Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Before There is Order, There is First Chaos

I have excellent news to report. My favorite design inspiration, Apartment Therapy contacted me about posting a house tour of my apartment on their website. Of course I'm going to say yes, but I optimistically said one week was enough time to get all the miscellaneous projects that I wanted to complete done. So I carefully planned my week, figuring out all the projects and what needed to be done to accomplish them. Specifically, I wanted to sew curtains for my closets, finish my lampshade project, and build a box/light box thing to store my bike in, as it doesn't match my color scheme. So the date was set for Sunday, November 23.

Saturday - The first day was spent sewing my curtains. You would think that, being an engineer and all, I could convert from feet to inches, but no. I measured the width of the closet, 84 inches, and thought in my head, oh 6 feet. I went to the fabric store and bought plenty of fabric, even given my stupid conversion, but unfortunately that didn't carry over to my cutting the fabric out. They were almost complete before I realized that the curtains were each going to be 6 inches too skinny. Luckily there is a little bit of slack, so it didn't turn out terrible, but I learned to always double check my measurements AND conversions. Not only did I screw up the width of the curtains, I managed to make one an inch or so too long, which was really noticeable because of the border at the bottom that didn't line up. But after spending 5 hours making the darn things and finally getting them up, I gave up and saved fixing that for another day.

Sunday - This was the planning day. The idea was that if I planned everything out, I would be incredibly efficient and not waste any time. That was the idea anyway. I also did a little shopping and picked up some project supplies at Target.

Monday - I have no recollection of Monday. The entire week is kind of a blur and apparently Monday has just dropped out all together.

Tuesday - This was the Home Depot run day, to pick up all the bike box/light box supplies and any other miscellaneous things I needed. I had decided that my dining area screamed "I shop way too much at Ikea", so I thought I would paint my chairs. After sending boyfriend off to pick up all the box materials, I proceeded to the paint department to try to match the red color in my rug from a poorly lit picture on my camera. Needless to say, I spent the entire 2 hours we were at Home Depot wavering between varying shades of red. After picking it out, getting the wood, and also the epoxy needed to finish the lamp shade, we take off. After hauling the 4'x6' sheets of plywood into my apartment, I decide that the box idea is just ridiculous as the box would be ginormous (6'x6'x2'). You would think I would have thought about this previously, but no.

Wednesday - I had to spend a lot of time trying to figure out what to do instead of the bike box. I finally figured out a design for a room divider/screen that still incorporated the light box feature and was just barely possible given the wood I had bought. Once I got home, I engaged in some deep-cleaning. I have never scrubbed a bathroom tile floor with a toothbrush prior to this, and I never want to do it again.

Thursday - This was originally going to be the bike box construction day, but we figured that my neighbors wouldn't really appreciate us using a circular saw at night, so we had to save that for Saturday. Instead it was time to tackle the lampshade project. I had previously formed the lampshade from clay, which took several trial and error runs, and then baked it, which was an interesting project as I also had to bake the sharpie markers which were providing the shape of the lampshade. Unfortunately, oven-baked clay is a bit precarious, so boyfriend came up with the idea of using fiberglass cloth and epoxy to strengthen it, like what is used for auto-body repair. So we were able to get one side of the lamp fiberglassed and epoxied, but that meant I had to spend the night with the window wide-open, which is always fun in the middle of November. We also got the dining room chairs painted, and they looked fabulous.

Friday - The original plan was to take a break on Friday night. Instead I spent the evening staining the wood, which turned out a completely different color than I anticipated, as well as staining my feet, hands, arms, and any other extremities that happened to get in the way. While at work, I had also had an idea for an art project. Well, maybe boyfriend came up with's all running together now. Anyway, we had once seen these framed pictures which were basically a collage of many 4x6 photos joined together in a mish-mash fashion to make a big picture. So boyfriend suggested that the beautiful gingko trees that I had taken pictures of last weekend would match my apartment beautifully, if we did something like that and pinned them up on a bulletin board. So he raced home to catch the last of the evening light, only to discover that all the leaves were gone, as we had had massive winds that week. Darn. So photo idea number 2 was the Marylin Monroe mural that I have loved ever since I moved to DC, at the Woodley Park metro station. So boyfriend hopped on his bike and took a bazillion pictures of that. Getting them developed proved to be a bit difficult as well, as every photo developing machine in Columbia Heights happened to be on the fritz. So boyfriend wasn't able to come over and help with stuff for quite a while. We lay out all the pictures and decide that the final picture isn't quite big enough, and CVS did a crappy job printing them. Oh well, we'll worry about that tomorrow. We also fiberglassed and epoxied the other side of the lampshade.

Saturday - This is the big push, as everything had to be done by 10 am on Sunday. Unfortunately, boyfriend and I were walking in the Help the Homeless walkathon Saturday morning, so that took a bite out of our work time. We rushed back from the walkathon, went to Whole Foods to pick up some lunch and flowers (also took a large amount of time, due to my indecisiveness), and then back to my apartment. Lots of cutting ensued, as my room divider design wasn't exactly simple. I helped boyfriend out as much as possible while also cleaning and arranging and figuring out what to do with the picture board. We decided that we could crop the pictures more and get them printed again and that would make the overall picture bigger. So once that was done, I set out to make the actual pin-up board, utilizing a random piece of plywood, seeing as how I had a ton of it I wasn't using anymore. The final photo board turned out fantastic and was probably one of my favorite projects, despite it being such a last-minute thing. The lampshade was also my responsibility, as it needed to be sanded, covered in spackle, sanded again, and spray painted. At 4 am, we couldn't really think straight, despite the fact the apartment was still a mess, as seen in the pictures below. The screen / light box was essentially completed, with a few modifications and the light box part of it wasn't up and running, but it was good enough for the pictures, at least. A couple of hours of sleep and we were back up at 6:30 am to finish up cleaning and putting everything in place. Amazingly enough, it all came together and looked great for the pictures, although, I'm not going to lie, my bathtub was full of stuff I didn't want in the pictures, such as my dying red maple tree and exercise ball.

The pictures should be up on Apartment Therapy on December 4, but I will for sure let you all know when it is.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Word of the Day / Question of the Day

So I know it's a little unconventional to incorporate two elements in one post, but it works, as long as there is a theme. The theme here is hair, a much-beloved topic in Lauraland.

Word of the Day:

We'll start with the word of the day (number 2) - bouffant. It's just such a great word, and it quite accurately describes my current hair situation. I first learned this word from my Aunt Renee, back when I was about 6 and first experimenting with bouffanting hair-dos. If I think of it when I get home, I'm totally going to dig through my photo albums and post the picture that I am currently thinking of.

Anyways, back to the present. Most people who know me well know that my hair changes on a monthly, or bi-monthly basis, so it's quite extraordinary that it's remained the same for like 5 months or so now. Crazy, I know. My roots are getting bad as it has been the same color for way too long, and my hair is in the crazy "I don't want to be straight, I don't want to be wavy, I don't want to behave no matter what you do to me" stage. Frustrating to say the least. But at the same time, I'm hesitant to do anything, seeing as how I'm setting records on how long I can leave my hair alone, and who knows, maybe I can actually achieve long hair in the not so distant future. Needless to say though, pigtails have become a staple hair-do, and I don't know quite how well that fits into my professional persona. I've also gone back full-force to my habit of twirling sections of my hair while I'm thinking, so by the end of the day I end up with about 40 mini-dreads sticking out in weird directions. Not the most attractive. So this leads me to the question of the day.

Question of the Day:

What in the world should I do with my hair? I'm even considering going back to the perm route, even though it qualifies me for becoming a cast member of Golden Girls. I always liked my hair curly, and I don't care what I have to do to get there. :)
For the sake of posterity, and the fact that I see most of my readers maybe twice a year, here is what my hair looks like today:

Feel free to chime in and offer suggestions!

The Mustache of Justice

Ah, the news that gets reported in D.C....where every element of political life is thoroughly analyzed, right down to facial hair. The Washington Post reports on the rise of the mustache in government, due to Obama's staff. My personal favorite is Rep. Henry Waxman (the far right picture). The post says,

"The 'stache went totally A-list last week when Rep. Henry Waxman was elected the new chair of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. Waxman's short, military brush has terrified Capitol Hill for years and earned its own nickname -- "Mustache of Justice" -- with a line of magnets, mugs and buttons.

How powerful? Stephen Colbert teased D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton that she ranked below the 'House speaker, majority leader, congressional pages, tourists and Henry Waxman's mustache.'"

(Photo courtesy of The Washington Post)

And yes, I know I'm already slacking on the word of the day for yesterday (I'm allowed to take the weekends off though), so to make up for it there will be two words today. And yes, one of them is mustache.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Word of the Day

So I am going to continue the theme of commonly used words as the word of today. I was typing an email and I completely blanked on how to spell color. Seriously, I tried coler, coller, colur, and eventually figured out how to spell it. I have no idea where that came from. So today's word of the day is color, or as our friends to the north (and any other English-speaking country) like to spell it, colour.

Funny story about the u. One of my favorite authors is Jasper Fforde, who writes the amazing Thursday Next series. Without getting into a long, drawn-out explanation, let it suffice to say it's a somewhat science-fictiony thing, where the main character is able to jump into books and is a police officer of sorts in the book world. So in this series, there is a text sea, where all the letters that form all the words in books come from. There happened to be a shortage of Us at one point in the series, so they decided to drop the U in certain words, such as colour, flavour, etc, and call it a regional anomaly.

Retouching Photos - or as I like to call it, Magic

So I am a strong supporter of Picasa for all of my photo editing needs, which I generally don't do a ton of, but I like to play every now and then. So the newest version of Picasa has this awesome retouch tool, which is a really user-friendly airbrushing technique. The first time I used it though, I was trying to remove a blemish from my face and ended up just putting it somewhere else on my face, because I had the sequence backwards. But once you get the hang of it, it's quite nice.

Yesterday I thought I would experiment with my apartment by removing items without actually having to remove them, and it proved quite effective. Granted, there are some fuzzy areas, and it doesn't work quite as well as removing blemishes, but I'm impressed with myself. I removed 9 items, whoever can find them all first wins my enduring affection.

DC Apt No 2-3

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I'm a Transportation Geek, I know...

But I do have an excuse. It is what I do for a living, after all. But anyways, I stumbled across an old Op Ed piece from the New York Times that just made my day today, which was all about the author's two sons' love affair with the subway. They are 3 and 5 and know way more than anyone I've ever talked to about the New York subway system. I'm usually lucky enough to have a native New Yorker as a guide when I go on the subway, otherwise I don't think I would ever come out.

The original thing that sent me to the NYT was, surprise, surprise, an Apartment Therapy post, about an amazing bathroom tile job which was pretty much the entire subway map. Somehow I don't think my landlord would be thrilled if I put the metro map in my bathroom, but it's tempting...

Word of the Day

So I was reading this morning on the metro, and I came across the word vacuum, and it made me very happy. So I've decided to start a new feature of my blog, word of the day. Obviously vacuum is not an uncommon word and I'm not going to make up a sentence to use it in, but I am just going to spend 2 minutes enjoying the double u sound - uuuum.

To make this a bit more literary, I will include another word that is a bit more unused, that we discovered last night in community group - boanthropy. This is the disease in which humans think they are cows. For example, Nebachanezer suffered from boanthropy. On a related note, apparently there is also a disease in which people honestly believe they are werewolves - lycanthropy. The things you learn in a Bible study....

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Take a Bite Out of Crime

Yes, I know, this has nothing to do with teeth or crime, but the spiky things kinda remind me of teeth, so give me a little poetic license.



Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Death Berries

This post has two purposes:

1) To showcase some of the beautiful ginkgo trees that are all over DC.

They really are quite lovely. Last weekend, boyfriend and I were walking down his street and the sunlight and beautiful blue sky made a gorgeous composition, but my hands were full of bags and I couldn't get out my camera. Unfortunately, when we left his house, the sun had gone away, so this is the best I could do. So that takes care of purpose number one.

2) To profess my hatred for them.

Hatred may be a tad too strong, but let me just tell you, I don't visit boyfriend nearly as often in the fall. Because you see, apparently whoever decided that ginkgo trees would make a lovely choice to line the streets of DC however many years ago didn't know a whole lot about plant biology. I don't either, so I can't be too picky, but you think you would research your tree choices before mass plantings. Male ginkgos are wonderful and have no problems at all. Unfortunately, about half of the trees in DC are female ginkgos. They produce these wonderful little seed/berry things, which, bluntly speaking, smell like vomit. Especially when they are all over the sidewalk and get smushed into the sidewalk, and it's impossible to avoid stepping on them. Let's just say, my shoes need a good scrubbing after walking down boyfriend's street.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Absolut New York

So I am an obsessive compulsive furniture rearranger, as boyfriend will tell you, and I always have a floor plan of my apartment laying around somewhere so I can experiment. Because of this, I was excited to see this post on Apartment Therapy today about apartments photographed from above (warning: there is some nudity in the post, so don't be shocked, Mom). In the comments someone mentioned the billboard below:

I totally have a picture of this billboard in my photo album from the first time I went to New York in 2001! I loved it then, and I love it still.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I'm Inspired...

So I normally don't just link to other blogs, but I just love, love, love this skirt, from the Sartorialist. We'll see what boyfriend has to say about it. :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fall Fabulousness

Two weekends ago, 3CC had our retreat out by Great Falls. I don't get much of a chance to get out of the city, so it was wonderful, and of course being outside in the fall is one my favorite things. It was also amazing to see the Potomac in a pure and unadulturated state. It looked like a completely different river than that which someday may hold my houseboat.

I accidentally had my camera set to digital macro, but I really liked the way it turned out.

The more boring view of the river.

Is it the republicans turn in the zoo?

So it's a week after the election, so I will finally get around to posting about it. The district popular vote ended up being 93% for Obama, glad to see that my vote really counted. (I've been waiting for a chance to bring out the teal - if anyone besides Andrew gets it, you get a cookie.) Anyways, everyday I pass by the Washington Post building, and there is a donkey and an elephant out front. The elephant is painted with various governmental buildings and the donkey is painted with pandas. I've never understood this. My personal theory is that it is because the president was a republican and therefore had control of the government, and the democrats are therefore either left in the wild or penned up in the zoo. I'm curious to see if they will repaint them in January...I'll keep you informed of any happenings.

In other political news (as political as it gets for me, at least), they are already preparing for the inaugaration. I walked past the White House this weekend and there are like 8 trailers out front and they are building the stage. It seriously takes 3 months? Come on, people, I know you're government workers, but I expect better than that.

Happy Veteran's Day

I have a bone to pick with Metro though, in regards to Veteran's Day. I understand that anyone vaguely governmentally related will have the day off, which is a large portion of DC, but the rest of America still has to go to work. So why in the world are they running on a Saturday schedule??? I'm annoyed.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hasn't it been too long since I've posted pictures of flowers?

I was going through my photos, yet once again avoiding trying to get my Botswana pictures in some semblance of order, and I came across these pictures. Way back when boyfriend was just boy number 5, last summer, an orchid arrived for me at the office. It had no card, and I had no idea who it was from, seeing as boy number 5 was number 5 for a reason. And I couldn't find out because he had just left for Africa for 3 weeks. I eventually found out it was indeed him who had sent the plant, and our love bloomed just like the orchid. Oh my, I think corny doesn't suit me. I take it all back. Anyways, I did find it to be a good subject for my digital macro.

Addendum: Boyfriend thinks it's necessary for me to mention that I have since killed the orchid.

And my favorite of reminds me of a tongue.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Zoom, Zoom

Today on my way to the metro, I saw my dream car. It was a Porsche 911 Turbo, somewhere around the 1997 body style. I swooned a bit. And then I came to my senses and realized that I will never be able to own one myself, and I have to be content with my model sitting on my shelf at work. Ah, the dangers of having all guy friends who are mechanical engineers...I had to learn about cars as a defense mechanism, just so I could be part of the conversation. Apparently it's still haunting me.

House Tour

I was browsing Apartment Therapy today, and I came across this post, which is a tour of a girl's first apartment in Adams Morgan. I was curious as to how my own first apartment in Adams Morgan would hold up.

The Kitchen
The Kitchen View 2 - Not quite as attractive, but functional
The Kitchen - I loved my little table - The chairs are actually really cool diner chairs, but they have reddish-orange vinyl seats and backs, so I had to make slipcovers for them so they would match the table.
The Bed - This wasn't taken at the same time as the rest of the photos, but I don't have a picture of the bed. This is the platform bed that I had custom built - once again, thanks to boyfriend - because my antique massive bed didn't quite work with all the windows and doors in the apartment. Unfortunately, I don't have a massive walk-in closet in my new apartment to store the other bed, so I had to sell the platform bed when I moved.
The Entrance - not very auspicious, but it works. The green chair is another slip-covering job of mine, as it was formerly fuzzy and orange. The green boxes under the bed were awesome for storage in a tiny apartment.
The Living Room - Despite the fact my bed was in the middle of it, it worked well.
Living Room - The white pumpkins on the coffee table are imported from Michigan - courtesy of Mom. My loveseat was my favorite part of the apartment, as it was my pseudo-chesterfield, my dream couch.
Living Room - The console table was my Great-grandmother's and represents a project which is still underway. It's mostly stripped, but I haven't gotten around to finishing cleaning it up and re-staining it. The keyboard is also an over-ambitious project. I thought it would motivate me to put my 10 years of lessons to good use, but rather it's just a not so good use of the console table.
The Bathroom - Small, but light and airy. Oh how I miss you, gloriously light and not pink bathroom. My new bathroom is like 3 times the size, but completely covered in pink tile and pink fixtures, not so cool.
My Balcony - A tiny retreat, which would have been so much better if it weren't cut in half by a chimney. Oh, and also if it weren't the way stupid robbers were able to break into my apartment (reason I moved out of the apartment).
The View - The back alleys of Adams Morgan aren't particularly inspiring, but it wasn't bad.

So there you have it - my first real apartment after college. I think I did a pretty good job, although I do have to admit, these pictures were taken after I had lived there for a while. I left out the first set on purpose. The apartment itself helped, as it had character in tall ceilings, beautiful wood floors and lots of light. Whenever I get nostalgic for the character though, boyfriend has to remind me of the cockroaches and robbers, but I will always love my first apartment.

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