Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bon Jovi at Philips Arena

I'm not the biggest Bon Jovi fan out there, but I enjoy some 80s and 90s rock every now and then.  When some tickets showed up at work and nobody else took them, I jumped on them and invited 3 ladies I knew would have a great time with me.

Jon Bon Jovi turns 51 on Saturday, March 2.  The man still puts on an amazing show.  He dances and runs around the stage the entire set.  I'm not sure I could keep up that enthusiasm for two hours and I'm 20 years younger than he is.

I'm not one for pictures during a concert because I'd much rather enjoy the show than spend time fumbling with my camera so I don't have any shots of them in action.  Here is the set list, pretty long - 26 songs!

Source: Robb D. Cohen/ via
About one minute into I'll Be There for You something crazy happened with the speakers and everyone stopped playing.  Richie even ducked and joked that it sounded like they were being shot at.  Being the professionals that they are they picked up at the first verse as if nothing happened.  After the song ended Jon said, "At least now you know we aren't using a tape."  I have no idea what the noise could have been.  Keep on rocking Jon.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Learning to Sew - Step 1

One of the things I'm sad that I don't know how to do yet is sew.  My mom is a great seamstress and she always told us stories about how she would make her own clothes.  Stephen's grandma could make anything with a sewing machine.  Stephen has an overcoat made by his grandma, Goose has a jacket, we have a soft sided cooler and so many other things around the house that she made for us.  It seems silly that I don't know how to sew.  And with how much DIY stuff I want to do around the house, I should be able to make my own curtains and pillows.  OH, and quilts!  My grandma was a quilter and I'd love to be able to make quilts for friends and family.

We put a sewing machine on our wedding registry and one of our great friends bought it for us (me).  It's been 6 months and I've finally cleared off space on the desk in the office so I could set it up.  Isn't it pretty!?!  It looks so small in the photo because of where I was standing, but it's normal sized.  That booklet in the photo is the size of a regular piece of paper.  Here is a link to the machine on Amazon.

Step One to learning to sew: I started reading the booklet on how to set it up and what all of the moving pieces do, but it's still a foreign language to me.  There are so many terms that I've never heard before, there will definitely be a learning curve.  Tonight I pan on figuring out how to actually load up the thread and hopefully see how the baby moves.  There are more than 30 stitches that it can do and it came with every needle and foot attachment that I could ever want.  And yes, it came with a quilting foot, so I'm set there.

Once I know I can sew a straight line and I've made some curtains and/or pillows, I want to try my hand at a quilt for a baby.  The couple who bought us the sewing machine is pregnant with their first baby and I'd love to make them a quilt with the gift they gave us.  We'll see if that happens.  I always think really far in advance...

There is a ton of fabric in the background of the photo.  I look pretty over zealous if I'd already gone out and purchased all of that stuff.  It was actually a gift from Stephen's grandma for Christmas.  She knew I wanted to learn to sew and wanted to teach me and her garage was full of cabinets of fabric.  I could take any that I wanted.  Just a few days after Christmas she passed away.  I never got got my lesson in sewing from Grandma, but knowing that all of that fabric is from her makes me think of her every time I see it.  And the stacks actually go up a few more rolls in each column.

I already have a board of projects and tutorials on Pinterest that I want to try soon.  I'll keep updating as I get better and better with my machine.  I may even take a class or two.  My mother-in-law is also a great seamstress and has offered to sit with me a few times to teach me a thing or two.  This could be the start of something beautiful.

Anyone else recently learn to sew?  What were your biggest challenges and how quickly were you able to pick it up?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Fencing in the Backyard

We finally did it!  The dogs can now play in the backyard without having to be on leashes.  It's only been up 3 days and it feels like a world of a difference.

Stephen and I have been talking about fencing in the yard for a while, even before we got Goose.  Then it became, "We won't get another dog until we fence in the yard."  Obviously that didn't pan out, we fell in love with Goose almost a year ago.  Then it was, "After the wedding we'll fence in the yard."  And then life got in the way.

We actually had a few contractors come out to give us some price quotes back in September, but one thing lead to another and then it was the crazy holidays and it never went up.  So here we are, February, and the fence is finally up.

The team from Allied Fence, who we found through The Home Depot, finished the job in one day.  (Probably would have been a bit faster had they brought the correct cedar wood, they brought pine and we had paid for cedar.)  We couldn't be happier with how it turned out.  You can't tell from the photo above but at one point we could see 7 houses from our back deck.  Not much privacy.  Now, we can see the rooftops of a few of those houses and some of them are completely blocked from view.

The dogs don't quite get that they can be out there without us yet, but they're getting it.  Stephen and I love to stand in the backyard and watch them run around.  It's freedom and space that we were able to give to them and they're paying us back with big, tongue out of their mouths smiles.  Goose even learned to play fetch with a stick.  He's only had balls and ropes.  It is adorable to see him learn something new.  He's so proud when he gets the stick from Mabel.

Goose is worn out from running.  Mabel and Goose chase a ball.  Goose looks like he is peeing on the wall - he's actually jumping off the corner.  Mabel is running so fast she's blurry.  

You can see in these pictures that the backyard as a giant wall towards the back.  There is definitely room to go on top and up by the fence, and the dogs have loved exploring up there.  We've been tossing around the idea of adding some big planters back there.  There is lot of concrete up there, so I'm not sure much would grow in the ground anyway.

We'll also need to get some grass seed down.  We haven't really used the backyard because there wasn't a fence, now it's time to clean it up.  It's not a huge yard, but it's perfect for us.  And Mabel and Goose couldn't love it any more than they do.  (This morning Goose was hopping around the yard.  Acutally hopping.)

We've also talked about repainting that wall.  Any thoughts on colors?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

60 Stories for a 60th birthday

My dad is a very special man.  I'm 100% a Daddy's girl.  I'm not sure how that came to be, but I think it has always been.

Like most Irish Catholic men, my dad is a storyteller.  He loves to tell stories and is very good at it.  The more beer you get in him, the funnier and longer the stories become, too.  It's fantastic.

Dad is turning 60 today, Valentines's Day, and in my eyes, that's a big deal.  I didn't know exactly what to get him, I've purchased more than my share of golf balls and golf shirts, so I turned to Pinterest.  Not even really looking I came across a story about a daughter who had friends and family write down stories about her dad.  She wanted 60 stores to share with him on his 60th birthday.  For a man who enjoys a good story like my dad, this is perfect.  That post can be found here.

Two months before his birthday I reached out to all of Dad's siblings and immediate family.  I wanted to get 60 stores for my dad's 60th.  Through a lot of follow-up emails and hounding some people, I did it.  I got to 60!  (To be honest, if everyone had participated I would have cleared 100, easy, but I'm okay with reaching my goal.  I know people are busy.  Too busy to write a few sentences in an email...I'll stop)

As each one came in, some emailed, some hand written and mailed to me, I placed it in an envelope and numbered it.  Some letters came in with multiple stories, some were inside jokes that I'm sure only my dad will understand written on a notecard.  For letters that had more than one story on a page, I counted the stores in the letter and numbered accordingly.  I purchased plain envelopes at a Paper Affair and used stamps for the numbers.  I think using stamps vs. having numbers printed on the envelopes really makes a difference.  The stamps feel much more personal and because they aren't perfectly straight each time, there is a handmade quality about them.  In the end, I think I ended up with 28 envelopes with 60 stories.

I'm so excited.  I can't wait for him to sit down with a glass of wine or beer and be taken back to days throughout his lifetime.  I won't be able to be there with him when he opens his gift, but I'm looking forward to the phone call after.

Happy Birthday, Daddy.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Tartan Trot 10k

For the past few weeks I've been teaming up with fellow blogger/UF Grad/awesome person, Lisa, as we work towards our personal running goals.  Last month I set some goals for myself and I was worried about how I was going to stay motivated to reach them.  I want to get to a 10:00/mile for a 10k (a 5k first) and I want to run at least 10 miles each week for the full year.  I also set a goal to run one race a month.  Stephen doesn't share my love of races and finding time for both of us to run after work is hard so I was looking at doing a lot of this solo.

I joined a gym in December to stay in shape through the winter and to get a head start on my training for the Half Dome hike this summer.  It's been very helpful having a treadmill on these dark, cold winter nights after work.

I ran a 5k in January right by my house and posted a picture on Instagram.  Lisa did the same thing.  We soon realized that we had pretty similar running goals and I joined up with her and some of her friends who were already running together.  We're like our own little running club.  It's been great to have people to keep me motivated.  Even waking up at 8:30am on a Saturday to head to the park isn't too bad when you know you're meeting friends.

My first race, the February race, with Lisa and friends was the Tartan Trot in Dunwoody.  There was a 5k and a 10k.  Two of us ran the 5k and two of us ran the 10k.  We had a great time, even if it was 30 degrees at the start of the race.  It was so cold that after I took my phone out it's case to take a picture it stopped working because it was so cold.  I didn't have music or my pace keeper lady from my running app.

I ran the 10k and even with the crazy cold, the 2 awful hills and not having music or anyone telling me how fast I was running, I beat my previous 10k time by four minutes!  I finished the Tartan Trot in 1:05:17, that's a 10:32/mile pace.  Much better than the 11:00+/mile runs that I'd been running.

We have a 5k in March, right after my birthday and hopefully I'll be even closer to a 10:00/mile by that time.

We look like we're going for a run in the snow