Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Using Fabric as Wallpaper

I have doing some more research on temporary decorating options for apartment dwellers. I really love the idea of temporary wallpaper or renters wallpaper, that I wrote about earlier this month, but as I mentioned in the post there are a few drawbacks 1) cost and 2) unknowns of how clean it actually removes. While white walls can be crisp and provide a modern background for an apartment, the option to personalize a space with paint or wallpaper is a great option to add a design element. Lately, I have been hearing about another alternative that seems to be the most affordable and easiest to remove option! Enter...


As wallpaper!!

The options are greatly expanded, as my reading seems to suggest that a medium, to heavy weight cotton fabric and some liquid cornstarch will transform a wall. With places like IKEA even selling bold printed fabrics for purchase by the yard, this can be a cost- effective and low-commitment project. 

Some great posts that I found on how this works and what the expected outcome can be are here, here and here

Seems simple, but I am sure there is some time (and a buddy) needed to get it up on the wall. I also think being smart about the design is key here. Lining up repeating patterns can be tricky! I also read some comments about the fabric shrinking once it was wet, so the panels would pull away from each other, and also that some fabrics would bleed the color onto the wall. Perhaps prewashing your fabric would be smart.

I am impressed by how permanent the results look and the fact that it really does sound like there is very little residue or issue with removing it when it is time to pack up and move. 

Has anyone tried this? Would anyone try this DIY?

As another option, albeit a very temporary one, wrapping paper seems to also get the same affect but with very little permanence. A quick and easy solution which you can read about here.  

Read about my original ideas of using temporary or renters wallpaper here. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

An Owl Birthday Cake

Some close friends of ours have an adorable little girl who just turned two and we got invited to the party! 

When our friends told us about the plans for her birthday party I volunteered to make the cake/cupcakes for the event, since I wanted to give the birthday girl something special. I originally thought of just doing a few batches of different cupcakes, but I quickly decided to do something a little more complicated after S told me that she had purchased some adorable owl cupcake topper decorations.

I couldn't get over how cute the owls were and I kept thinking that their simple shape was something I could maybe replicate as a cake! It took a lot of supply gathering and planning, and even more time, but it was such a fun project!

I sketched out an outline similar to the cupcake toppers, and then baked a chocolate sheet cake in a 9X13 pan. I also learned some things about baking a cake that has a flat top. I still had to level my cake so it was flat, but baking the cake submerged a pan of water seemed to help it bake a bit more evenly with less of a dome in the middle. 

After I got the cake baked and leveled. I put it in the freezer for 20-30 minutes. Then I used a template I had sketched to cut out the owl shape. Once the cake was cut, it was a matter of making the frosting. I followed this recipe for swiss meringue buttercream, and while the taste was spot on and exactly what I wanted, but the consistency wasn't what I needed for holding some pipping designs. I ended up having to alter the recipe and throw in some confectioners sugar to stiffen the frosting, but it still turned out decent. It is certainly something I still need to perfected, but I love the flavor of this less-sweet frosting. I had to mix brown, green, and orange in additional to some white frosting to decorate and used like 5-6 different pastry tips for a variety of textures. I also purchased some modeling chocolate to make the feet and eyes, which worked out really well!

So after about ten hours of baking, freezing, cutting, and decorating...I finally ended up with an owl that I was pretty proud of.
Whoooooooots turning two??? (Best. Birthday. Theme. Ever.)

I still can't get over how cute it turned out! It was really fun surprising S and Z with it! It was pretty cute/funny when we decided to have Z blow out the candles and sing happy birthday, she kind of hand a mini meltdown and kind of freaked out about the cake. She didn't want to get anywhere near it! Luckily, once she had a bite of the cake and cupcakes, she was sucking down frosting like a birthday girl should be!

Since the cake was chocolate I wanted to make some cupcakes for flavor variety. 

I made a lemon zested cake with fresh raspberry buttercream. They were a hit! I didn't think the kids would like them, but most of the kids really enjoyed these as well as the adults! The raspberry frosting was probably my best frosting to-date! It was amazingly tasty!

To really take it to a new level, I also wanted to make some mini "cupcake shooters" (as the BF called them) that were just vanilla vanilla and small for little hands! I saw someone used ketchup cups for mini cupcakes, and at our last burger outing, I hoarded a bunch of cups that were put to good use. 

They were just too cute for words! I loved hot little they were, and the fact that people who didn't want a big cupcake, could just have a little taste. These are certainly going to be my new go-to party option!

Overall, I am so excited that I pulled off some great treats for Z's birthday, and I really loved making the owl cake! Now I just need to find the next cake decorating project....

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Modern Christmas

I am attracted to pretty much all things Christmas when it comes to decorating. Growing up, and even now, our house was always decorated very well. My mom always has the inside feeling festive with the main floor of our house full of centerpieces, garlands, nutcrackers and all sorts of festive decor. My dad takes on the outside, and always has one of the classiest and most attractive light displays in the neighborhood. 

See? Classy, AmIright? (This also makes me really miss Theo as he would pee on the reindeer and sometimes almost electrocute himself by aiming for one of the electrical plugs...such a crazy dog)

I don't buy a tree out here in DC. Mainly because I don't stick around for much of the holiday season, and I am sure like anything else here, they are crazy expensive (I also don't do fake trees...I just don't). I do try to bring some festive to my apartment regardless of being sans tree.

Last year I did some ghetto-esque decorations, that certainly not up to standard of my childhood roots, but I guess that is what you get living on a budget in an apartment (and last year I lived in a room, not an apartment, just a single room that functioned as my entire apartment). 

This year, I got a jump start on a few ideas I had for holiday decor. I am currently on the hunt for some sticks so I can attempt to make something similar to this.
Source: Anthro? But Unknown

I also wanted to do something a bit more more visually attractive than the tiny handing ornaments I did last year. After thinking it over for awhile, I decided to try to make some of my own. They are a work in progress, but I have big plans for these.

Stay tuned for the final product!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Job Searching

I went into this most recent job search having a pretty targeted idea of what I wanted to be doing. This made the process much harder, but also a lot easier knowing that I wasn't  hunting for just any job. Knowing generally what it is that you want to be doing is always a plus. I also realized that there were things about work environment, type of company, etc. that also helped direct my job search. I knew that I wanted to go back to the private side of business. My non-profit stint really had been for the experience (oh, and an experience it was!) but not with the long term in mind, and I knew that going in. I wanted to see HR not only from the private side,  but also see how it changed when you worked at a non-profit. I also knew that with DC being only a means to an end as far as my geographical location, I figured I should try out the non-profit world while I was in the thick of it all. Lucky for me, not only did I get the non-profit flavor I was looking for, but I also got to touch on HR related to the public sector as well. These different lenses of business and HR were exactly what I had been hoping to experience. 

All combined, it was good. I had all these different lenses in which to see HR and business from. I felt like I spoke a lot of "languages" after having to bounce between different people and different projects. I knew going back to the private sector now would allow me to do something different. HR is never (or rarely) seen as any sort of profit generator for a company. Now, as an HR person...I totally disagree, but I can also see how this school of thought has been developed and how it will be hard to break away from. I wanted to try my hand in being a piece of an organization that was viewed differently than just overhead. I wanted to offer expertise, insight and knowledge to generate a value to my organization and to other organizations. I loved that idea of working with a variety of clients. Getting to tackle a variety of issues and constantly having to rethink and modify my knowledge to fit their needs.

My job search took awhile. I was picky, focused, and not willing to compromise on what I wanted. I felt like one of those couples on house hunters where the host has to give them the "Your wish is a bit too long" pep talk. But, I am stubborn like no other and I stuck with my laundry list of desires. 

It's not easy, this whole "being an adult" thing. You have to walk a very thin line of what is best and what is necessary. Paying rent and having food in the fridge is important, but doing something that makes you feel like you are growing and is interesting to you, is really important too. Job searching is like anything else. 

It is hard, until it is easier. 

Living in a world where you are constantly inundated with information, status updates, updated titles on linkedin. It is hard to know if you are making the right choices for yourself. Feeling steady on your own two feet can sometimes feel like you are a new born giraffe with splayed legs. 

Like everything, it comes together, and when it does, it feels oh so good. 

So if your looks, thinking about looking, or just started a new job. Remember, it all works out. If you want to take some sorority logic to heart: "Just trust the process" (and remember that writing a good cover letter is going to be the golden approach!). 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Twinkle Toes

I have thought about picking up ballet again for a long time. I even took that one class....forever ago. It has just never been something I could make a priority for a variety of reasons. Luckily, everything falls into place for a reason, and I haven't been the only one thinking about getting back to my dancing roots. My friend Lauren, who was WAY more serious about ballet than I was, wanted to start taking classes again. As we all know, having a buddy always makes it a bit easier to to something and stick with it. 

Lauren and I found a few classes in the area, and ended up settling on the Dance Institute of Washington, since it is in an easily accessible location for both of us, and had a class time that we could both make with our jobs. 

We have attended two classes and I am loving it! It is hard. Like makemefeellikeiveneverdonethisbefore hard. My legs hurt. My feet hurt. I can hardly hold a passe or do a single turn, but it feels good just to think ballet again. I also love having a standing date with a friend. It is really refreshing to do a something that is self centered. It is something that reminds me of someplace besides here. It reminds me of some of the best times of my life, and while we are just struggling to to a simple plie these days-- it is something I look forward to.

I am pretty sure we will stick with it, and possibly pick up another class so we are going twice a week. While I am sure Lauren will graduate to some more advance classes at a different school- I am perfectly content doing the basic and just working on the basics for now. 

Makes me think about other things I did growing up, and how I should get back into them! What would you get back into if you could?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Yogi Tea Wisdom

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Weekend ReCap

  • I got to have lunch and some girl time with one of my favorites on Saturday. We don't get to spend a ton of time together, but our past work experience really cemented our friendship together and whenever we do see each other we laugh until our sides hurt.
  • We got some clothes shopping in, and luckily I had a girlfriend there to talk me into buy a burgundy sweater, rather than the black version, since my closet is starting to look pretty monotone these days! Does anyone else get that? That they gravitate to two or three colors in their closet? Mine are navy, gray and black. Almost everything I own!
  • I picked up some clear glass ornaments, metallic paint and ribbon to attempt homemade silver and gold ornaments. Some gold glitter also found it in my basket...perhaps for the intent to glitter-fy  some sticks for a centerpiece (the BF is cringing at the thought).
  • The BF and I saw Captain Philips later Saturday night, and I loved that there was enough suspense, without it being something that gave me a stomach ache!
  • On the way home, my beloved 18 year old car shut down all systems and required us to have her towed out to Arlington. Luckily, the auto shop I took her to has been great to work with and I am so impressed with how upfront, professional and honest they are about what needs to be done. I should have her back later this week or early this week, but I can say not having my car at my fingertips..well it is strange.
  • Sunday. It was a definition of a lazy Sunday. I was not in a very good mood from the car issue Saturday night. I hate dealing with things like that (talk about not putting on my big girl pants) but it just makes me so overwhelmed. So I watched TV, napped, and spent a very lazy Sunday.

Keep your fingers crossed for me that my car issues will quickly be resolved and  my car will be home soon!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

These Are Some of My Favorite Things

►Apparently these bobby pins will make a huge difference when doing your hair.
►I am thinking these will have to made for some sort of winter get-to-gether.
►Make your own gift bags?!? Amazing! Now just to find the right type of paper and a big enough printer!
►I usually get drawn to a certain craft medium when I see something I just know I have to make. This blanket may having me taking up a new craft here soon.
►Not only do they make beautiful printed paper products, they also made a super great resource for wedding correspondence etiquette.
►Feeling in a funk or irritate by life? This is my new go-to for getting myself out of my head and changing my thoughts into something more productive.
►These amazing libraries make me want to travel, and spend some time browsing the stacks. (Also note that Seattle highlight!)
►I want some of these stamp sets. Namely the city and winter sets!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Temporary Wallpaper

After starting to set up my new "office" I quickly learned how hard it was to redecorate when you have a very bland canvas to work off of. It is almost like all those off white walls are too limitless. I remember when I was picking paint for my studio, how overwhelmed I was with options, and the idea that I had to live with my decision. least for awhile.

Now, I am finding myself in an opposite situation. Knowing that I've made the decision for my time in DC to be winding down, I don't want to do anything too permanent or two expensive since I am doing everything in my power to uproot myself out of DC and don't want to set any roots in, even if just decorating roots.

Paint is too much work, as I can attest from having to prime back the studio when I moved out (I even had to take an unexpected day off work to finish it was such a big job!), and as much as I would love to have a stripped wall again...

I had to think if some other options. Enter temporary wallpaper. Or renters wallpaper. There are some really amazing versions out there that are like big stickers, and can even be removed and relocated, which is amazing. These are certainly not cheap, but truly are the renters dream.

Some of my favorite options that I found: 
The antler paper by chasing paper is hands down my favorite, I would do a wall, room, hallway, ANYTHING, in a heartbeat with that pattern!

These all seem to be some of the easiest to apply and remove, but there is a more mainstream product that seems to get some recognition as well.

Sherwin Williams has a line of " easy change" papers that aren't supposed to destroy your walls when it is time to take it down. Curious to see some of their patterns available (their website really sucks) I headed to a local SW to see what I could find out.
They do have a decent selection of prints. I liked some, but was turned off by most of them. I also found out that there seems to be some water involved in removing the paper...makes me a tad wary. Also, after hearing about the "reasonable" cost, I was a bit surprised to find that they really are not much more affordable in comparison to some more niche brands. Since I went and pilfered through about 20 books of wallpaper designs, I'll share with you some of my favorite so you can decide if it is an option without having to trek out to your own SW.
Loved this one. Simple silver pattern.
This one also really spoke to me. Feminine  but not girls so I think you could get a dude to sign up for it in a bedroom.
Love the color and a geometric. The print was pretty small, so might be best on a smaller wall surface.
This one would was the perfect size for a larger wall, without being too busy.

So if your looking for a [temporary] change in your apartment, these wallpaper options may be just what you need! I am for sure going to be trying this once I am westward and settled into someplace that I really want to be a home.

Has anyone found any other vendors or options for similar products? Or has anyone tried the SW option? I couldn't find a lot of info on anyone who has used it before!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Growing Into Yourself

A strong wave of homesick nausea washed over me this evening as I was walking to the store to pick up a simple dinner for myself. Where it came from, I have no idea. Perhaps, I am still feeling the sadness of knowing my dog is gone (yup still cry when I think about Theo), or just am getting whittled down to a nub of emotion since I haven't been home in almost 9 months. Whatever it is. I am grateful to know I have a plane ticket home. Purchased. In sight. Soon. The trip is short, but I also know it will hopefully be one of many more trips home that I will be able to make after we get some things sorted out here in DC.

It isn't a secret that DC isn't my thing. I write about it a lot. From the weather and nasty girls to teeny tiny apartments and frustrating public transit and a whole host of other things in between, my lack of enthusiasm for DC is pretty readily available. 

A few weeks ago Ben and I (have I mentioned I do have a childhood friend who grew up with me in Idaho and lives like 5 blocks from me in DC!) took a long stroll through the neighborhood with a borrowed dog and just talked. For the first time, I finally was able to articulate what that feeling was about DC. While it comes off as dislike...what I really mean is DISCOMFORT. 

I am uncomfortable in DC. 

Not in a 'getting hit in the head with some one's bag on the bus' or 'it is hot as the Sahara dessert here' uncomfortable, but in a 'this city pushes you' uncomfortable. 

I've learned a lot about myself, about being a professional, about loving someone and being loved, about family and friends, and about life as a big kid. So DC has done me well. It has conditioned me. Run me through the paces. That growth, that is good. It is empowering, but is also exhausting. Just like an medical issue, you can only be uncomfortable for so long before it is in your best interest to find what makes you comfortable. 

It is simple things like not having to be stressed about feeling like I might get ripped off, knowing a good tailor and dry cleaner, not having going to the grocery store being an ordeal, being close to nature (real nature), having the option to own a dog, own a car, own a house (and not go bankrupt in the process), and feeling like you aren't constantly having to fight tooth and nail to prove yourself. People here are accomplished. That pushes you. You work hard, you take certification classes and test, you read up on your industry, in a lot of ways, it makes you be the best professional you can be, because there is no other choice. The scary part....there are 9 million and 1 other people exactly like you in DC. Smart. Accomplished. Passionate. And competing for the jobs, promotions and recognition you are working for. Tiny pond with a bunch of sturgeon swimming around if you ask me. I'm not wishing for an easy road. Just one that is 

This all sounded a lot better on that long walk where Ben and I discussed these things. I might sound whiny, or weak, or entitled. None of which are my intention. DC is a great place to be youthful, curious and ambitious. All of these being traits and qualities I have embraced and will carry with me.  But I am ready for that change of pace.

It may seem weak to be searching for that sense of comfort. To scuttle on out of DC in search of some place that doesn't seem to push me in these uncomfortable ways. I've really struggled with that. I never want to look like I can't hack it, or that I am throwing in the towel. What I have learned, is me saying "this isn't the place for me"  and making plans to go somewhere that is the place for me--simply means I have a deep understanding, appreciation and love of my self. I am ok with this. I am at peace. I don't feel like I am giving up, or not strong enough to handle this. 

I know that I have become strong enough to be me.