoolroom but we did everything in there. We played with hard rubber animals, legos, and wooden blocks. We read books. We built "secret" forts and hid from each other. We ran around. We did school. We watched our mom sew. And we made lots and lots of crafts. Mostly paper chains made of construction paper, which always resulted in little scraps of paper landing on the floor.

The floor in the schoolroom was covered in an atrocious indoor-outdoor, bright tealish-blue carpet. The carpet was rough in texture and it grabbed onto everything, especially little scraps of paper.

Growing up, my parents never allowed us to chew gum (bear with me here, I promise this is going somewhere). I'm not sure where my parents' dislike of chewing gum came from, but I know they thought it looked disrespectful. My dad, who was a teacher in a public classroom at the time, had us all memorize the following poem:

The gum-chewing student
And the cud-chewing cow
They're both alike
But they're different, somehow
What is the difference?
I can see it all now
'Tis the intelligent look
On the face of the cow

(Author unknown)

On occasion, an older woman from the church we attended would give all the children half a stick of gum after service. This was a rare and wonderful treat and we would chew the gum for as long as we possibly could.

A little over half our friends were allowed to chew gum on a regular basis and we always looked at them a bit enviously. Chewing gum looked cool, we thought, and the fact that it was forbidden in our family made it seem that much cooler.

So, back to the schoolroom. After our craft-making sessions, our mom would invariably call a "10-Minute Blitz" which meant that for 10 minutes, all of the children would clean the schoolroom (this is a very effective method for straightening, by the way). The most time-consuming part of the process was picking up all the bits of paper. Because of the texture of the carpet, vacuuming would not pick them up, so we had to do it by hand.

This next part is where it gets strange. We really, really wanted to chew gum. So we pretended that the little papers were gum. While we went around picking up the scraps, we would put the medium-small pieces in our mouths and chew them. Sometimes we would chew the construction paper the entire time we were cleaning. After we were done, we'd spit the paper out in the trash can.

We even pretended that the different colors represented different flavors. My favorite was red.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Quotes from Daddy-Long-Legs

Have you ever read the book Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster? It's a simple yet delightful story, told primarily through the letters of the main character. I first read it when I was about 12-years-old and since then it's been one of my go-to stories when I want an easy and quick pick-me-up read. Here are some of my favorite snippets from the letters in the book:

"I'd love pretty hats and things, but I mustn't mortgage the future to pay for them."

"In the country, especially, there are such a lot of entertaining things. I can walk over everybody's land and look at everybody's view, and dabble in everybody's brook; and enjoy it just as much as though I owned the land - and with no taxes to pay!"

"One can't help thinking what a colorless life a man is forced to lead, when one reflects that chiffon and Venetian point and hand embroidery and Irish crochet are to him mere empty words. Whereas a woman - whether she is interested in babies or microbes or husbands or poetry or servants or parallelograms or gardens or Plato or bridge - is fundamentally and always interested in clothes."

"The world is full of happiness and plenty to go around, if you are only willing to take the kind that comes your way."

"I have a terrible wanderthirst; the very sight of a map makes me want to put on my hat and take an umbrella and start."

"It's a very bewildering matter to get educated in five branches at once.
" 'The test of true scholarship,' say Chemistry Professor, 'is a painstaking passion for detail.'
" 'Be careful not to keep your eyes glued to detail,' says History Professor. 'Stand far enough away to get a perspective on the whole.'
"You can see with what nicety we have to trim our sails between chemistry and history. I like the historical method best. If I say that William the Conqueror came over in 1492 and Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1100 or 1066 or whenever it was, that's a mere detail that the Professor overlooks."

"It isn't the great big pleasures that count the most; it's making a great deal out of the little ones - I've discovered the secret to happiness and that is to live in the now. Not to be forever regretting the past, or anticipating the future, but to get the most that you can out of this very instant."

Friday, April 8, 2011

Weekly Round-Up #10

Things we liked this week:

Rebekah sadly suffers from this condition.

This series of stylish bicyclists is inspiring me (Rebekah) to wear cuter outfits while cycling.

While exploring etsy, Rebekah found several gorgeous paintings of the Golden Gate bridge.
Her favorites can be found here (on a sunny day), here (love the stormy colors), and here (on a typically foggy day).

Kate (the Centsational Girl) shared what Adrielle thought was a clever way to make cute & inexpensive dessert stands.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Frame-tastic Target Finds

I recently found some awesome deals on two different trips to Target. On the first trip, I picked up these two frames:

As you can see in the photo above, I got them dirt-cheap! $1.24 for the blue and white frame and $1.48 for the green frame.

I'm thinking they'll look great hanging on a wall with my next find, this ~$6.00 red frame with a tandem bicycle silhouette. So cute!

I played around with a couple arrangements and so far this is the one I like best, but I'm still not entirely satisfied with it. Most likely I'll stay on the lookout for other frames to add to these for a more eclectic vibe.

And of course, I still need to decide on some photos or artwork to put in the two empty frames. I have a couple things in mind...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

In a Library by Emily Dickinson

A precious, mouldering pleasure 't is
To meet an antique book,
In just the dress his century wore;
A privilege, I think,

His venerable hand to take,
And warming in our own,
A passage back, or two, to make
To times when he was young.

His quaint opinions to inspect,
His knowledge to unfold
On what concerns our mutual mind,
The literature of old;

What interested scholars most,
What competitions ran
When Plato was a certainty.
And Sophocles a man;

When Sappho was a living girl,
And Beatrice wore
The gown that Dante deified.
Facts, centuries before,

He traverses familiar,
As one should come to town
And tell you all your dreams were true;
He lived where dreams were sown.

His presence is enchantment,
You beg him not to go;
Old volumes shake their vellum heads
And tantalize, just so.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

5 Quick Tricks for Saving Money on Clothes

Here are a few things I've learned over the past couple years that have helped me save money on clothes. Some of these may seem basic to some people, but a "refresher course" never hurt anyone!

1. Always, always, always wash jeans inside out! The fabric will retain it's color for a much longer period of time.

2. On second thought, wash ALL of your clothes inside out. What's true for jeans is true for everything else in your wardrobe, too. The only things I don't always wash inside out are my sweatshirts (when they're especially dirty) and clothes whose color I don't care about - like my workout clothes and pajamas, for instance. Extra tip: turn your clothes inside out as you take them off or throw them in your hamper; this will save you an irksome extra step when you go to throw it all in the machine.

3. Know your delicates! And treat them as such. Always wash your delicates on the delicate cycle and never ever tumble-dry them! Delicates should always be hung-dried - tumble-drying creates all kinds of friction that wears down the fibers in your garments, causing them to have a much shorter wearable life.

4. Wash most of your other clothes (especially jeans! Again, this will help with color-retention) on the delicate cycle, too, and hang-dry them whenever possible. Refer to Trick #3 for the reasons why. The only clothes I don't regularly treat like delicates are my pajamas, workout clothes, sweatshirts, socks, and underwear. Everything else: if in doubt, it goes in with the delicates.

5. Safety-pin socks, etc. together so they don't get separated. Some people who know I do this have accused me of being OCD (and I probably am), but since implementing this little trick about a year-and-a-half ago, I've only lost 1.5 pairs of socks and haven't needed to purchase any new ones. And that also includes my hiking socks, sock liners, and knee-highs (I know, I know! but they're great for when I wear pants to work). I'd estimate that this trick saves me $15+ per year, easily!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Weekly Round-Up #9

So...did anyone play any pranks today? Or were you the victim of a prank? As a reformed prankster, I (Ashton) didn't participate in any pranking.
If you are thinking about playing a prank, I thought these were creative and genuinely funny :)
Any fun plans for this weekend?

Ashton and The Hubs are going ballroom dancing with friends, and hosting Rebekah's younger brother for the weekend.

Adri is holding a "Slob Fest" with her roommates. Details next week - and no, it won't be quite as awful as it sounds, but you should still brace yourself.

Some things we found and loved this week:

Ashton found the perfect thing to go at the foot of her bed. Isn't it amazing that something so elegant can be made so affordably?

While stumbling around the internet, Adrielle found this awesome, typographically rendered bicycle. Does she want a print of it? Is that even a question?

Adrielle came across this post from Centsational Girl with tips on adding color to your decor. So many inspirational pictures!

And Ashton found a great article on tastefully adding patterns to any room

This comic strip about Facebook made Adrielle laugh because it is all too true of every Facebook account, ever.

One of Adrielle's friends recently introduced her to the music of Melody Gardot. She's been enjoying this particular song a lot.