Tuesday, April 30, 2013

On the Table

A couple of months ago Ryan showed up at our house with a stack of old barn wood he found on Craigslist.  Rusty nails were sticking of the boards from all directions, and the boards were...less than clean.

Ryan's Grandpa passed in January, and he was a woodworker.  When Ryan's uncles were cleaning out Grandpa's garage, they kindly handed down some of Grandpa's tools to Ryan.  Overnight, Ryan's garage turned into a woodshop!  It would've taken us years to save up for the tools Ryan's uncles generously passed on to him.  We bought Ryan a planer, and he got to work making a kitchen table.  I knew it was going to turn out cool, because I think my husband is smart and talented and amazing, but I had no idea just how cool it would turn out!

Ryan also found time to finish painting all of our cabinet doors smack in the middle of track season, his busiest time of year at work.

We bought the chairs at a local antique store ($25/chair) and Ryan painted them white.  I'm beyond thrilled with how it all turned out, and it's 100000x cooler to me since Ryan built it, designed it, the works.  Planing the wood smoothed everything down but still maintained the character of the reclaimed wood with the nail holes, splits in the grain, etc.  Ryan sealed it with a Butcher Block seal.  All total, it was a $310 project-$100 for the wood, $160ish for the chairs, and $40ish for the spray paint/Butcher Block seal.  It feels like a family heirloom already!

I was perusing my Pinterest boards last night and found these inspiration pictures:

Super close, don't you think?  I know that Jess just did the CUTEST cabinet remodel; have you been up to any house projects lately?

Monday, April 29, 2013

This Weekend

Happy Monday!  I hope it's treating you well :)  I know I'm having a productive day-don't you just love those, where you're crossing stuff off that to-do list?

This weekend was filled with LOTS of rain, but that somehow made it super low-key and relaxing, which was nice.  Saturday morning I got up and ran with my mom and my sister Alli + my dogs, Oscar and Ninja and Alli's dog Henry.  It was a great run-3 hilly miles around campus.  Poor Ninja was all bedraggled afterwards...

I baked bread (this recipe-her tip about 1/4 of the water needed for yeast being boiling with the other 3/4 being cold is worth its weight in GOLD) and then tried (somewhat unsuccessfully) to not eat ALL of it at once.  That's the only bread recipe I can do; this time I did 1/2 all purpose flour and 1/2 graham flour which was a great combo.  I watched lots of Scandal; I just discovered that show and I love it.  I also made granola which got a little too toasty, but it still tasted good this morning with blueberries on top.  If you want your house to smell like heaven, make that granola, it's guaranteed.

I also made meat sauce for dinner this week and I am really excited to have it tonight on top of zucchini noodles.  SO GOOD.

I hit Old Navy with my mom and Alli and surprisingly did really well!  I haven't bought much there larely.  Everything was an extra 30% for cardholders and my mom was nice enough to ring up my stuff on her card.  I got this dress (that I'm wearing today) for whatever 30% off of $5.97 is!  I also got a comfy sweater that covers my butt to wear with my leggings (just try and get me out of my leggings on the weekend, try it), a bright orange boatneck T and a swimsuit that doesn't make me feel large.  When you find a swimsuit that doesn't make you feel huge you pretty much buy it, right?

Last week was crazy town work-wise for me, so I'm looking forward to having more time to get projects hammered out this week.  I have a press release and e-blast I need to get out for a storytelling event we're putting on in May, and the Great Race (a time speed endurance rally for cars manufactured before 1969) is getting CLOSE!  I learned how to add transparency to pictures in Indesign today too!

How was your weekend?  How's your week looking?

Monday, April 15, 2013

What Happened Today in Boston

Ryan ran the Boston Marathon in 2009.  It was a joyous, incredible day for both of us.  Watching Ryan run past at mile 10 looking so strong, so in his element.  Jumping on the train, dashing to the finish, seeing him running towards the finish line on the Jumbotron, throwing my arms around him when I found him after the race.  Seeing how happy he was with his time.  I was so proud of him, so glad that his months of hard work paid off, so glad that he got to experience this once-in-a-lifetime race, a milestone in his running career.  We got engaged on the start line later that night.

Seeing what happened today has completely stunned me.  Running in the Boston marathon requires a qualifying time, one that you have to work very hard for.  It's a highlight in any runner's life, and it should be a  happy, euphoric day, a day where they can enjoy the fruits of their labor.

My heart breaks for everyone in Boston today.  I remember trying to find Ryan in all those people....and I can imagine how panicked spectators must have been, trying to find their runners today...trying to get ahold of them and make sure they're safe when their phones are in their gear bags that they checked at the start line.  I remember how packed with people the finish line was, everyone craning their necks to get a glimpse of the runner they're cheering for.  I can't stop looking at Twitter and the news and the pictures are too familiar but nightmarish instead of celebratory like they should be.

I'm so sad.  I'm so sad for everyone in Boston today.  It's a wonderful city full of welcoming, kind people and they love the marathon and everyone who travels from all over the world to run it.  Today should be a happy day, and instead it's heartbreaking.

Church in Boston in '09 decked out for the marathon; the church also offered a Blessing of the Athletes the day before the marathon

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Social Media and Work

I'm in charge of social media for my job in tourism (VisitCape on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter, come check us out, its me behind all those posts!) and sometimes I feel like I've been binging on social media.  I try to unplug at night but it's hard because that's when I want to check my personal accounts.  I know I need to step away from it so it doesn't fry my brain.

I use HootSuite to manage all of my work social media/accounts/posts....what do you use to keep everything straight?

I actually got to meet a HootSuite VP (@DaveOHoots) at a social media conference I went to in November in El Paso, and he talked about these fun community gatherings called "HootUps".  A HootUp is basically like a TweetUp, where you can meet folks you know on Twitter, but it's more social media in general minded.  A friend of mine works for the local university and was organizing a Creativity Festival and wanted to incorporate a HootUp into the festival planning, so we got to put on #HootUpCape, and it ROCKED.

We had the event at a local lounge/tapas place, and kept it super casual.  We streamed my HootSuite on the wall, we had a hashtage (#HootUpCape)...

I submitted our event to HootSuite, and they sent us some "HootKits" with stickers, pins, coozies, temporary tattoos.....lots of fun goodies to make the event even more entertaining.  We had SO many temporary tats that we set up a station on the "tatio".

People even wore awesome owl jewelry, since HootSuite's logo/mascot is a super cute owl :)  

One of the groups I got to work with in planning the event put together these awesome social media photobooth props:

We had a Twitter one, a Facebook one, a Pinterest one and an Instagram one.  It was SO much fun, and we even got some really cool media coverage from the local news station (I come in at the 1:30 mark!)

And @DaveOHoots even tweeted at me.  Fangirl moment right here!  It was SUCH a fun event to work on, with really stellar folks, and I hope we can do another one soon.  I met some people I only knew previously via Twitter/Instagram, so it was great to put names to faces.

Have you ever gone to a HootUp or a TweetUp?  I need to look into doing one of those Instagram meet ups here, I think that would go over well.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Harry Potter World Part 3

Part 1 of our Harry Potter World Adventure here

Part 2 of our Harry Potter World Adventure here

After riding the Forbidden Journey, getting to explore Hogwarts, bowing to Buckbeak, we had to explore more of "snow" covered Hogsmeade...

We had heard so much about the Butterbeer and all unanimously decided to get the frozen (you can get frozen, which is blended kinda like a frozen coffee drink or just cold but we'd heard frozen was better).  They top it with foamy white topping which is like straight sugar.  The park creators went back and forth with J.K. Rowling to make Butterbeer taste just like she had imagined it--it was like a lighter, more sasparilly rootbeer with a lovely thick butterscotch flavor from the foam (that tasted better when you mixed it in).  

We totally got the souvenir mugs.  Even though Mary's in Gryffindor we still hang out with her.

We drank Butterbeer, we shopped the shops, we admired every single window display, we bought tons of souvenirs, we mailed postcards that received an "Owl Post" stamp....

We saw wands choose wizards in Ollivander's, hung out in the Hog's Head pub and the 3 Broomsticks, rode both the Chinese Firebolt coaster and the Hungarian Horntail coaster at the Dueling Dragons ride, got another picture with the Hogwarts Express conducter...

Drank MORE Butterbeer (screw calories, this was HOGSMEADE)...

And had the overall time of our lives, with my absolute favorite girls.  They're working on expanding Harry Potter World, and we have already agreed to go back.

Now I watch the movies or play Lego Harry Potter, and I get misty eyed, because we were there, we stood where the characters we grew up with stood, we experienced a little slice of their magical world.  It's something I'll always be able to go back to in my head, how incredible it all was.  

The people at the park were an odd mix of superfans like us (some dressed in full on robes) and people who were kinda like "what's all the fuss about?".  We met one lady there with her son; she'd been reading the books to him for years and they were both geeking out, it was awesome.  Then that made me worry that my kids might not like Harry Potter, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

This cracks me up:  

Have you ever been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, or gone on the trip of a lifetime with your favorite folks?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Harry Potter World Part 2

Part 1 of our Harry Potter adventure here.

So after walking through Hogsmeade, we rushed to the back of Harry Potter World to get in line for the Forbidden Journey-and this ride is located INSIDE HOGWARTS.  They built Hogwarts.  Emma Watson (Hermione in the movies) said that seeing the castle was a big deal when she visited Harry Potter world, as in the movies its all computer generated-Hogwarts had never been assembled in sum before.  It towered over the whole park, so every time you turned around there it was.

We rushed through the empty parts of the line.  It was maybe 7:15 a.m. by this point, and there was already a wait; lots of others had had the same idea we did!  You waited in line in Professor Sprout's greenhouse for a bit, then you went into the castle.  There was  a locker room where you had to stow your stuff (anything that didn't fit in your pockets); the lockers were free for the amount of time it took you to ride (there was a computer that updated the lockers on how long the wait was), and you accessed it using a fingerprint.  It was awesome.  So we stashed our stuff and walked through Hogwarts.  It was surreal.

Here we are in front of the entrance to Dumbledore's office....

The Defense Against the Dark Arts Classroom.  The cast had recorded special bits, so at one point Dumbledore talks to you, and Harry, Ron and Hermione appear from under the invisibility robe to tell you how they're going to "sneak you out of the castle so you can avoid Professor Bins' lecture on the history of magic".  You see the fat lady, walk through the Gryfindor common room, see talking portraits and way more.  After the sorting hat gives you some safety info, you rush into "magical benches" and take your seat for the ride.  The ride is a mix of movement, real effects and on screen one point you fly over the lake to Hogwarts with Harry and Ron on broomsticks in front of you.  It. was. amazing.

After the Forbidden Journey you're dumped out into a killer gift shop, Filch's Emporium of Confiscated Goods or something, where you can also grab your stuff from your locker.

There are only 3 rides in the park--The Forbidden Journey, the Flight of the Hippogriff and the Dueling Dragons Challenge (which is modeled after the TriWizard Tournament).

What's that?  The Triwizard cup!

Did you see our wands?  Ryan got us a sister gift for Christmas-he ordered me Luna's wand, Allion Hermione's wand and Mary Ginny's wand.  Awesome.  And we obviously enjoyed having them immensely.  We made house scarves too.  We let our nerd flags FLY you guys.

I wish I could tell you how crowded it was, but there aren't even words.  It was jammed with people every way you turned-the first day in the park, Harry Potter world had a wait to get in due to capacity.

And tomorrow I'll tell you how delicious Butterbeer is :)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Harry Potter World Part 1

My mom sent my sisters and I on the trip of a lifetime to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter this past December, and it was magical.  My sisters and I are huge Harry Potter fans and could NOT have had a better time!  Getting to experience the trip with a.) My 2 best friends and b.) with people who loved the books as much as I do was insane.

We stayed at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort on the Universal Studios property.  Staying on the property meant that we were a 15 minute walk away from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (which was within Islands of Adventure) and that we got in an hour before the general public.  Which is a big deal because holy HELL was this place crowded.  We flew from Memphis to Orlando, then took a shuttle to the hotel and got in around 11 at night to find out that they had sold our hotel we got upgraded to the Presidential Suite for the duration of our stay.  The bathroom had a TV that you could swivel to watch in the shower.  It was fancy!

The next day we were up at the crack of dawn so that we could be inside Harry Potter world the second it opened (7 a.m.).  We walked from the hotel to Islands of Adventures, went through the Dr. Seuss section and the Atlantis section to arrive at the entrance to Harry Potter world.  We walked in the gates to Hogsmeade and couldn't contain ourselves--it was like we walked straight into our favorite books!

Pure joy you guys.  We were elated.

Harry Potter world is pretty small and contained.  You walk in the gates of Hogsmeade and see the Hogwarts Express; there's a solid narrative every time you turn around; so you "arrived on the Hogwarts Express" in Hogsmeade and then walked through Hogsmeade to Hogwarts.

The employees are totally in character.  The Hogwarts Express conducter walks around and checks his pocket watch (and poses for pictures of course).  I asked an employee (wearing wizard robes) for a pen and she handed me a quill; when they hand you a receipt to sign they say "Could you sign this for the ministry please".  And we DIED every time!

When you are in line for the Flight of the Hippogriff ride, it's like you're walking up to Hagrid's hut, and his voice is piped in overhead talking to you.  When you go up in the Flight of the Hippogriff ride, Buckbeak BOWS TO YOU and then off you go on the roller coaster (I bowed back-duh).  That awesome music plays everywhere and we were in heaven.

The streets of Hogsmeade were lined with shops, though there were lots of false fronts/decorated windows to provide atmosphere.

Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans in the Honeydukes window

We immediately headed for the Forbidden Journey, which is billed as one of the most technologically advanced roller coasters in the world...and waiting in line was one of the best parts, we had heard.

I'll fill you on the next part tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

New Blog Reader

Google Reader getting the ax has been all over the place, and I was not initially thrilled.  I mean, WTH Google, I'm one of your biggest fans and I love Google Reader?  I figured I'd better rip the bandaid off quickly and make the switch.

I heard some good things about Feedly, so I gave that one a shot.

I really wasn't nuts about it.  The import process was a piece of cake, and it had an Android app so I could read blogs on the go.  I had to click over to one of my favorite blogs and that was annoying, plus it tracks all of your browsing which bothers me.

So I went back to Google Reader, grudgingly, only to hear good things about Bloglovin.  I signed up and started the blog import process, and after about 2 days of tinkering around and getting comfy, I am now a much bigger fan of Bloglovin than I was of Google Reader!  I really love that you see the blog as it appears-the pretty designs and features people put on their blogs weren't stripped out, like they were in Google Reader.  But most of all, you could leave comments on people's blogs within Bloglovin itself, which is a huge improvement over Google Reader!

Have you found a new blog reader system after Google made the announcement that Reader was disappearing in July?  Which one are you digging?