From the Files Friday – Southermost Point

From the files Friday started when I bought a new computer that came with a little widget to the right of my screen that searches for any image on my computer and displays it in a slideshow. Every so often it unearths an image that has been burried so deep in my file system for so many years that I forgot it existed, so I’ve decided to post one of these every Friday. Today’s image:

Southermost Point

Me, Jeff and Sammy at the US’ Southernmost Point in Key West FL 10/17/2004.

It was my birthday weekend and we were living in Fort Lauderdale. Jeff surprised me with a trip to Key West. We stayed at a dog friendly B&B, (which I think doubled as a gay nudist colony) and had an amazing time. One of the highlights was roller blading around the island, it was an excellent way to sight see, despite the fact that it was tricky dodging pedestrians on the overcrowded sidewalks!

(On an unrelated note, it’s shocking to for me to see how thin my pre-pregnancy body was, I feel like I am at least twice that size at the moment. I wonder if I’ll ever be skinny again post baby?)

Here’s another wider shot that I took of Jeff so you can see the beauty of that spot:


Have a great weekend everyone!

Tag I’m It.

I was tagged by three great bloggers, Ben of DC Rowhouse, John of This Young House and Betsey of Farm House Musings. sorry I’m a bit slow on the uptake guys!

Here we go..

The rules: Answer the following questions about yourself. At the end of the post you pass on the questions to 6 (or so) other bloggers and list their names. Then write them a comment telling them that they’ve been tagged and ask them to read your blog.

1. What did you do 10 years ago?

Uh oh, now you’re making me do math… and remember things.

Let’s see, I was 24.. I *think* that’s around the time I started writing/playing music.  Probably back in the stage where I was really bad at it but thought I was pretty good. That blind belief in my talent actually got me a lot farther than the hypercritical self-scrutiny that was to follow! To support myself I was working part time as an office manager and commuting back and forth between NYC and my parents’ house in Rockland.

2. Five items on your to-do list today:

1) Call and try to register for childbirth classes (again, already left one message!)

2) Buy liquid iron supplement before I keel over from severe anemia.

3) Go grocery shopping

4) Double check my baby registry and make sure I didn’t forget anything – last chance, shower day after tomorrow!

5) Fill out forms to get reimbursed for some FSA expenses.

Wow, that’s really not an interesting read!

3. Snacks I enjoy:

I am in love with Blue Diamond Wasabi Soy almonds. Seriously, they are like crack.  Any type of cheese and lately fruit, particularly watermellon and canteloupe.

4. What would you do if you were a billionaire?

We’d definitely buy a bigger house. And a few vacation homes too.  I’d quit my job so I could stay at home and raise Jasper myself and I’d finally release the album that I started recording 7 or so years ago and never finished.

5. Places I would live:

We’d get a bigger house in Rockland County to be near family, but we’d also get a brooklyn brownstone to be near all of our friends. We’d definitely get an apartment in Miami Beach or maybe a nice house in coral gables.  Maybe a little cabin up in Bar Harbor Maine and a vacation house in Tuscany.

6. Bloggers I am passing the challenge onto are:

Uh, I think I missed the boat because so many of you have been tagged already!  I apologize if you’ve already been there done that but I’m tagging Jean from Renovation Therapy (formerly I love Upstate!)  Mrs. Limestone of Brooklyn Limestone 

I’ll keep thinking and add more later!

This is just the beginning…

Of baby clutter:

It didn’t hit me until today, but we will become one of those people. You know those people on HGTV who are trying to sell their house and the real estate agents come in to critique them? And if you are DINKS like we are (soon to be were) you can’t believe they thought it was ok to have an entire portion of the living room dedicated to plastic kid crap!

But now I realize it’s because you have to. There’s no where else for it to go. And there’s just so much of it. We haven’t even had our baby shower yet and we already have too much baby stuff to know what to do with, I can’t imagine where we’ll put it all.

For example, where do you keep those plastic baby tubs when not in use? It’s not like you can fold it up and put it under your bathroom sink!

I imagine that you just become blind to the eyesore that has become your former beautiful home. The same way that women “forget” the pain of childbirth or how moms can continue a conversation right through a chorus of  “”mommy mommy mommy” without hesitation.

You become immune.

Those people on HGTV probably don’t even see the toys in the middle of the living room even though the rest of us are gasping in horror.  We will become them, it’s just a matter of when.

From the Files Friday

Last week, I finally had to admit to myself that I needed a new computer. Mine was over 4 years old, which is the equivalent of what in human years, 98? After a few BSOD episodes (for you mac people that’s “Blue Screen of Death”, sort of like a sad mac. i.e. very very bad.) I bit the bullet and ordered a new Dell.

One of the features of this schmancy new desktop I got is a little widget to the right of my screen that searches for any image on my computer and displays it in a slideshow. The cool thing about this is every so often it unearths an image that has been burried so deep in my file system for so many years that I forgot it existed:

slideshow widget

Slidsehow Widget

It’s fun to see these long forgotten photos, so I’ve decided that I’ll share some of these here and call it “From the Files Friday” or maybe “Friday Files?”At any rate, it’s my first attempt at a regular feature.. I’m not known for my stick-to-it-iveness, so this may be the first and last but we’ll see!


Friday File: Michele and Hector dancing at their wedding in Xacatlan Mexico

This is an image I shot in the summer of 2006, about 6 months after our wedding. Michele is my dear friend from growing up, we went to school together from 3-12 grade and remain very close even though she lives in Minnesota and I rarely see or even talk to her. But when I do, its like no time at all has passed. One of those friends.

Hector is from Xacatlan, so the wedding was a large traditional celebration with about 250 of his relatives (most of the town!) in attendance. It was truly a village affair, Hector’s brother built the stage you see them dancing on and his uncle the town mayor performed the wedding ceremony.

Michele and Hector met during Tango lessons, so it added a whole other layer of meaning to the two of them dancing together on their wedding day.

It wasn’t easy for us to get to this remote Mexican town, physically or financially, but the memories of that experience will stay with us forever.

Now Michele and Hector have a baby boy Leo, who is approaching 10 months old. I hope someday he and Jasper will have the chance to get to know one another.

Have a great weekend!

Mobile Madness – Ariana Gets Crafty?

But first an update on Knut vs. Oliver 2008.. Thank you SO much everyone for voting.  Opinions seem to be pretty much evenly divided,  so I’ll have to do what I always do when I can’t make up my mind… buy both!

Now onto the mobiles..

One of the last things I want to tackle before calling the nursery done is make a mobile. I did a google search on diy mobiles and didn’t come up with much, until I hit the motherload of mobile inspriration and general tour de force of craftiness in this mobile swap Flickr photo pool.

Here are two made of cardboard/cardstock that I love:

This one is made of fabric and also has a tutorial via ohdeedoh:

But this one, made of felt and blogged about here

along with this sheep and trees mobile blogged about here

are my current obsessions/inspiration. I want to buy up the world’s supply of felt and make cute monkey “softies” or “stuffies” or “felties” as all the cool crafters  call them.

Here are the pieces I’ve made so far:

felt monkey

Monkey in Progress

Finished Monkey Feltie

Bird in Progress

Finished Felt Birdie

If the idea of making felties strikes anyone else’s fancy, I followed futuregirl’s amazing tutorials to learn the two different stiches (blanket stitch and whip stitch.)

I’m not sure what other shapes I want for the mobile.. I’m thinking a tree and a leaf shape taken from the crib bedding:

And maybe a cloud thrown in for good measure.

When I’m finished with the mobile, I’m thinking I may try to make this Softie Scottie Dog because I feel a felt addiction coming on:

How cute is he? Pattern and tutorial at allsorts.

Family Picnic

Every year my dad’s family has a big shindig on father’s day weekend at his very wealthy cousin’s estate in Bryn Mawr, PA. They call it the “family picnic” but the word picnic doesn’t even begin to do it justice.

There is a professional DJ, videographer, caterers, centerpieces, an ice cream man, etc. etc. Its a pretty fancy affair and I hadn’t been in a while. In fact, most of the family had never even met Jeff, which is pretty crazy considering we’ve been together 5.5 years!

I managed to snap a few pictures between catching up with everyone (“no, it’s NOT twins!!!”) so you can see the magnificence of their house.. if i were more agile and mobile than I currently am at the moment I would have run around taking better pictures, but you get the idea:

Formal Gardens (there’s a koi pond at the end..)

Basketball and tennis courts (that’s my mom and dad playing, aren’t they cute?)

Part of the back of the house (that’s a miro sculpture!)

Rose covered Pergola. And I thought our roses were nice…

Me squishing Jeff under my mammoth weight!

“Secret Garden”. We called it that because we couldn’t figure out what the pineapple looking plants that they were growing in there were.

Pool with changing cabanas in background.

Trust me when I say these pics don’t do it justice. It was a lovely time, marred only by the fact that I started having contractions for the last hour and a half of the trip and had to make another trip to the hospital (I’m fine now) but that is a story for another  blog..

Hope you had a nice weekend!

Roses Roses everywhere..

In addition to his many other talents, my husband also has a very green thumb.

Or maybe it’s just the weather.  Whatever the reason, the roses this year have been unbelievably abundant.. I don’t think half this many bloomed last year!

Roses by our bench

Up Close..

Terrible picture, but look at all the roses on top of the pergola!

In other news..

we are having someone come to clean our house for the first time ever today… ah the luxury! It just took me being 7 months pregnant to use as an excuse, but I’m quite sure that we’ll never go back now. Seems like it will be one of those things that once you have it you can’t imagine how you lived without it all those years..

Plea for help

If you have a moment, could you please hop over to becoming-mom and weigh in on my Oliver vs. Knut art dilemma? I’d be much obliged :)

Heat Wave Hell

Sorry I haven’t posted much lately. Truth is, without central A/C I’ve been literally a prisoner of our bedroom, the only room that currently has a window unit in it.

Generally our house stays very cool thanks to the ginormous oak tree that hangs over our roof. But with three straight days of 100+ degree heat it was hellishly hot and uncomfortable.

Thankfully the heat wave ended today and it is a positively refreshing 87 degrees outside!

I thought I would take this opportunity to show you what I’ve been staring at for the past three days:

Yep, we finally took the plunge and got a flat screen TV for the bedroom! As usual, our excuse was the baby..

Our previous old tiny tv was positioned to the right of Jeff’s head, basically on the same plain as our headboard and a few inches from where Jasper will sleep in his bassinet for the first few months.  It also caused neck cramps due to the 90 degree viewing angle and was one of those “temporary” things that went on way too long.

So at least during our captivity we were entertained in style.. but I’m still thrilled at the prospect of being able to roam the house freely tonight!

Ikea is Dead to Me

I hate IkeaSaturday, the first day of this ungodly 100+ degree heat wave we’ve been having here we decided that we would make the ikea trip that we’ve been putting off for at least a month now.

I should have taken it as a sign of things to come when I spent all morning searching in vain for the receipt for the defective mikael filing cabinet. Not deterred, I convinced Jeff that we needed to go to Ikea Elizabeth, about an hour drive from our house rather than Ikea Paramus, a 20 minute drive because they had the perfect patio umbrella and outdoor canvas canopy thingy for our pergola in stock.


In addition to these two things, I still had to return a set of curtains (that I did have the receipt for) and also wanted to pick up two more of the adorable malaro white chairs for our patio set:

And bonus, they are having a summer sale, so some of these things may even be marked down!

After arriving at lunch time and waiting in line for 30 minutes for food, we wended our way through the top floor show room like obedient lab rats and finally arrived at the marketplace in search of the outdoor items.. which were actually displayed in the middle of the self service area.

You wouldn’t think that would be a big enough place to display them, but ha, it is! Because guess what? They don’t have ANYTHING left.

Now, I know what you ikea savvy shoppers are thinking, why would I expect the items to still be there after the summer sale has already been in progress for two weeks?

Because I checked the item availability on Ikea’s website for the umbrella 5 minutes before we left, that’s why! It said “in stock” yes.. which I oh so naively took to mean that they had the product in stock.

I called over a woman from that product area to ask her to double check, figuring maybe they JUST sold out and there was one lying around somewhere. “Oh no, we sold out of that like a month ago” she says. I think my blood pressure just about doubled at that point.

So they didn’t have the umbrella which was the main reason for our trip there, but they would have the outdoor canopy thingy right? Nope, they don’t have that either. Sold out.

And the Malaro chairs? Sold out too.


Lest you don’t believe me, here is a stock report from Ikea’s site for the elusive Karlso umbrella that I generated JUST NOW (see thet date and time?)

Ikea lies

I like the part where it says “we always err on the side of caution to avoid disappointment”.

The moral of the story is that Ikea’s website “stock” check is a big bunch of crap. I asked an “associate” how the hell one was supposed to avoid wasting the major part of their Saturday and at least $15 worth of gas for nothing.. she said to call and ask for that department and speak to someone in person. Ok fine, but why the hell don’t they say that on the website? Why even offer an absurdly inaccurate stock check at all?

After picking up a few items we could have gotten at our local paramus Ikea Jeff waited in line to checkout while I stomped off to get some frozen yogurt to dull my pain…

The frozen yogurt machine was broken.

Big suprise.

Monkey in the Mural!

Poor Jeff got home from work at 8:30 last night and had little to no interest in finishing the mural… He didn’t seem to think “because I said we would on the blog” was any great incentive! He eventually relented and worked for the next three hours straight doing mostly cleanup work and painting the monkey.

Without further ado, the completed mural:

If you look really closely in the last picture, you can see the little carving in the tree of our initials (AF+JF) in a heart.

So, that completes the monkey mural project, phew!

Commenter Artsy Fartsy asked for some tips on mural painting, but I don’t think we did anything particularly special or out of the ordinary (other than the fact that Jeff is an illustrator and art school graduate so very comfortable with a pencil and a paintbrush.)

So I guess I’ll just outline the steps that we did and the materials we used:

1) Mock up the design in a design program overlayed on a picture of the wall (we used adobe illustrator).

2)  Using your mock up as a guide, block out the general size and shape of the design with low tack painter’s tape.

3) Using a regular pencil with a good clean eraser, sketch your design on the wall.

4) Paint!

That’s really it, no magic here. I will say that the lighter you can make your pencil lines the better because the places where Jeff got too dark were much harder to erase. Some places left smudging that we had to go back and touch up with the background blue wall color.

There were parts that we realized didn’t come out quite right, like branches that were a bit wonky so Jeff just reshaped them using the blue wall color.  If we had messed them up again, we could have gotten out the branch color again, you can touch up pretty much endlessly.

Here are the colors used in the project, I bought quarts of the leaf and branch colors and used sample pots for the monkey colors:

Wall Color:  BM  Crystal Blue
Tree Color: BM Brushed Aluminum
Leaf Color: BM Wales Green
Monkey Fur: BM Kingsport Grey (used a small sample pot and mixed in about two teaspoons of white paint to lighten a bit)
Monkey Face, ears, feet, etc: BM Malton (also a sample pot.)

If you are interested in other tree mural projects, here are two that inspired me:

Kayla’s Beautiful Sideblown Quince 

Rachel’s Seasonal Tree Mural

Now, how to decorate the other two blank walls??