Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Crafty Bitch: Baby {Bow} Makin'

My crafting has really taken a back seat lately. Since busy season ended (well, kind of) for my hubby, I've been busier in the evenings and on weekends so haven't had the chance to do much. With all my Pinterest-ing, I've started quite the list of DIY-ing and seen tons of cute inspiration photos.

So when I started shopping for a baby gift for our dear friends who are having a baby girl, of course I had to DIY something! First, I googled how to make a baby flower headband and some crazy lady is trying to charge money for directions on how to make them. Seriously? I'll just figure it out myself, woman.

I took some inspiration from my DIY rosette pillow to make the headband. If you care how, read below. If not, scroll down for photos!

First, I made the rosettes (I made four). I included directions on how to make those here, but basically just cut a strip of fabric (1.5-2 inches wide), iron in half (hotdog, not hamburger - that's width, but length for all you smarties), then tie a knot at the very end. Start wrapping the material around the knot and glue down onto your interfacing (or if you're handy like me, a used dryer sheet). Use hot glue every little bit until the rosette is as big as you like. Cut interfacing off around the edges and there you have it.

Then, I decided how I wanted to arrange the rosettes and hot-glued them onto a piece of felt (to connect them all) and then took a smaller piece of felt to glue it on to the baby headband I found.

And because I've been SO inspired by such cute wrapping ideas lately, I thought I'd fancy up the wrapping! So fun!

Normally, I don't spend this much time or effort, but it's fun to do for such wonderful friends!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Painting With a Twist(er)

Over a year ago, me and some of my Dallas friends bought a Groupon to do this BYOB (say no more, count me in!) painting class. Well, it has LONG expired, but this week, me and a few of my pals finally went to the class, Painting With a Twist.

First, let's start at square one. Please excuse terrible quality photos taken from Blackberry.
The players:

The attempted painting:

The painting we were all set to paint (above) was really cute, super-romantic and totally my style.

And we were off! The teacher took us step-by-step on how to paint.

Turns out, ummmm, painting does take SOME talent.

There was much concentrating, evaluating and looking over my neighbor's shoulder to see what hers looked like, much like the stress experienced during the yellow-and-gray rosette pillow project.

It was all going fairly well until we had to take cover.

Let me back up quickly. What I failed to mention is that weather in DFW had been a little iffy all day. If you're in the Midwest at all, you know there have been tornado watches, tornado warnings, heavy thunderstorms, etc. Meteorologists had been throwing out terms like "strong rotation" and "golf-ball size hail."

My gut was saying no, it's not worth the risk of getting stuck 20 miles away, but the other side of me had been looking forward to it all day. So of course I went.

So, about an hour into the class it started raining. Then came the hail (eek, my poor car!). Finally, we actually went to take cover because there were tornadoes in the area (paintbrush and all). Scary.

After the class was over, I was rushing to get home and of course, got caught in the brunt of the storm and had to pull over, but eventually made it home. And look what I had to show my proud hubby!

He was impressed. Or at least he acted like he was.

And there you have it. Painting with a Twist(er). See what I did there? Clever.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Birthday, Birthday!

Well I’ve successfully completed the first quarter of a century of my life and am now embarking on my 26th year of life. I really thought 26 would feel much different than it does.

When I was in college, the idea of being 23 overwhelmed me. So. Old. Then, when I actually was 23, I began to think 26 was the new old. Age 25 felt cool; young, hip, but old enough to be responsible, but still… you know, with it. But now that I’m 26, I still feel young, energetic and I think I’m in better shape and have more energy now than I was 5 years ago!

Here are some things I didn’t expect:
• Still a crier – If you know me AT ALL, you know that while I’m pretty normal, I can be very sensitive to certain things. One minute I’m fine, the next minute I’m bawling because the Sarah Maclachlan “In the Arms of an Angel” ASPCA commercial is on (and I’m not even a pet person). Things that will generally make me cry include uncomfortable situations (included but not limited to the workplace), “inspiring” TV (this includes shows like Biggest Loser or ANY of the Oprah “Farewell” commercials), sentimental moments (hello wedding day!), things that are sad (there was recently a segment on TV about senior citizens having to resort to food banks and it was over for me), etc. I honestly thought I would grow out of this, but (*sigh*, ask my husband or even my previous boss) I haven’t.
• The Eff Word – I sort of love it. I definitely keep it in control (especially on my blog, online, in the workplace, etc.), but I have really grown to love the eff word. I wouldn’t say I’ve never been someone who swears a lot, but I’ve really grown to love this word (bad as it may be!). I thought when you became a grown-up, you stopped behavior like this, but no indeed. I intend to keep it as part of my vernacular until I have a baby and am forced to “clean it up.”
• Still scared of my shadow – When I was little, I used to be a bit of a scaredy cat. It probably didn’t help that my sister used to turn to me right before we went to sleep with a dead-serious face and tell me she was an alien. (You’re a terrible person for doing that, H). But moving past that, I really thought I would outgrow being scared. That hasn’t happened yet. I’m scared of staying the night alone. I’m scared of someone breaking in. If I’m locked up tighter than Fort Knox, I’m scared a ghost will come. I mean, really. You name it, I’m probably scared of it. I’m sure the next 25 years will toughen me up a little.

So cheers to the next phase of my life, which I hope will, no doubt, bring as much fun and adventure as the first part.

And here are some pictures from a really fun birthday/pledge class reunion weekend!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Party of One

One thing I’ve never been able to understand is dining alone. I worked at a restaurant during the summer months in high school/early college (shout out to Cheddars!) and I used to get SO SAD when someone came in alone. One time, an older man (probably in his seventies) came in and asked for a table for one and I’m pretty sure I ran to the bathroom to have a good cry about it after he was seated.

I used to think, “Who are all of these lonely people and why don’t they have anyone to meet them for a meal?” *As single tear rolls down one cheek a la the 1980s Indian Man “Do Not Litter” commercial.*

Well I think I have a partial answer. Um, they’re traveling on business, idiot. This week, I took my first trip for my new job. The weekend before I left I began quizzing the hubby (who travels somewhat frequently for work), “Where do you eat at night?” “Do you go alone?!” “Where do you sit?” He just looked at me ½ confused, ½ amused and said “Uh, yeah, I just go to a restaurant and eat alone. It’s really not a big deal.”

You know those people who are like “Oh I would totally go to a movie by myself” or “I enjoy quiet time, I’ve totally ate alone in a restaurant before. It’s freeing!”? I am NOT one of those people.

It’s sort of a fear of mine, really. And I’m proud to say that this week, I overcame my fear! It was an Olive Garden and I sat alone at the bar. (Yes, it was as sad as it sounds.) Today, I even took it a step further and sat on the patio of a Smashburger ALONE. I’ll admit, a few people did look at me weird, but I made it through!

What an appropriate way to finish out my 25th year of life (The Big 2-6 is Friday, mind you!).

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Lauren and the Amazing Multi-Color Bedroom

I’m excited that we have finally started the process of re-doing our guest bedroom. I have to be honest, though; it’s really gotten off to a rocky start.

If you own a home or have ever undertaken a DIY project, it’s no secret that a run or two to Lowe’s or Home Depot is certainly in order. Or if you’re us, make that FIVE trips. That’s a five.

Since this is the third room in our home that we’ve painted ourselves, we felt like we pretty much had it under control by this point. We didn’t rush, leaving time to think about paint colors. We purchased samples and painted them on the wall and let it sit for about 48 hours so we could see what the color looked like in all different lights (natural daylight, overhead light at night, etc.). I would highly suggest this technique. (This was our problem with the TMNT Secret of the Ooze bathroom paint color.)

We both were on-board with the color selection and on Saturday morning, we got to it. (This was after two trips, once where we forgot the paint sample color, the second time after we’d run home for it. Woops, my bad.)

The room isn’t huge (like our master bedroom and bathroom projects were) so we thought one gallon of paint would be plenty. Mistake number one. We got through the first coat and realized, oh yes, we would definitely need an extra quart. So the hubby went to Lowe’s Sunday morning. No big deal.

Then, we quickly realize (lots of cussing involved) that we need another quart. Fine. So I run to the store to pick-up yet another quart. Except that when I got home and proceeded to paint it on, it looked like a different color. Like an entirely different shade of gray! I kept painting because the same paint color often looks different when it’s wet versus dry. We let it dry and realized (holy eff) that it is in fact two different shades. See?!

So Greg angrily (and rightly so!) stormed off to Lowe’s (making that trip number five) to have them fix the problem and replace the paint with the appropriate color. Luckily, it’s only messed up on two sides, but it’s pretty noticeable. (Note: Lowe's made it right.) So, it’s a little anti-climatic, but here’s the “good side” of the room and ultimately what it will look like.

Let me share our lessons learned. If you plan on doing two coats of paint in a room (and we always do!), buy at least two gallons of paint no matter the size. Overbuy on painter’s tape, rollers and edger pads. You’ll always need more than you think.

We’ll share pics when we finally finish painting and I can get some d├ęcor in the room. I’ve got quite an inspiration board going on Pinterest. But it’ll have to wait.

For now, I’m posted in San Antonio this week for work. Have a great week!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Rumble in the 'Hood: Round Two

I told you a few weeks ago about all the work and improvement we've done to our yard recently. We were feeling really good about it until yesterday. I went on a quick jog around the neighborhood and on the way inside, I checked the mail. Normal stuff: bills, junk mail, etc. Then, I saw an all-too-familiar post card. I tried to stay positive thinking, "Oh, maybe they're about to open the pool and they want to keep us updated." I mean it's totally that time of year, right?! (Um, no.) Apparently, we have an issue in our yard that the HOA feels the need to inform us of. Again.

According to the post card, "We are sure it's just an oversight, but on 5/4/2011, we noticed - tree branches should be 6-8 feet above walkways." They then thanked me for my cooperation in addressing this matter.

*And cue the Rocky theme song music*

I automatically started feeling VERY defensive. I feel as though someone just told me I was a bad mother. (I don't know what else to compare this feeling to.)

Note: This photo was taken two weeks ago and I think our trees look fine! Certainly not worth being called out.

If you know me at all, you'll KNOW why this bothers me. I'm a rule-follower. I sit in the front of the class and ask good questions. I do NOT get in trouble.

So, on one hand, I think it's really nice that the HOA exists so we don't have neighbors with 3 foot tall grass and out-of-control yards. On the other hand, I have a VERY strong urge to find out the address of "Cindy" the "HOA Compliance Coordinator" and TP her house on Friday night give her a visit to calmly discuss the issue. I've also considered giving ole Cindy a call and letting her know that we'll take care of our tree branches when she decides to open the pool.

I mean, come on. We've got Pretty Woman living next door with God knows who visiting at all hours. She also has different shades of mulch. (No that's not a naughty phrase. If it is, I don't know what it means.) She literally has two shades of mulch in her yard. She had a light, normal shade of mulch and then it looks like she started to lay BLACK mulch down but then stopped. So she literally has part black, part light brown. It looks terrible. Yet we're being called out for our tree limbs?

Cindy, you've messed with the wrong gal. I need a tan and I'm pissed (said, of course, while snapping fingers in a Z formation).

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Crazy Neighbor Edition: The Pink Bandit

I've mentioned in a previous blog post that we've got a weird neighbor situation happening over here. I'll preface this by saying I wouldn't even consider blogging about this topic except that I know absolutely no one in my neighborhood.

Here goes: On one-side we have a neighbor, an older woman that lives alone. She's a bit of a nosey neighbor and has made a point to let us know that she knows EVERYTHING going on in the neighborhood. This includes things like one neighbors' parents coming to visit (apparently she approached them thinking they were breaking in) and another neighbor's divorce. While she does like to make under-handed comments about the state of our yard, she's pretty harmless. The real issue is on the OTHER side of us.

So, a few months ago (after the home being on-the-market for MONTHS) we had new neighbors move in. They were a middle-aged couple and seemed to be making some major renovations, so we were pretty excited. Then, one weekend there were moving trucks - and they were gone. No "for sale" signs, nothing. Just gone. Then, a week later someone else moved in. A middle-aged woman and her teenage daughter.

We met them briefly and the woman seemed harmless (and I'm sure she is), but there is some shady bidness happening over there... She doesn't seem to have a normal job and she dresses a little, um, provocatively. She also seems to have a "sugar daddy" that comes to visit about once or twice per week in his fancy luxury car. Today, there was a mysterious man who had his motorcycle parked out front. We were lucky enough to catch sight of him leaving, dressed in a leather vest with a tank top underneath, tight black jeans and - yes a bandana around his forehead. Hm. I've also seen other unexplained cars there.

Then, we saw her later in the afternoon. Greg, like the wonderful husband he is, was out doing yard work when he suddenly busts through the front door doing only what I could describe as skip-walking saying "You gotta get out here. You gotta come out here and see this. Think of a reason to come to the front yard. You gotta see this. Hurry. Watering can!" And then he was gone.

So of course I run to throw on shoes, grab the watering can (note that I only fill it with about two cups of water) and run outside. So there I am fake watering our plants and I see her in all her glory. Our neighbor is mowing her yard in (deep breath) a hot pink sports bra, super-short jorts, pink cowboy boots and (breathe, just breathe) a pink bandana tied around her face (thus the bandit). She looked like a pink vision out there. She even had on pink underwear, which Greg noted were pulled high enough so you could see them above her jorts. Klassy touch, pink bandit, klassy touch.

Of course, I HAD to creepily snap a pic with my phone (though I'm disappointed to say it didn't turn out well).

In the end, is it possible that she has a normal job? Oh, yes. Is it possible she has multiple innocent male visitors? Quite.

But come on, this shiz is weird. I will continue to closely monitor the situation and keep you updated of any developments. Stand by.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Very, very Pinteresting

I'm certainly not the first person to blog about Pinterest. I had it on my blog to-do list when my pal Emily beat me to the punch this week. (Super-cute blog, if you don't already follow). My blog "friends" from Young House Love (and by "friends" I mean they tweeted me once so I consider us friends) introduced me to Pinterest about two months ago. I put it on my to-do list (see a trend, here?) and I finally just got on-board. Between Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, e-mail and... oh I don't know, MY REAL LIFE, I just didn't think I'd be interested, but I've got to tell you, I'm sort of in love.

Think of Pinterest like a virtual pin board. I way to organize and share images - even create collections of things you like or "follow." (If only this existed when I was planning a wedding... If only.) The best part, you can follow others with similar taste and "re-pin" their images/collections. So this is a dream as I decorate my home! I currently have a board for my guest bedroom that I'm starting to re-do this month. (By the way, you can follow me - I'm laurenbbenson.)

If anyone wants an invitation to Pinterest, let me know! Yes, it's invitation-only (said in my most pretentious voice - I'm a douche). Only if it's of pinterest, though... (ba-dum-ching.)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Things That Go Bump in the Night

I've always been a bit of a scaredy cat. When I pass someone in a parking lot, I'm convinced 75% of people are about to kidnap me. I carry my keys in my fist so that if someone attacks me I can jab them in the eyeball with my keys (a little trick I learned from mah girl, Oprah).

Even though my neighborhood is simply lovely (aside from the creepy neighbor - another blog post for another day) and I feel perfectly safe, I still revert back to my old ways of being afraid for no reason every once in a while. There are thousands of homes in my cute little suburb that are much fancier than ours - why would a criminal choose ours? Besides, our house is alarm-enabled. Furthermore, Frisco has a crazy low crime rate. How do I know this? Um, OBVIOUSLY I'm a freak and I check the crime reports in my neighborhood on, like, a quarterly basis. These are the thoughts that run through my head when I get a little bit afraid.

One night, I practically convinced myself that someone broke into our garage. When the hubby asked why I didn't wake him up to go check, I told him I was only about 65% sure and he had a long day at work the next day... Of course, when we went out to the garage the next day, everything was as it should be.

So fast forward to this week. Greg's company is putting him up at a hotel in Dallas this week for a work function, which means I've been staying alone. But for some odd reason, I really haven't been that scared. It could have been the nights filled catching up on non-scary TV (like five DVR'd Oprah), it could have been the home alarm and locking myself in the bedroom to sleep, it could have been the old towel bar I have by my bed to knock someone out if they were to break in. My guess is that it's a combination. Maybe I'm just finally being a grown-up.

I hope I'm not the only 'fraidy cat out there. Excited for my hubby to get home tomorrow, though!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Wedding Season

Well, Happy May everyone! This month brings... what? Spring flowers? Allergies? Yes, but for us each year, this month formally starts WEDDING SEASON.

"What do you like better, Christmas or Wedding Season?"

"Yes. The answer would be, um, Wedding Season."

Since we attended our first wedding of the year this past weekend (no, this does not include the Royal Wedding that I DVR'd...), I've started to notice how my attending of weddings has evolved over the years. When I first graduated college, I would attend a wedding and cry my way through the ceremony (staring ever-so-longingly at the beautiful bride). I would then party my way through the reception (that hasn't changed much).

Now, as someone who's been married somewhat recently (a little over 2 1/2 years ago), I attend weddings in a whole different light. I ask my fellow pew-mates if the bride and groom have seen each other yet, I take note of the programs (those take work!), I get butterflies for the bride, I notice the centerpieces and chair covers - all the little things that make the day special but in the end, really don't matter. It also makes me super-sentimental in a mildly obnoxious way. I noticed it this weekend.

"Oh my gosh, you guys, they chose the EXACT SAME music for the parents entrance, the bridesmaids AND the bridal entrance as we did!" I excitedly exclaim. (I know it's SHOCKING that someone else also chose Canon in D and the Bridal March. So unique, right?) Later in a conversation, I'm talking with a friend who's getting married and I found myself saying "Oh yeah, well in OUR wedding, we did this... or that.." Really? Way to make it about yourself, Benson. Pull. It. Together.

I just think about our wedding day and get so sentimental as I see other people have their special days. (As I'm sure every somewhat new bride does...) In keeping with the trend of the past few years, we'll be attending quite a few weddings this summer so we'll have the opportunity to celebrate with friends and (in a small way) relive our own special day!

And because I'm just SO sentimental...

Happy May!