Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A great find...

As you might remember, the colors of my kitchen are turquoise and red. I selected that color scheme in the summer of 2006, before I moved into the shoebox apartment I lived in during grad school. Trust me, at that time, those colors were not very popular, and especially not together. I did not let this get me down! At the time, Target wasn't selling anything red. I don't know what their problem was, but it just meant I had to get kitchen textiles at Wal-Mart. Turquoise was also on the outs, so I wound up with lots of things that are really just light blue, not actually turquoise. It was also this phenomenon that led me to get the Japan poster - the only piece of art I could find that featured red and light blue together - before I had any interest in learning Japanese or traveling to Japan.

Here's the rug I've had in my kitchen:
 Of course, there's nothing wrong with it. It has certainly cushioned my feet during some mega dishwashing sessions. But still: looks like something that belongs in a garage. (This is why, even though I took about a dozen pictures of my kitchen for the First Draft project, none of them include this rug.)

Imagine my surprise when, during my last regular weekly grocery trip to Target, I paused to look at the advertisement on display in the vestibule. What did I see? THIS!
WOW! And it was on sale for $10! YES! (I'm very sorry about this picture - I think it is an internet issue because there is no woodgrain or zebra coloring on the rug. The pic isn't like this on my computer, so I have no idea what's causing it.)

And here it is, happily at home:

Monday, October 29, 2012

The 19th Wife

Many months ago, this book, by David Ebershoff, was recommended to me as a good possibility for my book club. Unfortunately, it's a little bit long and difficult to get at the library, so it hasn't made the cut - yet. I requested a digital copy which finally came! Hooray!

As the name probably suggests, this is a book about Mormons who practice polygamy. As it was first explained to me, this is the story of Ann Eliza Young, a real person who was the 19th wife of Brigham Young, one of the early leaders of the Church of Latter Day Saints. Ann Eliza Young's story is unique because she abandoned her marriage to Brigham Young and began traveling our country as an advocate against polygamy. She actually wrote a book called "The 19th Wife" shortly after leaving Brigham's household.

David Ebershoff's book, however, is a fictional take on Ann Eliza's book. He retells her story, including lots of details about her childhood and her parents, to explain why she was unhappy in a plural marriage. In addition, there is another story in this book: a young man named Jordan is the protagonist in a tale set in current day. Jordan is a 20-something young man who has been expelled from an invented sect of Mormonism where polygamy is still practiced. Jordan returns to Utah from his new life in California when he discovers that his mother has been charged with his father's murder. He then attempts to prove his mother's innocence. At first, the only apparent connection between Jordan's mother and Ann Eliza Young is that they both were Wife number 19. However, these two stories wind together to paint a picture of polygamy, Mormonism, and life in Utah over the course of the last 150 years.

I would highly recommend this book. It was longer than I had anticipated, and it took me quite some time to get through it. I thought that the "two narrators" approach kept the plot moving. I had expected before starting this book that I would identify with Ann Eliza Young. I suppose I did, given that she was a young woman attempting to take control of her life. However, I identified much more strongly with Jordan and was ultimately much more intrigued by his story than by Ann Eliza's.  While I might have been interested enough to read a book that was just about Jordan, the story from Ann Eliza's time adds some important context. The historical portion describes quite a bit about why polygamy became popular in the first place and what the early experience of it was like. Knowing more about this helps the reader understand, maybe even before Jordan himself, exactly what he has to figure out to determine whether his mother is actually innocent. Since I love history, and mystery, I really enjoyed this book!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mixtape #4

Once again, I've made a mix CD and I thought I'd share the track listing with you. As always seems to happen, I hear a song I like on the radio, then write down the name, and start collecting names until I have a huge list. Then, I go on an Amazon MP3 binge and this is the result! While not all of these songs are new to my collection, I made a great, fresh mix that's been keeping me company in the car this week. If you don't recognize one of these songs, just click on the song name to be transported to a YouTube video!

1. I Can Only Imagine by David Guetta, featuring Chris Brown and Li'l Wayne
2. Bulletproof by LaRoux
3. Trouble with Boys by Loreta
4. Vegas Girl by Conor Maynard
5. Live While We're Young by One Direction
6. Numb by Usher
7. Take Control by Amerie
8. Cry For You by September (Jackal Remix)
9. Want U Back by Cher Lloyd
10. Locked Out of Heaven by Bruno Mars
11. Like Boom by Vita Chambers
12. Finally Found You by Enrique Iglesias
13. Gotta Work by Amerie
14. Pound the Alarm by Nicki Minaj
15. Now or Never by Outasight
16. The Get Go by Vita Chambers
17. Feel Again by Onerepublic
18. Moves Like Jagger by Maroon 5
19. Blow by Ke$ha

Hope you enjoy! 

FD: Hall Bath

One of the smallest rooms on the tour of my tree house apartment is the hall bathroom. Here it is in its (tiny) glory!
 Here's the view from the hallway. The shower curtain definitely makes the room.
 This is a view of the vanity area. It looks a little less overwhelmingly white in person...

 Here's a close-up of most of the art in the room. It's too bad you can't see it very well with the glare from the light, but I can tell you that the art is all themed around my time at summer camp.
And from here you can see the hallway and into the last room on the tour - the master bedroom, which will be up next week!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Actions speak louder...

Well, I'm back after a brief hiatus. I don't have a particularly dramatic reason for my break from blogging during most of last week. It was a combination of not having projects in the pipeline, pushing myself really hard at work so I could get caught up, trying not to go crazy and get sick, and technological difficulties. Last week was a bit of a turning point for me with respect to how I think about my blog. As much as I've enjoyed doing it over the last several months, I need to slow down. The challenges mentioned above are probably going to become more severe over the next several weeks, as I finish preparing for surgery and then recover from it (during the Christmas season, no less) and then get back to work in late December. My goal until mid-November is going to be a few posts (2-3) per week, which will probably be followed by a substantial break lasting through the holidays. I hope to pick things up in early 2013 and get back to my regular schedule, but it's early to be making promises like that.

This is a good opportunity to thank all of you readers for reading! I never would have continued on this adventure for so long without knowing you're out there. I am so lucky that you've chosen to read my ramblings on this little corner of the internet, and I hope you'll stick around through the doldrums ahead. Thanks also to those of you who have been supporting me in countless tiny ways (and huge ways too!) as I've been dealing with these health issues. My friends are the best a girl could ask for!

******
The great news is that there is a real post buried in here somewhere! 

You might remember a project I did earlier this year where I made a piece of art for my living room. If you want to read more about that, click here. This is what it looks like hanging as part of my gallery wall in the living room: 
It had always been my vision for this project that there would be something around the edge. I was kind of hoping for bling reminiscent of a theater marquee. It took my a while to find the right supplies, and then even longer to actually apply them, but this project is now totally done. What do you think? Do actions speak louder than... bling? 
I'm not sure about the answer! What I can tell you, though, is a little bit more about how I added this bling effect. 

Here are my supplies: 
I found these rhinestones in the aisles adjacent to the jewelry supplies at JoAnn's. I was initially thinking I would use some kind of sticky rhinestones, so I shopped the scrapbooking supply departments at every place I could think of and never found anything quite like I was looking for. Finally, I ran across these while I was looking for some jewelry making supplies. The bad news is that they are not sticky on the back, but this tacky glue pen was just the right thing to get a teensy little bit of glue on the back.

The other tool I used was these angled tweezers. I have them as part of my jewelry-maker's tool kit, but they are great for working with rhinestones. If you're considering a project like this, definitely pick up a pair!

Given the otherwise-rustic character of this project, I decided I wasn't going to go nuts about measuring to make sure the rhinestones were perfectly evenly spaced. I don't regret that decision, but this method might not work when applying the stones to something more precise.
I spaced the stones by simply dividing each space in half. So, here we see a space that's not yet divided...
... and now that space has been split in half by a rhinestone.

I didn't know exactly how many would fit or how far apart they'd need to be spaced, so I started by making a first pass, and the canvas looked like this:


I counted up the spaces and then made sure I had at least that many rhinestones remaining. Luckily, I did! So, I finished up by placing one additional rhinestone centered in each space. And here's the finished product!

Yay for bling!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Unbroken


This month, my book club read the book Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. I enjoyed this book more than I’d expected to, so I thought I would share it with you!



This book is a biography of Louie Zamperini, who is quite a remarkable person. Louie is a talented runner and made headlines as an athlete while he was a young man, including a trip to the Olympic Games. Unfortunately, his career as a “miler” (runner whose event is the mile, apparently) was cut short by the outbreak of what came to be called World War II. Louie wound up volunteering for the service and joined the Army Air Force. The whole book is filled with his recollections and photos, so I don’t think it’s a spoiler to tell you that Louie survived the war. His story, though, is quite remarkable! 

Louie’s position in the service was that of bombardier, the term for one of the people on a large bomber airplane. As bombardier, he sat in the very front of the plane and was responsible for making decisions about where the bombs should be released. Louie typically flew on a plane called a B-24, which had a crew of about 10 men managing to fly the plane and get the bombs armed and ready to drop at the appropriate time, as well as gunners to fend off the enemy. The book includes harrowing descriptions of moments when the plane was attacked by heavy fire. Louie and his crew hung on even though the plane was destroyed. One fateful day, he and his crew were asked to fly a mission to search for any surviving crew members from another plane. Louie’s crew was assigned to a plane that didn’t appear to be up to the task, but they went anyways. It wasn’t long before Louie’s plane went down in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. 

Louie and two other crew members survived the crash and managed to recover some of the survival equipment that had been aboard the plane. Louie and his buddies floated in the Pacific Ocean for 43 days before they drifted ashore in the Marshall Islands. The soldiers survived their time on an inflatable raft by collecting rainwater in canvas funnels and by catching some birds to use as bait to fish. There were also sharks everywhere, who they managed to beat back with the raft’s oars. While arriving in the Marshall Islands meant the end of floating in the middle of nowhere, it also meant capture by the Japanese, who controlled that area. 

The book then details Louie’s years spend in Japanese custody at several different locations across the Pacific theater. Before I picked up this book, I knew it was the story of a soldier stranded at sea. What was most shocking, though, was the author’s perspective that Louie’s time in Japanese custody was much worse than the long days he spent floating across the Pacific. Can you imagine if your life were one where spending 43 days lost at sea with no supplies wasn’t the low point? I sure can’t. 

I highly recommend this book. It’s a long one, not for the faint of heart, but I was totally impressed with the author’s writing style. World War II is my “favorite” war – meaning the one I find most interesting – but I know very, very little about the battle in the Pacific. Never fear! Laura Hillenbrand does a masterful job giving you plenty, but not too many, details. I learned a ton about the battle in the Pacific, all wound together with a fascinating survival story. The book kept moving and somehow, even though I knew Louie would live to see the end of it, I was still in suspense as I read on toward the end. It was an inspiring story about determination and incredible fortitude. If you’re looking for a hero, look no further than Louie Zamperini. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sunday Sundaes

I usually spend Sundays with my parents - the people I'm referring to when I say I'm spending time with "my family." Recently, I had the chance to spend a Sunday evening with Harry, Ginny and their three little kiddos: Miss I, who is 5 years old and in Kindergarten, Mr. O who recently turned 3, and Miss M., who will turn 1 just before Christmas. One special tradition that they have in their family is called Sunday Sundaes, and its just as awesome as it sounds!

Here's my sundae glass... with Miss M.'s hand in the foreground...

 The tiny people are getting excited! It's almost as fun to watch them get excited as it is to actually eat the sundae. Almost.
 Here's my sundae: a little vanilla ice cream on the bottom, with lots and lots of mint chocolate chip on the top. Yum!
 Here's the finished product: it features hot fudge, marshmallow liquid topping, and sprinkles!

What did we do after enjoying some ice cream? We played Hungry Hungry Hippos!
This is actually a game I've never played before, but I LOVED it! First of all, it's fun to just keep smacking the lever on the hippo's back over and over and over again. (In our group, this was accompanied by lots and lots of yelling, which made it even more fun). And, more importantly, it's not the kind of game you can really develop "skill" at. So, usually Little Mr. O, the youngest player in the game, prevailed or came close. The adults didn't have to let him win, and that made it more fun for everyone. We all tried our best, and both of the kids did really well! Do you like these action shots?
 Yep, these tiny people kicked butt with the hippos! It was a great Sunday night enjoying another family's traditions! Looking forward to doing it again!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Gone Girl

Recently, my number came up on the wait list for this book at the library! Score! I checked out an electronic copy and just finished reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

I decided to request this book in the first place because I read a few different pieces of critical acclaim for it in the media. As will be true with this little review also, critics of this book tend to give very few details because the book is totally plot-driven and is intended to be suspenseful. I'm not going to ruin the experience for those of you who might be interested in reading it. But, I'll have to say I can't recommend this book.

Let's start with the good: the writing is clear and describes events and places in an interesting way. The book is set in a fictional town just north of Hannibal, Missouri. My parents are both from St. Louis and during our yearly trips to visit, we always drove through this part of the state. I thought her descriptions of the landscape and the demographics were spot on and really enjoyed imagining this story taking place there. The format of the book was also very cool, with chapters alternating between narrators. The chapters also shift among different points in time: at the beginning, the husband narrates the moments after he discovers his wife is missing, which is mixed together with excerpts from the wife's diary spanning the entirety of their relationship. I'm impressed that the author chose to use this style and I think this helped the story move along at a good pace.

The bad? Well, while the book is constructed to be a page-turner, I had difficulty getting engaged with the story because I HATED both of the main characters so much! ARGH! There were times when I tried to determine which one I hated more, but I really couldn't. They were equivalently unsympathetic. The relationship of the husband and wife with one another is ugly from the beginning, and I felt like it just got uglier the more I read. Not being married, I suppose I don't know how accurately this portrays marriage, but it was certainly not an advertisement! I wouldn't say I was looking for Chick Lit when I picked up this book, but I didn't relate to either of the main characters at all. I felt alternately sorry for them and disgusted by them.

I had also heard this book characterized as a "mystery" before I read it, and I think that description was a little bit unfair. While there are certainly elements that are unknown at the beginning and discovered by the end, this book didn't have much in common with other mysteries. Usually, a mystery story is told from the perspective of the person attempting to solve the mystery, usually a police officer, an FBI agent, or a particularly intrepid lawyer (in those Grisham books I always seem to have lying around). This person is seeking out information, synthesizing it, and then moving forward. In this book, the police officers were sort of peripheral characters. To the extent either of the spouses were attempting to discover more, their efforts to do so weren't intelligent or creative, like you would probably expect from a mystery. I would say this book is more about planning a conspiracy than it is about solving a mystery. While a story about laying a trap can be fascinating - like Ocean's 11 for example - it seems to me that it works best when you're rooting for the conspirators to get away with it! For me, that didn't happen here. For these reasons, I just can't recommend this book.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

FD: Study

Next up on the tour of the treehouse apartment: the study! One of the most important features I was looking for when I moved out of my grad school apartment was a space like this: a place to keep my computer, my books, and craft supplies so that they could be organized, neat and out of the way. My study has definitely done this job!
I could have chosen a different apartment in this same building that had a larger second bedroom, and having that extra space probably would have been nice. Here's the view from the hallway:
 This room is definitely pretty busy - and practically overflowing with craft supplies!

 Here is a view of the closet - the doors, anyway. The closet itself is filled with stuff! Sometimes I let myself believe that all those baskets of craft supplies are well organized. Seeing them in pictures, though, reminds me that they only appear organized to me. To anyone else, it's a jumble!

 Here are my bookcases, as well as a view back towards the door and hallway. This is where I keep all of my extra bags and purses.
 And here's a shot of the other bookcase, printer and file cabinet. Another area that feels more organized than it looks...
And finally, a close-up on the desk, which is more of the same theme. I'm comfortable working at the desk - which used to be the dining room table in my first apartment - but it looks pretty messy. I certainly use this room as a pressure valve to keep the other rooms in better shape. But, looking at these photos reminds me of how easily that can turn into a big mess. Hopefully my goal in the New Year can be to shape it up in here!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My life is made of awesome

It's true!
Do you know what this is? It's called the Skid Loader and is a bouncy castle in the form of a piece of construction! Ginny and Harry's son, Mr. O, is just about to turn 3. The Skid Loader made an appearance at his birthday party last weekend. It was a huge hit with the kids - and the adults!

After the lunch was eaten, the cake was cut and the presents were opened, the action at the bouncy castle had died down. With Magnolia and Daisy, I decided it was time for us to make our move. We stole out to the backyard and climbed in, even though we're taller and heavier than the recommended guidelines.

First, we jumped. Or, more accurately, tried to jump. I have no recollection of whether it was difficult to successfully jump in a bounce house when I was little, but it sure is difficult now. It requires more effort than I was expecting to actually jump high enough to get my feet off the ground (which I know they aren't in this picture). That, coupled with trying not to fall over or crash into anyone else, made it pretty difficult. When you add on top of all of this the fact that I was laughing so hard I could barely breathe, this was definitely the best workout I've had in a while!

Once the jumping was just too much, we collapsed to the ground and stayed there!

This was the view of a perfectly clear, slightly chilly jump weather:
I know it might be hard to tell from these pictures, but it was really a perfect afternoon! I suppose having three grown women in a bounce house is not the kind of activity that lends itself to easy photographic recording. But, it was still the most fun I've had in a while. My life is definitely made of awesome!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Revenge

One exciting thing about the coming of fall is that new seasons of our favorite TV shows are on in new episodes! Sweet! One hidden gem, though, about these new seasons is that there are new-to-Netflix old seasons available for streaming. Hooray!

One show that I was especially excited to see had joined the Netflix lineup is Revenge, on ABC. Last season, this show aired on Wednesday evenings and I could never watch it. This season, it will be airing on Sunday evenings, another time I can't really watch it. But, luckily, I was able to get caught up with the entire first season on Netflix!


I won't go into too many details about this show because it's totally plot driven and I don't want to ruin the surprise. But, I will say, YOU SHOULD WATCH IT! The main character, Emily, returns to her childhood home to seek revenge against those who had her father wrongfully imprisoned for a terrorist act he did not commit. The show is like an awesome combination of Gossip Girl, CSI, and Sex and the City. There are some funny moments and lots of suspenseful ones. There are also beautiful clothes and scenery and all of the other stories that go along with people living a life of privilege.

At first, I worried that this show was going to be too much like Damages, another great show, which I enjoy but sometimes have difficulty following. On Damages, the plot is so intricate and moves so quickly that I often won't even watch it while knitting for fear of missing something important. The nice thing about Revenge is that it moves a little bit slower - for me, the perfect speed. I can follow the twists and turns even if I do take my eyes away from the screen every once in a while. Highly recommend it!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Broccoli Cheese Quiche

I love quiche! I'm very lucky that I come from a family where everyone else loves quiche too. Apparently, when I was a little kid, my mom and grandma went to the library and researched how to make a really good quiche! About a year ago, I hosted a brunch where I made quiche as the main course. Luckily, my mom shared her recipe with me and taught me her best tips and tricks. Now, I'm going to share it with you!

Ingredients:
Pie Crust
Broccoli
1 small Onion (optional)
1 cup cheddar cheese
3 extra large eggs (or 5 large eggs)
Half and Half
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
pinch of nutmeg


Every time I make quiche, I use a pre-made pie crust. To me, it's just not worth the extra time and energy (and mess! ack!) it would take to make my own. I buy the kind that are already pressed into the foil pan and in the freezer section at the grocery store, though you certainly could make your own!
The recipe calls for "enough broccoli to cover the bottom." I just cut the broccoli into small pieces and tossed them in until I was satisfied. There's plenty of room in this crust because I bought the "deep dish" kind. It was probably a little on the big side, but that was an insurance policy against winding up with egg mixture all over the place. (Another important insurance policy is the cookie sheet, which was under the pie pan while I was preparing and cooking the quiche.) I covered the broccoli with the 1 cup of shredded cheese.

I decided not to include onion this time. I couldn't buy just one small onion at the grocery store and I really didn't want a whole bag. Also, to me, the only part of this entire recipe that's difficult at all is the chopping of the onion. I buy fresh broccoli that's already cut up, so I just have to make it a little smaller. With pre-made pie crusts and shredded cheese, this whole thing comes together in a snap!

Next, I mixed up the eggs. The only piece of equipment you really need to make this quiche is a 2 cup measuring pitcher. You crack and beat the eggs right in the pitcher to make sure you get the right amount of liquid. I started with 3 eggs because that's what my mom's recipe calls for. I added the spices and whipped them up!
Oh wow - even though this photo makes it hard to see, you can probably tell that the total liquid isn't 1.5 cups, and that's what it has to be! So, the idea is that you add a combo of eggs and half and half to get it to that level. The rule is that you can add 2-3 tablespoons or a little more in cream. If you need more than that, you need another egg!

 To get to this level, I ultimately used 5 eggs and plenty of half and half. At one point, I attempted to measure the half and half, as is evidenced by the measuring spoon in the photo above, but I later realized this was futile. I added plenty of half-and-half (definitely more than 2-3 tablespoons) and made sure to beat it all together with the whisk.

 Then, all you do is pour it into the shell! Super easy! You can tell from the picture above that there's a little extra space in my shell, and the only bad part about that is how this makes the edge of the crust want to break off once its done.
The quiche bakes in a 375 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until a knife inserted an inch from the edge comes out clean. You should let the quiche stand for 10 minutes before serving. Yummy!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Paper Chain

Right now, I'm counting down the days until my surgery. Some people have wondered if I'm nervous about it. While I'm definitely stressed about getting all of the paper work done and having something go wrong in the meantime, I'm actually not worried about the surgery itself. I know it's going to hurt and I just learned this week that I'm going to wind up taking a month off work to recover. But, I know that my doctors are excellent and that once it's done, the aneurysm they're operating on will be permanently better.

With everything there is to get done before it happens, I've been telling myself (and other people) that the 7+ weeks from the date I found until until the date of the surgery are going to fly by. So far, that's only been partly true. I've been busy enough with work and getting things organized with the doctors that the last 10 days have gone quickly overall. But, there have definitely been some moments when I've said to myself, "How am I going to survive? 7 weeks is FOREVER!"

So, during a particularly dull moment at work earlier this week, I had an epiphany: I'll do what all anxious children do to mark the passage of time: make a paper chain!

 Love this: the supplies were all within easy reach. I had a couple of sheets of red paper to spice up what would have been an other-wise boring look.

 I made the chain on Monday, and I knew it needed to be 45 links long. I cut the right number of strips so that the chain would be that exact length. Each strip is a little wider than 1". My only recommendation, if you want to try this at home, is that you can use a narrower strip but it also needs to be shorter. My strips are all 8.5 inches long (the narrower dimension of the paper).

 You start the chain by making one strip into a circle. Here, I did that with the red loop on the bottom. For the second, and every following, loop, you'll stick a strip through flat...
 ... and then pick up the ends and tape them together. Simple!

 And it doesn't take long for the chain to grow. Here's my chain, all ready to help me mark off the days.

 I decided to hang the chain at the doorway to the kitchen. I used three small hooks and some left-over turquoise yarn to hang it up. I make sure the portions that hang down, rather than across, were basically even so that the chain can stay in this position as long as possible, even though I'll be removing one link each day.

 Here's a close-up of the corner. I found that using a small command hook and a bit of yarn worked pretty well to hang it up. I wrapped the yarn around one of the links, so there's plenty for it to grab onto. I also knotted it three times and so far it's been very secure!

One more glimpse. It makes the place look extra festive, doesn't it? You can see, if you compare this picture with those above, that I included the day I made the chain in my count of the number of days left. Originally, there were two red loops on the end by the refrigerator. But, I double checked my math before going to bed on Monday night and realized my mistake. I removed the extra red loop on Monday night and have been taking one loop each day ever since. And guess what? Now, it's only 6 weeks away!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

FD: Kitchen

The next stop on the First Draft tour of the Treehouse Apartment is the kitchen. Hooray! The kitchen is one of my favorite rooms in my apartment. Before I moved into my first apartment, during the summer between college graduation and starting graduate school, it was the first room for which I really had a vision. There was one day when I was out having lunch with my mom and all of the sudden it hit me: my kitchen would be turquoise and red. I hope you can see that vision in the pictures below!

Let's start with a glance at the floor plan:
A quick overview shows that the kitchen is just next to the dining room. It shares one wall with my across-the-hall neighbor, the other wall with the hallway in the apartment building, and the final wall with my living room.

 This is the view straight into the kitchen from the dining room. I selected the poster - with the red building and blue sky - advertising Japan long before I began studying Japanese. I also have some different examples of a painted letter C, which is my real first initial. Rachael Ray has them in her "kitchen" (the set for her show), or at least she used to!

 Here's a shot of the corner were the stove is. There's an odd little wooden soffit above the cabinets, which looks like it might be made out of white-painted plywood, that I just had to cover up with something.

 Here's a better view of the other side of the kitchen. Look at those icky brown cabinets - yikes! My dream kitchen features white cabinets, dark counters, and light blue walls which will make all of my awesome red and turquoise accents really pop.

 Here's a close-up of the artwork above the sink. I bought the Loteria cards that are now in the black frames while I was in Texas before I graduated from college. I love the colors. The blue triple frame on the bottom was actually a calendar that I picked up on clearance in early 2011, just a couple of weeks after moving into this apartment. Each of the cards has an image on one side and a calendar from a month in 2011 on the other. Since its 2012, I decided to just hang onto it as artwork!
 Here are some of the things that line the counter next to the sink. My grandmother always had a kitchen full of roosters, and while I wasn't sure I wanted that to be my style, I just couldn't pass them up when I found roosters that matched my decor. My mom made the cupcake pin cushion and the tin angel is a souvenir from a trip to San Diego where some friends got married several years ago.

 Here's another shot of the strange plywood soffit and my monogram collection. I made the sign that says Minnehaha, which is the name of the creek that runs just past my window. (The arrow is pointing the correct direction).
 Here's the stove with my full complement of candles illuminated. The spoon rest is actually a candle dish I scored at a Wal-Mart ages ago. I made the clock myself, which seemed like a good idea at the time. I'm not the greatest at measuring, and so, because the numbers aren't properly spaced, it's never kept very good time. I took the battery out and got a different clock, but I couldn't bear to part with this one.

 Yay! I love Mr. Man and Little Miss. I used to have this in my office while I was in graduate school, where I had a gigantic metal filing cabinet. These days, I have a plastic filing cabinet, so this hangs out at home. Today? I'm Little Miss Giggles!

 Here's a shot of the rest of this side of the kitchen. The place came with these cup holders I'm using for my mugs previously installed. It's a fun way to show them off!

Here's a view into the dining room, which you saw more about last week.
 I decided to shoot this same photo both from a low perspective...
and a higher one. I'm not sure which I like best, but I expect I'll be featuring something from this vantage point in my "Small Cool" submission. One plus about this bottom option is that it shows off my other rooster - blue with white polka dots - on top of the refrigerator, just beyond the microwave.

Thanks for checking out the kitchen. Stay tuned for the study next week!