Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bird is the word

Today Mark and Ryan took on the task of uprooting the bird of paradise plant that has plagued the front of our house for months. It may not seem so bad, but trust me, it was overgrown and just not the look we were going for. After a couple of failed attempts to get someone to come take it off of our hands on Craigslist, we'd had enough.

It took two men, shovels, a jackhammer-type tool, and a Scion equipped with a tow hook to get it out.

Before you think us horrible people for killing this plant, understand that these grow like weeds around here... and I'm not sorry...
Last bird standing...
Happy New Year!!!

Year in review

What a year it's been!!!

Mark and I have a huge sense of accomplishment with all that we've done this year. Here's a quick re-cap...

Our dear friends Allie, Ryan, and their daughter Danika are visiting us this week from Sacramento. Today, we will probably be able to add "...tore out overgrown bird of paradise," "...fixed master bath plumbing," and maaaaybe "...sledge hammered the $*&% out of smoker" to the list.

As for 2010, we have a lot in store, including all new energy efficient windows next month and a kitchen renovation post-tax return. Oh, to think! I seriously or shiriously cannot wait!

In the mean time, Happy New Year to all, and to all a good 2010!!!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Pup playdate

Today we had Booie, Adrienne, and Brian over for Lola's first at-home playdate. The dogs had such a blast together!!! It wasn't more than five minutes after Booie left that Lola passed out. Lola is so happy to have found a new bff!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Her name was Lola...

Scratch that, her name is Lola! The newest addition to Chez Braffe. She's part corgi, part terrier, and all love.
Mark and I have been talking about getting a dog for a little while, and went to a couple of adoption events yesterday. We found Lola at an adoption event that our friend Jana was volunteering at.

At first we didn't even think to get to know Lola, because we had been in search of a medium sized (30-50lbs) dog, and Lola probably comes in at about 20lbs when she's soaked... But Lola wasn't having that. She was the happiest dog in the bunch, and was hardly flustered when the German shepherd nearby started a ruckus with a cocker spaniel and had all the dogs around going bonkers. She just wagged her tail, and in that moment, we knew she was the dog for us.
We originally planned on waiting until we returned from Vegas (next Sunday) to bring a pup into our home, but knowing that Lola would be headed back to the shelter if she didn't come home with us, made us change our minds. Plus, we received a generous offer from one of the volunteers to watch her while we're gone.

We'll have to go through some training with her, because at 1-2yrs old (the shelter's estimate -they don't have much information on her, as she was brought in as a stray), she is unfamiliar with any commands. But she's a happy dog, loves people, other doggies, and life! -and we love her.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Quilty as charged

Ok. Wow. I will admit that one sounded way funnier/catchier in my head, but it's stickin'.

So last night I almost finished my first (baby) blanket. I just have to hand stitch one side closed. I was worried about getting the batting to lay flat if I didn't have the whole opening to work with, but after giving it a go, I think next time I'd be okay with half of a side open to get it in there flat. After I stitch it, I will get some colored embroidery thread and sew little knots in the corners of the squares. I'm really happy with the outcome so far. The entire blanket is about 3'x3', so not very big, and it's definitely not very neat, but my future niece isn't referred to as Neatbaby, now is she?! She'll surely appreciate the wildness of this one. I didn't use any pattern, just a square candle holder to cut out the squares and a blue fabric pencil...
I probably won't be completely finished with the blanket until the weekend or next week. This week I am immersed with MEND stuff. MEND is the largest food bank in the San Fernando Valley, and every year, my work teams up with them to adopt families in need, to give them a Christmas that they would otherwise not have the means to provide/enjoy. This week will be spent shopping, wrapping, (not rapping, yo), and coordinating the details with my coworkers to make this a holiday to remember for my department's adopted family.

For more information or to get involved with MEND, please check out their website. It's a fantastic organization that provides various programs and services year round.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Rain, rain, go away

Yeah, I know, Southern California really needs this rain, what with the whole draught and all -but on the weekend? Really??

Mark and I had grand plans to work on the stucco this weekend, which hasn't been touched since my dad's departure last month. You can't apply stucco in the rain... Aw shucks, guess we'll have to put it off again!

Instead, I think I will continue to sew this weekend. I have a couple projects in mind. First, of course, some more burpies for Tali. I also started experimenting on a baby blanket. *Chenille is 50% off at Joann's this weekend*

I also want to work on our living room a bit. I've been talking about it forever. We still want to paint a plum-ish accent wall and I'm itching to cover our console table. We have this marble top console table in our living room that sits just beneath the sole piece of art in there. It's actually pretty nice as is, but it *mysteriously * got scratched (read: keyed) all over, and the overall design doesn't work too well in the space. So here's my inspiration...
I saw this photo in my House Beautiful magazine this month, and I love the idea. I want something that's fitted, with clean lines, but that I can lift the flaps up to store things underneath. I also like the idea of a bar tray sitting on top with some bar tools on it. We could also use the beneath as storage for liquor if we get some sort of shelves under there. Hiding your booze in an unsuspecting spot is never a bad idea... As for the fabric, I'm not sure what would be best. We've already added the plum/burgundy shade and our couch is gold-ish. I think maybe a dark brown with a muted pattern of sorts could be nice... Maybe something like this fabric or this, if Mark agrees to something flower-like.

What do you think?

Happy Friday!!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Burping Cloths

At the fabric store yesterday, I found this great fabric that I thought matched the colors Tali was going for really well. I immediately snapped a photo and texted it to her. I didn't have the time/patience to wait for an answer, and seeing that it was on sale from $6.99/yd all the way down to $3.19, I bought what they had left -about 3.5 yards. I also bought some off-white striped chenille.
I cut out 2 rectangles of each fabric, measuring 9"x22". I then took a circular vase that has about a 5" diameter and centered it on the length of the rectangle, and half way in from the edge and traced a semi-circle. I did this on the other side as well.

I then pinned the chenille to the patterned fabric with the right sides facing in. I sewed around the perimeter, leaving a 2" opening, through which I reversed the fabric. I hand stitched the opening shut.

I'm all about winging it with these sorts of things. They're definitely not perfect, but for the fact that the sole purpose of these will be to collect spit up, I think they'll do...

Now just another 3 yards of that fabric to go...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Wine Bag

After sewing on 60 circle rosettes for my prototype pillow, I decided I could easily incorporate the rosettes into a winebag for the holiday party Mark and I will be attending next weekend.

This time I purchased felt sheets that measure 9"x12". They're less than 30 cents a pop and the entire project only took 3 of them and some elastic to make. I cut two of the sheets down to 6"x12" rectangles. I cut out six 3" circles from the third sheet.

For the bag, I stitched the two large rectangles together on the two 12" sides. I left about two inches unsewn at the bottom so I could attempt to figure out how to make the bottom. I couldn't decide if I wanted a rectangular gusset or to try to make it round. I compromised and cut out football shaped piece of felt from the remainder of the piece I cut the circles out of. I would probably do this a little differently next time...

I then folded the brim over (still insideout) and stitched all the way around about 3/4" down, leaving a 1" opening for me to thread the elastic through. I threaded it through and then hand stitched the opening shut.

For the rosette, I folded each circle in half and then half again, pinched the base and then hand stitched them all together, one at a time. I then affixed the big rosette to the wine bag.
This was a super easy project that I completed in less than an hour.

Friday, December 4, 2009

That's weird...

So I'm a self-professed sleep talker... I was unaware of this until my college roommate freshman year told me I spoke Hebrew or possibly gibberish in my sleep. On nights when Mark goes to bed after I'm already asleep, he's mentioned the next day that I mumble a whole bunch when he makes any noise. Of course I'm completely oblivious of this. Usually.

Well in the middle of the night last night, I decided to speak a little more coherently.

Here's how it went:

Me: That's weird
Mark wakes up from my announcement.
Mark: What's weird?
Me: Huh? sdkjhfks huh?
Mark: What's weird?
Me: Bed pans.

I then rolled over and immediately fell back asleep.

I explained my dream to him this morning. I was in a hospital room with a group of people, none of whom I knew, standing around an elderly man's bed. He was opening gifts. He unwrapped one to find a tie-dyed bedpan. Apparently, even in my sleep, I recognized how weird that was. Perhaps I've chanced upon my million dollar idea.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Then and Now - two years strong

Today is Mark and my second anniversary together. It feels like I've known Mark forever. I feel lucky to have found such a loving, caring, funny, delicious man to call my own.

Thanksgiving 2007

Thanksgiving 2009

May we have many more Thanksgivings together!!! (we celebrated 2008 together too, but I don't have any photos on hand)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wildbaby Crazy

We'll be leaving tomorrow morning, and by morning I mean 5am, for Arizona with Debbie and Joe. That's four full-sized adults, 2 dogs, and enough luggage for 5 days for all, crammed into a Prius. We made it work two years ago, so I can't imagine it will be much different this time around...

But for some reason packing this time seems way harder. I've set out to work on this project on the road. I cut out all 60 circles last night and plan to hand sew them in place in the car. We'll see how that works. This is really just a test run though. I want to make the real deal for future Wildbaby *who is now determined to be a GIRL!!!* with wool felt. Joann's wool felt selection is dismal, abysmal, really any 'mal you can think of... So I will be ordering the felt online. I want to make sure I can complete the project first before splurging on good fabric though.
I have been hounding Tali like crazy about the baby's name. She won't budge... Well correction, she would maybe, possibly, but not necessarily budge if I swore on my life, the baby's life, everyone I love's life that I wouldn't tell a soul... I just can't do that though. So tormented I shall remain... We have talked colors though. She has drawn inspiration from a blog called "Me and Wee." Not only do I love baby Paige's room, I find her mother/the blog's author to be really inspirational. I think the nursery is just fantastic. It's got the right amount of baby-ness to it, but is something any child could grow into. -And the doxie lamp!!!! I may be looking into this for a future present Tali, so if you find out you're getting it or have already gotten it, let me know!

I am trying to be not too much of an obnoxious-aunt-to-be, but it's hard! I'm a gazillion miles away, and I am just bouncy-excited-like-no-other for the Wildbaby to be born already!
But back to reality... I hope everyone has a fantastic Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday for reasons mentioned in the past. Tali confessed today that in my honor, she will abstain from making her amazing apple pie, and instead make apple cake. Although I shouldn't care, that made me feel really good. I'm not missing out -except everyone else is. Damnit. That's wrong.

This is just a taste of all the doggie lovin' we'll be getting on the road to AZ. We had a Thanksgiving themed Pilgrims & Indians girl's night at Debbie's this past Sat and it was the first time I'd seen Shebbie and Babu in ages...
Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Teach a man to fish

My dad will be leaving first thing in the morning tomorrow and it's truly hard to believe he was here less than a week. What's harder to believe is how much work was completed in that short time.

"Everything I set out to do today got done," was what I heard when I came home today. The base coat of stucco on the garage was completed. Mark and my dad installed trim on the french doors, switches were installed, the tub in the guest bath got its face plate, and hardware was installed in our bathroom... and that's just today.

It was such a great visit with my folks. We got a lot done and managed to have a great time throughout. Here are some photo highlights...

Mom was the cornhole master. She could sink a beanbag like nobody's business...

Testing out my chicken soup

Matzah balls!!!

Dad teaches Mark to lay stucco

The "after" from the photo below...

Mark and Dad install a new ceiling fan

The stopping point from last night
I haven't taken photos today to show more recent updates, but you can see, the work was all over the place, but very thorough. My dad even got stopped by a woman who was driving by and saw him doing the stucco today. She asked if he was taking on other jobs. *He's that good*
Anyhow, while I wasn't involved in the man-work this go-round, Mark "learned to fish." Mark was involved with all of the jobs and really what better way to learn?
Thanks mom and dad for a great long weekend and all of the help with the house!!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Peach Palace Gets a Makeover

What a weekend! Mark and my dad worked diligently yesterday to lay the first layer of stucco on our exterior. It looks so great! Mark also learned how to install a ceiling fan (which was done in our bedroom) -out with the old, ugly, bright brass and white fan, and in with the new, beautiful, silent, brushed nickel and espresso finish fan *with dimmer*.

All the while, I learned how to make chicken soup from scratch and eggplant dip with my mother. The feminist in me is in there somewhere cringing at the cliche 1950s-ness of all of this, but let me tell you, it was a blast. The men were hard at work, the women slaved over a hot stove, and both Mark and I learned some valuable lessons.

I will post photos of everything later, but what I have on hand right now is a photo Mark sent me of the progress of the exterior of our garage. If you recall, there was this hideous architectural element on the facade of our garage, that alternated combed stucco, textured glass that had been painted over, and wood that boarded up some of the broken glass. Say buh-bye. Mark and my dad are hard at work, laying plywood and mesh, and soon to be stucco, over this monstrosity of an eyesore. Once we paint our house, it will all blend in. Oh, I can't wait!!!

Here is how it looks right now...

Friday, November 13, 2009

That time of year

It's almost Thanksgiving time! There really is no better holiday if you ask me - a day that's all about gratitude, togetherness, and feasting on copious amounts of food.

This year, Mark and I will be driving to Arizona with Debbie and Joe to celebrate with the Singers. The same trip to Arizona was how Mark and I really got to know each other a couple of years ago, on what I consider our five day second date, so it will be fun to do again.

I love going back to Austin for Thanksgiving because the food is amazing and of course, it's home. Tali makes Martha Stewart's apple pie every year and it is just devine. I will miss the feast this year, but having just been back in Austin in October, and my folks being here this weekend, an expensive flight for Mark and I just didn't make sense.

But in the spirit of Thanksgiving cuisine and Martha, I thought I'd share a Martha cookbook that a coworker sent me yesterday. If you go to this link for Martha's Sirius radio show, you can download a copy of her Thanksgiving recipe cookbook for free! Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

If you already own it, it's practically free!

This mirror was Mark's before I ever met him. It was pretty as its former self (I apologize there are no befores). It was dark wood and crackled silver and just didn't fit in our current decor. Nothing a little white spraypaint couldn't fix. The mirror sits above our little desk/sewing table in our guest room. Mark and I compromised on the height. I wanted it to be vanity height so I could sit at the table and put on makeup. Mark wanted it much higher. So alas, it's all about compromise, right? I'm really happy with it! This project cost us a whopping $7 for a can of Rustoleum Universal in satin white. Pennies in the grand scheme of things... Two blog entries in one day? Dost my eyes deceive me?! Ok, that's all you get. Good night!

Where have I been?!

Apologies to you, blog, for this unwarranted (yet totally warranted) hiatus. No hard feelings?

So where to begin? Not much house work has taken place at Chez Braffe (or Jafflow, take your pick) as of late. Mark and I rallied this weekend to clean, paint our guest room door, and paint a mirror. We should have the door and mirror complete tonight, so photos will follow soon.

My parents are coming to visit this weekend, and I can hardly contain myself! They have only seen our home through the blog, and it definitely shows better in person if you ask me. They arrive on Friday evening, will stay with us Friday night, then drive up to Santa Barbara on Saturday morning for the day/night. On Sunday morning, they'll be back just in time for my dad to teach Mark (and I) how to re-facade the stucco on our exterior. My mom leaves early on Monday morning, but dad will stick around a couple of extra days to help us with some random projects around the house, which will hopefully include, replacing our kitchen window, installing a new ceiling fan, and fixing the socket in our master bathroom.

If you haven't figured it out already, my dad is super handy. And by super handy, I mean he can do practically anything -like Superman with a tool belt. He even built us new doors for our bathroom cabinets and shipped them to California. *I will be priming and painting them soon.

So back to where we've been... Mark turned the big dirty thirty last week! We decided to make a weekend out of it and went up to Boston, where he had never been before. We ate tons of chowdah, lobstah, drank lots of beeah (with an obligatory visit to the Sam Adams Brewery,) played in the leaves, hung out with old friends, and even went on the Ghosts and Gravestones tour, through the old cemeteries of Boston. Here are some photo highlights from our trip.
Mark playing in the leaves

Mark's birthday lobstah (stuffed)

Mark preparing to eat his birthday lobstah

at the Sam Adams Brewery

Enjoying some Boston Lagah

John Hancock's tomb (a little phallic, no?)

Paul Revere's more humble grave

Living it up with Jillian and Sean at the Black Rose

Enjoying the blustery weather
Hopefully I'll get another update in this week, but I don't want to risk any empty promises, as this week promises to be busy!

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Very Barry Weekend

This past weekend, Mark and I did something that is rare amongst those in our age range. No, we didn't get a colonoscopy, silly. We went and saw Barry Manilow at the Hollywood Bowl!

Now I know what you're thinking, and it really wasn't as cheesy as you'd expect. Okay, maybe it was extra-super-Velveeta cheese product-cheesy, but it was a super-fun time, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't sing along.

Allow me to back track a little and explain how this all happened. Back in 2008, Mark and I were at Spec's, a liquor and wine store in Austin, when Mark put his arm around a Barry Manilow cardboard cutout, and I snapped his picture. (Barry Manilow apparently has his own wine.)
Mark later explained to me that as a kid, he had gone to a Barry concert with his family, as his mother was a huge fan. He fell asleep before the concert was over, so his parents decided they should head home....before Copa Cabana! No!!! Well Mark's sister was justifiably perturbed about missing Copa, and come on, what young girl wouldn't be?

Fast forward to a couple of months ago when I saw that Barry Manilow was playing at the Hollywood Bowl, and cheap seats were available for a mere $9.95, (make that $19 with service charges -damn you Ticketmaster!). I thought it would make for a great evening of BYOW, (that's bring your own wine,) sing-along, cheesy fun.

We were in the furthest back section of the completely packed bowl, and were fortunate enough to sit in the loud, middle-aged woman section, otherwise known as section W2, although it's entirely possible that the loud middle-aged woman section was all of the Hollywood Bowl. The women behind us kindly shared Barry's history of writing commercials with us. Did you know that he wrote the "I am stuck on Band Aid brand" jingle? There was another big one they told us about too, but it's escaping me now. To our right, a woman insisted on yelling over and over that Mark "is a keeper!!!!" because he applauded and cheered after every song.

Anyhow, we had a great time, and we even stayed awake for Copa Cabana!

(you can't see anything, but let's be real, it's the audio that counts)

On our long walk back to the car, (we parked at Hollywood and Highland), we serendipitously ran into Patrick Gallagher, whom you probably know better as Coach Ken Tanaka from Glee. I have a feeling he was at the Barry show as well, probably singing his heart out and being labeled as a "keeper" in another section. I got giddy and whispered to Mark who he was and Mark told him I was a huge fan of the show. He was super friendly, even though I confessed that I'm embarrassed about how much I like the show. (Not a really nice thing to say, now that I'm sober and think about it.) He mentioned that there's some great/juicy/gossip-worthy things in the works coming up for the show and to stay tuned, but they're unfortunately on a three week hiatus thanks to baseball. Who watches both the World Series and Glee? There are surely more closet Glee fans out there like me, so probably a lot of people...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sew sue me.

Okay, don't.

I started and finished my first sewing project tonight! Yep, that's how I chose to spend my Friday evening. I was super inspired by this skirt I saw at Anthropologie and thought maybe I could make something similar, but of course far less intricate. Much like ballet and piano, where as a child I refused to take any sort of direction or read any notes off of a page, I sort of winged it. For a first go, I'm not too disappointed, except for the minor fact, that, oh, I'm not a size 2? The skirt fits, but it's a wee bit snug on the hips.
I initially intended for it to be a high waist skirt that would be worn with a shirt tucked in so the bow is visible, but the bow is removable and in order for me to wear this and not look like a fat peg in a square hole, it will require a sweater or shirt to be untucked. -Or I may just give this one away to one of my few blessed size 2 friends.
The seams are semi-straight, but I really had no idea what I was doing, so I think it's excusable. Plus, I think the messiness is only obvious if someone were to inspect it closely. Hell, I even managed to put in an invisible zipper -although I totally disobeyed every step of the instructions.
For a whopping $6 worth of suiting fabric (which is 40% off at Joann's right now) and a $2 zipper, I think I'm okay with the outcome.

Next up will be a shirt made out of this fun jersey-ish material. Pattern? Nope!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Does the rug match the drapes?

Okay, sorry, I couldn't resist the title. Mark and I did some shopping on Sunday and thanks to some generous gifts at our housewarming, picked up some rad new things! We got an awesome coffee maker *not Cuisinart,* some fun kitchen tools, which include a cookie dough scooper (melon baller looking thing), silicone oven mini-mits, and a collapsable strainer.
We also picked up two area rugs. One of the rugs is a runner for our entryway. It is a really tightly braided sisal. The second is a large plum 6'x9' and is placed under our coffee table. We were considering going with a pattern, but i think the solid gives us more flexibility with future design decisions. We are still planning on painting an accent wall a similar dark plum color in the living room. Perhaps this weekend will come with a dose of major motivation.
If you are looking for a fun and unique area rug, World Market is having a great sale and rugs are up to 50% off! *Don't forget rug pads for underneath!* I suggest getting the rug pads elsewhere though. We splurged on the rug-on-rug pad for the 6x9 at World Market and it was almost $40. I then found the rug-on-floor pads at home goods for our runner and kitchen mat for $4.99-$7.99. It definitely pays to shop around.
Aight, it's back to work for me! Have an awesome day!