October 23, 2009

Amber's travel tips

Aka: The Things I've Learned:

1. If you can, carry on! Most towns nowadays have Wal-Marts, which makes getting your (mini)essentials that much easier, and less of a hassle to travel with. If you're like me however and need certain brands or items, pick up a handy-dandy airplane bag. You know just how much you're allowed to pack. Be sure to check your local TSA website for update rules and regulations.

2. Always read your labels! Last night I was purchasing some contact solution for the trip and a bunch of the boxes had little airplane icons on them. However, they were four fluid ounces each. To my knowledge, the limit is still three in the U.S.

3. Empty containers are great. I pack my cold cream, facial exfoliate, and sometimes even lotions or oils in the empty containers they carry in the mini-aisles. Until they make travel-sized cold cream or apricot scrub, this is the only way to keep my face looking pretty on a trip.

4. If you have hotel reservations, car rentals, or anything of the sort, print out your confirmation pages. I can't tell you how many times Jason and I have shown up, only to be told there's no reservation under our name. Because we had proof they were required to find a room for us--and sometimes we were even given better suites because of it.

5. Eye drops, Dramamine, gum, and water are essential in airplane travel. And if you can get a glass of Airborne down as well, more power to you! Eye drops are great for re-hydrating and whitening your peepers; Dramamine is great for fighting off air-sickness (if you're prone like I am); gum and water are great ways to get your ears to pop on ascent and descent--as well as tipping your head back. I don't know why it works, but it does.

6. Have fun! Sometimes it's the journey, sometimes it's the destination--and sometimes it's just getting to travel with a really hot companion (Jason♥). But the most important thing about traveling is to make the best of everything and enjoy yourself!

See you in a week!

October 22, 2009

need your opinions dear readers

So we take off Saturday morning and I am having a hell of a time figuring out what to wear on the plane! We all know there's that unspoken "rule" about airplane-chic, but we also know that nowadays an ensemble has to be security gate friendly as well. Thankfully, we're only in for a two hour flight which makes the ability to wear something a little more chic and not have to worry about much discomfort.

I had been planning on wearing my grey jacket with grey tights and black shoes for the flight. However, the shoes have buckles on them which makes for a struggle to take them on and off to walk through security. The whole jacket-dress combo may confuse the security guards and the last thing I want to do is have to flash a Travel Security Agent or be taken off to some little room because I refuse to remove my jacket (which is actually being worn as a dress). Plus, I wear a vintage brooch on the lapel and that's sure to set off alarms unless I unfasten it and send it through the x-ray machine. Quite an ordeal to start the trip, wouldn't you say?

Therefore, I've come up with these outfit alternatives and I'm needing your help deciding on which one I should wear.

Outfit #1

Black bow cardi with jeans, faux snake skin slip-on pumps (I can do airports in heels), grey jacket (worn as a jacket), and pearls to accessorize.

Outfit #2

Grey chinos with layered tees, grey knit sweater (which is a little longer than bolero length), and choice of shoes. The shoes directly correspond with the combination I layer the tees in. If I wear white on top of brown, it takes on a grey hue and looks fabulous with my faux snake skin heels. If I wear brown on top of white, the colors match perfectly with my Ugg boots. The sweater would also be accessorized by a vintage brooch and I'd wear my diamond earrings to top it all off.

If it makes any difference, right now Oregon is experiencing highs near 60-degrees F (or 15-degrees C), and lows near 40-degrees F (or 4-degrees C), and no rain for the day we arrive. However, both Friday and Sunday are calling for about an 80% chance of rain, so I'm not expecting that prediction to stick!

So what do you think?

October 20, 2009

sheets? what sheets?

We purchased four packs of Wamsutta twin sized (flat) sheets from Bed Bath & Beyond on Sunday. We also placed an order for one more pack, to be delivered in the next two weeks or so. I promised to tell you why, and now I am.

I made them into curtains. No, I take that back. I made them into plain black 96-inch curtains which were next to impossible to find unless I wanted to have tab tops (ick--sorry to anyone who has them, I hate them) or pay to have them custom made.

Originally I was going to buy fabric to make them, but fabric was going to cost about $7 per yard, and I would need two and half yards (7 x 2.5 = $17.50 per panel). Which wasn't much better than buying them from the store. Buying them from a store would have been okay, except I wanted 96-inch curtains and they all cost a minimum of $25 per panel--even at Target and Wal-Mart. Not even Ikea carried plain black curtains.

So I resorted to an old fall back: sheets on curtain clips. And I have to say, I'm rather happy with the results.

Twin flat sheets (5) from BB&B - $10 ea
Index curtain rods (4) from Ikea - $2 ea
Brass curtain clips from BB&B (2 pks of 14) - $4 ea
Hold-backs from Wal-Mart (3 packs of 2) - $4 ea
Flat black spray paint for curtain rings - $0 (already owned)
Total: $19.50 per window

Think about that. I spent less than $20 per window. Considering that a single panel can cost that much (on the cheap end, then factor in a second panel and about another $15 for your curtain rod) I'd say I saved us a good chunk of change.

So there you have it. That's why this crazy couple needed five packs of twin flat sheets from Bed Bath & Beyond. :)

October 18, 2009

bed bath & "beyond"

Today we learned what the "Beyond" stands for. And no, it's not where you get a remote that lets you control life like a DVD, Adam Sandler. It stands for their "Beyond Store" online, a.k.a. when an associate orders an item for you because the actual store is out! We cleaned them out of Pinpoint 360-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets by Wamsutta. But of course, I needed one more pack. The girl who helped us was very sweet and didn't even ask the crazy couple in front of her why on Earth anyone needed five packs of flat twin sheets. :) Oh, there's a reason. But you'll have to wait to find out what it is.

We also managed to pick up some place mats for Thanksgiving dinner for only $1.99 a piece (I chose a really pretty orange color that reminded me of pumpkin pie), some new dish towels for our kitchen, a new oven mit, and a new dish washing brush (it's one of those super fun ones that holds the soap in the handle and has a little button you can push to release some suds. What? If I have to do dishes I'm going to get all the fun out of it I can!). Add in our five packs of sheets (only $10 each) and we were ready to go.

Our bill rang up to $104 and some change, which wouldn't have been bad in itself since we were buying so many things of sheets. But ah! I whipped out a stack of 15 20% coupons (gotta love the fact that Bed Bath & Beyond accepts expired coupons) which brought our total down to a whopping $84!! WHOO-HOO!

Stay tuned for the skinny on the sheets!

PS: The pumpkin patch with our friends, and the BBQ with my aunt and uncle were both a ton of fun! We made piggies of ourselves and bought a pound and a half of fudge, followed by chowing down on some scrumptious dinner with our family. A truly great (but very exhausting) day!

October 16, 2009

Thanksgiving: the plan

Since this is the first year we're back in California--not to mention the first time we a.) have a real house since living in California and b.) we have a real table--I offered to host Thanksgiving dinner for us, my mom and step-dad, and my grandma and grandpa, plus any extra Marines who aren't going home. It's an odd holiday and most of them save up their money and leave to go home for Christmas. If you happen to live near a base, please consider adopting a few Marines/Sailors/Soldiers/any service member (or a whole unit) if you can. It's very rough to be alone on the holidays. But I digress.

Now, being vegetarians, this has always been a weird holiday for us when it comes to cooking. The first year we went veggie, we had vegetarian shepherd's pie as our main course. Last year, it was lobster tails. This year, we're actually doing the Tofurky route (if you've never heard of Tofurky before, click here). We're actually pretty excited to try it out.

My menu looks like this for now:

- black olives
- green olives
- tomatoes
- assorted cheese & crackers

Main Course
- Tofurky
- Turkey breast (for the carnivores)
- Cranberry apple potato dumplings
- Wild rice
- Stuffing
- Mashed potatoes
- Green bean casserole
- Gravy & cranberry sauce

- Homemade pumpkin & cherry pies (Jason's in charge of these--he makes a wicked pumpkin pie)

- Mulled apple cider
- Coffee
- Water
- Milk

I'm very nervous to host my first ever Thanksgiving dinner, but I'm also very honored. However, I'll definitely let someone else host Christmas! :)

October 13, 2009

onwards! (updated)

Now that my parents' birthday bash is over, the move is behind us, and the Highland Games have come and gone until next year, it's time to start the final preparations for Oregon!

I'm so excited and I cannot wait to see my cousins! I can't wait for Jason to meet this other part of my family who I spent so much of my childhood with. Plus, I've never been up North at this time of year. I know it's going to be cold but I'm also hoping to see some gorgeous late-fall foliage.

But being the little prissy thing that I am, I'm looking forward to the wardrobe aspect of the trip just as much (does that make me a bad person?). I've got one outfit hammered out already, and I'm thinking I'll build the rest of my wardrobe around it. Just imagine it with grey tights, black gloves, my Coach glasses from the Highland Games, and a scarf of some sort.

Vintage grey dress jacket - Etsy; shoes - Söfft; vintage brooches - Etsy.

I also have my grey jeans from Banana Republic which are super comfortable and will travel well, so they'll go into the suitcase too. The only other items I want to be sure to fit in are my brown snow boots which I purchased last year for the cross-country drive--good thing since we did actually encounter snow!

(Note to self: see if I can fit pea coat into luggage!)

I still have another week to decided on all the details, but at least I've got a color scheme in mind. If it can go with black or grey it will be considered!

Let's see how our calendar is shaping up since last we checked it...

September 11 - baseball game
September 12 - professional head shots
September 12 - Mom & Step-dad's 50th birthday party
September 13 - baseball game
September 28 - planned move date

October 10 - Highland Games
October 11 - Highland Games

*October 16 - TV audience participation (<--- canceled)
*October 17 - pumpkin patch
*October 17 - family BBQ @ Aunt & Uncle's house
October 24 - leave for Oregon
October 31 - return from Oregon

November 3 - leave for San Francisco
November 5 - return from San Francisco
November 17 - planned trip to Houston
November 19 - planned return from Houston
(canceled--it was my event and I decided not to go)
*November 26 - host Thanksgiving dinner (!!)
November 27 - free resort weekend
November 28 - free resort weekend

And in between all that I still want to:
- repaint dining room table
- strip & paint table leaf (for Thanksgiving)
- finish computer chair
- get house in order for the holidays

The house will be my absolute number one priority after we get home from Oregon. I want to talk about Thanksgiving in another post, but we'll be hosting it this year which is a first. That means (to me anyway) my house has to be in tip top condition so I can show it off and open it up. Right now it will just be six of us, but I've told Jason that any little lonely Marines in his shop are more than welcome to share our table--I just hope they like Tofurky! ;)

October 12, 2009

seaside highland games

The lowest "High"land games in history, held at just three feet above sea level! ;) Jason and I spent the weekend in Ventura, California representing our Scottish Clan MacFie at the Highland Games. Sadly, we were the only MacFies there as the clan is rather small. I'm hoping that next year (when we attend the San Diego Highland Games) we'll have better luck at meeting some of our fellow Scotsmen.

All bundled up and ready to go. Ventura was very cold!

(I'm wearing the family colors in my scarf.)

There were British cars on display, which I loved. I've never seen a car with a left sided steering wheel!

This truck was my favorite. I've always wanted a vintage truck and this one is my size!

The athletics taking place. Putting the Stone (it weighs 26-pounds!).

(Now you know what men wear under their kilts!)

Throwing of the Weights. The bar is raised to 20 feet in the air, and the contestant tries to throw a 50-pound anvil over the top.

He just barely missed!

At the Tartan Information Booth. The display of military tartans made me cry when I saw this plaque:

A veteran--whether Active Duty or Retired,
Reserve or National Guard--
is someone who at one point in his or her life,
wrote a blank check made payable to
"The United States of America"
for the amount of
"up to and including my life."
You have earned, and deserve, the respect of your country men.

We loved this map of Scotland showing where all the clans came from. Jason was tickled to find out we're actual Highlanders. Here we are on our own little island!

This group was our favorite part of the whole weekend. It's a family group called "Celtic Spring," and they're too amazing for words. I shot this video in hopes that it would do a better job at describing their immense talent than I could!

Featured in the video is Mary (mother), Greg (dad), Elizabeth, Maire (pronounced like Mara), Sean, Patrick, and young Aiden.

And of course, there was lots and lots of delicious food! We partook in fish and chips, garden burgers, and the Celtic version of strawberry shortcake: scones with strawberries and cream.


October 8, 2009

thrifty to the maxx

We've been talking about finding a little mail sorter for our home. Just something simple, and not sterile looking--no metal office supplies of any sort were going to find their way into my little house! Jason and I had only tossed the idea back and forth once or twice and then kind of forgot about it.

But then we went on our three hour tour yesterday and wound up in TJ Maxx. I've been snubbing them lately because I've been on a real kick about finding furniture in flea markets or antique stores. I want stuff with age. So I was very shocked when I found myself longing after a few of the items on the shelves.

These little mushrooms ($8 and $10 each) would have been so adorable painted white and displayed on one of our black pieces of furniture--ideally, on my wall unit, which has yet to be painted.

Jason spotted this red transferware set. I could have had a perfect set of six for only $86 total, but remembered in time that as much as I love transferware, my love of colors tend to shift dramatically. I can always repaint furniture. I can't repaint dishes. So they stayed on the shelves.

Then we came across this.

A bright cherry red mail sorter. ::swoon:: I was immediately in love with the color. But my affections waned when I started saying, "Well, I'll want to replace the hardware. And I wish it didn't say LETTERS. And I wish the section dividers were a bit taller..." And the price tag on it was $11. (I know, I know, big whoop. But I wasn't feeling the $11 plus all the changes I wanted to make to such a small piece.) Then, we spotted the white one right next to it.

(Sorry for the evening sun coming through the blinds.)

(Much better.)

Since it was already white, there was no need to prime it. Just a quick rub down with my sanding sponge and a couple coats of Rustoleum Colonial Red (a very nice rich red color which reminds me of an old barn).

Another quick passover with my sanding sponge to let some of the white show through...

And voila! A happy little mail sorter. It now sits right next to our front door where we can drop bills and magazines once we get them, and stack them up for when they're ready to go out. I was thinking of painting my table black, but now I'm thinking I may go white, that way I'll have a little red white and blue action going on!

So overall I spent around $8 for the whole project. And now I have a new can of spray paint in my arsenal! ;)

October 7, 2009

three hour tour

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip
That started from this tropic port
Aboard this tiny ship..."

Amber's Day In a Nutshell: (<---haha! Nutshell. "Nuts in a shell." I made a funny.)
1. Get idea for a gift for BFF and her two baby girls.
2. Have this thought process: Gift requires a trip to Home Depot. Goodwill is near Home Depot. Boxes and bags piled up in new garage. Ooh! Two birds, one stone!
3. Talk husband into making the trip by promising to drive.
4. Get to Goodwill. Find out tire is low on air.
5. Go to gas station to fill up tire.
6. Realize there's a huge gash in tire.
7. Fear not! Tire store, a block down.
8. Tire store has my tires in stock ::happy dance::
9. Is going to cost $150 to have tire replaced.
10. Pout.
11. Decide that TJ Maxx across the street is the best place to kill time and make self feel happy again.
12. Step onto sidewalk.
13. Fall flat on face.
14. Get saved by husband and limp over to TJ Maxx.
15. $158.14 ($151.60 for tire, $6.54 for TJ Maxx) and three hours later, get home.

On the bright side, I got two big projects done today: the washing basin stand and the Ikea shelves. And...

I'm actually participating in my first ever Blog Party--by accident really. It just so happened I got these projects finished on the same day that Shanty 2 Chic was holding their "get together." The washing basin stand turned out beautifully. This piece is (at least) from the early 1980's so it was in need of a facelift. Buh-bye tarnished brass hardware. Buh-bye sticky lacquered wood. Hello beautiful!

All I really had to do for this project was a lot of disassembling, priming, painting, and reassembling (except for the few hours I spent fixing a leg that was falling off. Somewhere along the line someone tried to glue it back on, not realizing the bolt had simply come loose. I don't know how long I soaked the pieces in nail polish remover before finally removing a huge hunk of old glue). I gave a few pieces a light sanding, but the primer kind of eliminated the need for it.

I used all Rustoleum paint (♥) and actually gave their primer a try for the first time as well. REALLY love it! I used Rustoleum Heirloom White for the wood, which is a nice soft white color. Not too harsh, not too ivory. I used their flat black enamel spray paint for the brass racks because I wanted a good contrast between the hardware and the wood (especially since there's so little hardwood on the piece).

Now for the shelves. They did turn out very nicely but oh. my. God. what a pain! And really, they're still a little on the messed up side.

Yes, they are the same shelves! Complete transformation, huh? That's what makes me happy. I used a tutorial from Traci at Beneath My Heart and her Ballard Designs cafe shelves. The tutorial is great, but my execution is what screwed me up.

I bought a real lovely leaf trim from Home Depot to add a surprise visual interest to the shelves, and used Liquid Nails to attach them (Traci uses a nail gun as well, but at the time, all I had was my staple gun and staples. The LN works just fine). The corbels also got a couple smears of LN and plenty of drying time (I learned this the hard way when I popped one of the brackets off because the glue hadn't fully dried).

(Me learning the ins and outs of a miter box. Notice that I cut my perfect 45-degree angle the wrong way!)

The shelves had already been painted, but I went over everything again with a good dousing of Rustoleum paint in both satin and gloss spray paint. The satin was used for a base and the gloss went on top. The big issue arose when it came time for me to hang them. I bought the wrong corbels for the shelves; they have these little slots in the back that make it seem as simple as sliding them over a nail--but they pull away from the walls and tip forward with no real way to fix them. I kind of rigged them with some D-rings and large head nails for now but it really REALLY bugs me--hence the lack of super close up shots.

I'll get new corbels the next time I go to Home Depot and overall I will do this project again. I think after everything was said and done I ended up spending about $20 per shelf, but the cost will go down in the future since I'll have the necessary tools (if you subtract my miter box, saw, and Liquid Nails, the cost goes down to $11.50 per shelf).

One more time with the pretty pictures, eh?


Coming up tomorrow, my $6.54 TJ Maxx purchase!

(What? You didn't think I went in there and came out empty handed did you?)

October 4, 2009

welcome home

Welcome to White Planes.

My perfect white kitchen that I am absolutely in love with. (Don't let the lighting fool you. The walls are also bright white.)

The upstairs landing.

Looking into our bedroom from our bathroom.

The light in our new house is amazing. The breeze coming off of the ocean is close to heavenly. The fact that we are the very first people to ever live in this house sweetens the entire deal! We can't get over the size (we also have a large living room, dining room, and a front sitting room) and I think in the last week I've walked almost 30 miles just inside the house alone. Up the stairs, down the stairs, in the garage, around the garage, out the back door, in the kitchen--it's been surreal. The kitchen has to be my most favorite room in the house right now. It's so pristine. I have a gorgeous window over the sink where I can enjoy the breeze and the sunshine that pours through it.

And of course, the mere fact that the kitchen is white is another reason I love it. My black and red accessories really pop.

Of course, me being the accident prone little creature I am, I didn't make it through moving day unscathed.

My near broken toe, courtesy of our bedroom dresser. DROP! Right on it.

We've been settling in bit by bit everyday. My brother helped us move, and he was even sweet enough to take me to a local antique mall. I went hoping to find a desk for our office, but walked out with a gorgeous new chair for it instead.

It only has the one flaw in the caning, but my step-mom assures me that you can buy rolls of caning to fix it. Worse case scenario, I cut it out and upholster the back instead. I'm working on the seat cushion this weekend--my dad was just up here with his jigsaw to cut out a nice base for the seat. Here it is currently.

Today, our first real day off, I'm embellishing my Ikea shelves--wait until you see them! They look SO much better than before! I'm painting the washing basin stand that my mother gave me (imagine my delight when I realized it broke down into pieces), and I'll be upholstering the seat cushion, or at least attempting to. Jason's off for the next two weeks (!!) so the house will come to order soon enough.

There's a lot in store for me on the homefront, but I'll save it for another day!