New Songs to Fill Your Ears With

Monday, October 21, 2013

This 1945 song. Made famous by that modern television series. Kinda catchy, no?

In case you haven't heard, The Head and the Heart recently released their second album. Translation: I have been listening to it nonstop. Especially the four minutes that are These Days Are Numbered.

For anyone that says they can't handle operatic music hear me out. Lawrence Brownlee, a soulful tenor, is going to make you a believer. Click on over to the Tiny Desk Concert (since the code isn't cooperating). Oh, and while you're there, do yourself a favor and listen to 10 minutes of this delicious "homey fireside music." 

Two DIY Projects for Under $40

Friday, October 18, 2013

First it was a vintage cart, then it was the dining room chairs. You're probably thinking I've gone into full-blown crazy mode. What can I say? Whenever I come across a renter friendly DIY project I like I get really excited. Like Hooray! I want to make this RIGHT NOW. Both of these projects are super easy and inexpensive. You could easily make them in a weekend. The first project I made is a color block mood board. For this I used a cork board that I had on hand and then purchase paint and a smooth roller brush. The board dried in a couple hours and now lives in our living room, where I can display pictures, poems, or anything that inspires me. I even posted four of my life goals on the board. Think of this project as an extension of your kitchen fridge. Only prettier.

For the second project I needed a way to display the postcrossing postcards I have received in the last year. Enter this DIY wood & wire art display. PERFECT. I followed Liz Marie's tutorial and ended up with a stylish and functional display. (The only difficulty I ran into was finding enough bulldog clips for all 21 postcards.) Once it was finished GH hung the three boards on our kitchen wall with command strips. And I love it! The best part is I can easily swap out postcards for celebratory phrases or other pieces of art. What's not to love?

Pull Up a Chair

Monday, October 14, 2013

Ever since we got married I've wanted to ditch our Ikea dining room chairs for something a little more comfortable. A few months ago I purchased a thrifted red oak farm table, so I really wanted to swap out our black chairs for something lighter. Sadly most of the chairs I looked at purchasing were between $250-$400 each. Yikes! Every now and then I'd check local antique stores for a less expensive alternative, but quickly learned it's rare to find chairs without the table. Since I didn't want to buy a dining room set, only to sell the table, I kept looking.

Then last week I found them! Four wood chairs with spacious cushion seats. Perfect for our dining room table. With a little negotiation I talked the seller down and had him load the chairs into the car. Luckily I managed to snap a couple photos on my phone before diving into the project.

Once the cushions were removed I washed the wood with Murphy Oil soap and let them dry. After they were dry I applied a layer of Old English for light wood and set them aside to dry for another couple hours. Finally, I applied a layer of lemon oil with an old cloth and let that soak into the wood overnight. After examining the old padding we decided to invest in some new foam. Although the crushed green velvet seats felt nice to the touch, they were worn and needed an update. Choosing the fabric was probably the hardest part. We selected five free swatches at our local fabric outlet and eventually decided on the gold vinyl. (Which has a beautiful shimmer that you can't see in the photos.) Covering the chairs took a couple of days, but I was so impressed that GH found a way to cover the corners so they looked like they were professionally done. All told the entire project including the chairs, foam, fabric, screws, and wood cleaner cost $325. Not bad for a custom set of furniture. We can't wait for our next dinner party, where we'll happily put them to the test!

Becoming a DIY Diva

Sunday, October 13, 2013

"It ain't what you got, it's what you make." —Shovels & Rope

In my former life (as in a month ago), I had an unusual fear of hardware stores. Meaning they intimidate me. Big time. Make something with food? No problem. Create a handcrafted greeting card? Easy. Sew a quilt. Done. But a trip to the hardware store? Noooo!

With several deep breaths I told myself I CAN DO THIS.

After scoring a $5 vintage cart at a yard sale I trucked off to the hardware store and explained my project to the sales associate. They offered a few tips (e.g., steel wool for removing rust) and pointed me towards the needed items. Supplies cost an additional $25 and with a little work I ended up with not only a new cart (Yay!), I discovered a new-found confidence that has turned into a domino effect.

Cesky Krumlov, Czeck Republic, Day 11—13

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Originally, Cesky Krumlov had not been on our itinerary. What a mistake that would have been. However we almost didn't make it there. Here's what happened. After a three hour train ride from Budapest to Vienna we were instructed to wait for our shuttle bus at the appointed hour and location. Dutifully we waited at the train station. And waited. But as minutes ticked on, with no sign of our shuttle, I started to panic. Our one daily chance to catch the shuttle bus to take us the additional three hours to Cesky Krumlov was slipping away. And while staying in Vienna wouldn't have been the worst thing in the world, it wasn't on our agenda. Which is when I ran across the street to enlist the help of a stranger. Who kindly let us use his phone even though my call was to a German number. After several wrong phone numbers I eventually made contact and found our equally frazzled driver. Poor guy. He was so stressed about leaving us that we couldn't really be mad about the situation.

Getting to the second most popular city in the Czeck Republic is an adventure even without nearly missing your bus. Traversing the Austrian countryside made my heart swell. Until my stomach lurched. Small winding roads, however gorgeous, meant motion sickness for me. Needless to say I was glad to arrive at our final destination. As a reward we were greeted with the most perfect light. Light so delicious it drenched the entire city in a golden haze.

Nestled along the Vltava River, landing in Cesky Krumlov is a bit like waking up in a fairy tale. Our first morning I woke before the sun and climbed the hill behind our hostel to view the medieval city from afar. As I stretched my arms to take in every dewy blade and wildflower, I wanted to hold that holy moment for as long as possible. For me, removing myself from throngs of tourists, setting aside my camera, and being in nature are some of the most wonderful parts of travel.

On the coldest day of our trip we decided to paddle down the river. You know, because that's the wisest choice. The man selling us our rental assured us that we'd only get a "couple drops" of water on us when passing through the five locks. Hah. It was basically like Splash Mountain, where the person sitting in front (me) ends up drenched. To complicate matters early in our two hour journey we ended up getting stuck in shallow water. (Thankfully my brother got out and pushed us off the rocks.) Although we were both soaked from the knees down and despite our little mishap, we chalked it up to good memories and still loved soaking in the autumn colors strewn on both sides of the river.

While it's easy to account for sights we saw and meals we ate, for me, the most important moments of this trip were the conversations I had with my brother. Getting to know him better and feeling closer to him because of our time together. In the end, that's what I cherish most about this trip. Although I don't live near my family it was a reminded of how grateful I am for them. These choice individuals that share their stories with me and allow me to create new stories with them.

For other glimpses of Eastern Europe see Prague, Bratislava, and Budapest.
All images by me.

Currently | 10.08.2013

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Lately I've been spending a lot of time with this guy. Proving my love by wearing no makeup and a baseball cap. BAM. Now that I've fully recovered from jet leg here's what I've been up to lately.

MAKING:  Last week GH and I picked 40 pounds of apples at Centennial Farms. Forty pounds! From that I have made apple cranberry jam, apple muffins, apple chips, homemade apple cider (SO GOOD) and this gorgeous French apple tart.

READING: Rarely do I start a book and not finish it. However I'm not certain I'll finish our book club selection for the month. Maybe I've just had my fill of YA books this year. Besides, my entire being is pulling me to read You are a Badass by Jen Sincero. It seems that the universe is telling me I need this book.

WATCHING: Is it safe to admit I started watching Breaking Bad last week? This is another uncertainty in my life as I can't decide Should I/Should I Not continue watching it.

LISTENING TO: Podcasts. I'm way behind, but at least they make going to the gym somewhat tolerable.

EXCITED FOR: Pie Day! Is it too early to start planning?

Budapest, Hungary, Day 7—10

Monday, October 7, 2013

From Bratislava we took a three hour train ride to arrive at our next destination: the now joined city of Buda and Pest. And oh what a city. Of all the places we visited Budapest stole my heart. Something about the energy in that place. Or perhaps it was our perfectly situated VRBO apartment. Or the fine weather. Or maybe it was a place that was beloved by our aunt Colleen, who inspired the trip in the first place. Not to mention our impeccable timing, arriving at the start of the National Gallop—a celebration of Hungarian traditions including horseback riding, miles of crafts and wares, traditional food, people watching, and street performers all lining the Andrássy út (Budapest's main boulevard) to Hero's Square. Whatever it was I know I'll be recalling Budapest for years to come.

Because I love exploring new places on bike we spent an entire day crossing over bridges between the Buda and Pest sides of the city. We stopped at the Great Market Hall to load up on tins of famous sweet and spicy paprika. (Some of which I've already used!) We locked our bikes and took the funicular to see the changing of the guards outside Hungary's equivalent of the White House (not an old tradition but a stately and somewhat touristy one nonetheless). We zigzagged recklessly through city streets, without a map, feeling our way to Budapest's City Park just to see the castle one more time. Interestingly the castle, which was built for Hungary's 1896 Millennial Exhibition, was erected with temporary material, to be torn down at the end of the festival as was common for most world's fairs. But locals loved Vajadahunyad Castle so much that they insisted it stay, so it was rebuilt in brick and stone and greeted us with its majestic arches and Renaissance gate.

We ate at Menza.Twice. And had cold plum soup that I'll remember until the day I die. Of course no trip to Budapest is complete without taking the waters, as the locals call it, so we spent a fair bit of time at the Széchenyi Baths, watching old men play chess, while making our way through the hot mineral pools and sauna. My favorite part was getting spun through the circular open horseshoe, since it made everyone smile and look like goofy big kids.

For other glimpses of Eastern Europe see PragueBratislava, and Cesky Krumlov
All images by me.

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