Saturday, December 10, 2011

Preparing for Baby aka Little Compton

Remember this?

We had quite a project on our hands.  We had an idea of what we wanted to do.  We were looking for a piece of a furniture called a secretary but of course wanted a great deal and the perfect piece.  It needed to have PLENTY of storage space but also look nice and have somewhat of a compact quality once it was finished.  Eric found something that looked like it would work on craigslist.  While we were out on Black Friday, we went and looked at it in Farmington Hills.  Keep in mind we had a vehicle full of shopping bags to start.  We were in luck!  It was exactly what we had been seeking, however ti needed A LOT of work.  After looking closely at it, we could tell that it had been stored outside at some point and was rather marred and scratched up.  It needed work to say the least, but that was the plan.  It actually fit in the Trailblazer which was perfect.  Otherwise, I am not sure what we would have done.  

Check out the before pics...



In process...



And done!  SUPERB in my opinion!  What an amazing transformation.  


Eric doubted that all of my "stuff" would actually fit within the furniture, but he was happily surprised!  I have my jewelry making supplies and the larger dies for my Sizzix machine on the top shelf.  The second shelf has ink and other stamping supplies, my Creative Memories cutting system and many of my embellishments.  The  third shelf has some of my watercolor painting supplies, ribbons, wood beads, and many, many adhesives/glues.

In the open secretary portion, I have stored my scissors, pens, markers, several punches, more adhesives, and my cutting system mats.  I also store whatever project I am working on inside.  Currently, I am working on scrapbooking our 2010 London/Paris trip and keeping my pregnancy journal updated.  I just finished London!  WOO HOO!!!  


In the lower drawers, I've stored many more supplies. In the first drawer, I have more watercolor painting supplies, my stickers, and lots of punches.


The next drawer has so much glitter (LOVE), and some of my stamps.


This drawer has my paper.  This is the only part of this "system" that I do not love.  I think it is the best solution for now, but it is difficult to get to and go through the paper while you are working on a project.  


The last drawer has the rest of my stamps. 


Using the new spot!  Love it!


As I stated in my earlier blog post, I did do some sorting and reorganizing of my supplies before I started moving in to my new spot.  I have a large bag of fun supplies ready for my sister and her kids!  I think she'll enjoy the mixture of items.  

Check out the room as of right now - quite a transformation.  



The desk is listed on craigslist.  We have had some interest and hope to sell it soon.  The bookshelf will be replaced by the one that Eric is going to make for the baby.  I will have to relocate the scrapbooks and crafting books as well.  I am so excited to see all of the baby furniture Eric will be making for the baby over his Christmas holiday break.  It is a really large undertaking but I have confidence.  He is excited too!






Non-traditional Holiday Baking

When I asked my mom what we could bring to the Holbrook Christmas celebration today, she requested my chocolate chip cookies!  Yum!  I love making them and especially love eating them.  They are cooling and will be ready to package up soon for the trek to my aunt's.  

I used my traditional recipe but instead of all of one kind of chip, used one bag of mini-chocolate chips and a half of a bag of white chocolate chips.  These are usually a hit. :)  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Largest Project of All

Can you even believe that someday in the near future, this will be turned in to a nursery?  I can't!  This is actually looking better.  I am going through things, reorganizing, and reducing.  The bottom line is that it all needs to be taken out of the room.  I have so many craft projects to do before the baby arrives though so it can't all be done quite yet.  Luckily, we have 5 months!  



That white chair is staying in the room.  We bought it for the nursery.  LOVE it.  

Pregnancy Journal

During the early days of being pregnant, I logged SO MANY hours of internet research on all sorts of things.  One thing that kept popping up was the idea of putting together a pregnancy journal.  Stores sell products that you can use but being the slightly crafty girl that I am, I decided to "make my own".  It is quite simple but I love the idea.

I found a very inexpensive journal online to start with.  I used stickers to embellish the front.  I also sprayed an acrylic sealer to help keep the stickers where they need to be.  




I do not plan on typing all of my entries, but I did start this way.  


Detroit Tigers Album Update

I finally found time to scrap our latest Tigers adventure - we visit an away Tigers game each year.  We visited Pittsburgh this year and really enjoyed ourselves.  I limit myself to two pages for each game, which I find difficult.  I like to capture both the game and the city.  


I can't wait to take our little baby to next year's game!!!!  :)  


Monday, July 25, 2011

Bucket List Update

In no particular order:

1.      Travel to London (traveled to London May 2010)
2.      Travel to Paris (traveled to Paris May 2010)
3.      Travel to Australia
4.      Travel to Hawaii
5.      Travel to Alaska
6.      Learn Spanish (enrolled in and attendingSpanish class) 
7.      Go stargazing
8.      Develop craft/creative blog and post regularly (developed in spring 2010)
9.      Go on a road trip with my hubby, Eric, to places we’ve never been (Pittsburgh 2011)
10.  Create my dream home
11.  Start a business with Eric
12.  Go scuba diving and/or snorkeling
13.  Compete in a Triathlon
14.  Swim with dolphins
15.  Volunteer to help children in need (volunteered with Make a Wish in July 2010 but will continue to do so)
16.  Achieve my ideal weight
17.  Run a 10K (possibly the Run Scream Run 10K in October, 2011)
18.  Really learn to golf
19.  Make a positive difference in someone’s life
20.  Plant and grow tomatoes (planted and growing)
21.  Plant and grow a garden (planted and growing)
22.  Visit all of the MLB parks with the hubs (our progress)
23.  Take the SPHR test and pass (at my next recertification)
24.  Become a bit of a minimalist (not sure how far we’ll go yet but definitely want to cut back on owning and buying unnecessary “stuff”)
25. Compile a joint bucket and travel priority list

SheROX Triathlon

A little over a week ago I competed in my first triathlon.  It was grueling to say the least!  I had thought that doing one sounded like a good idea but earlier this spring really thought about it and signed up for one!  A few things that I looked for in my first one were: 1) a .25 mile swim (as opposed to .5 mile which is also common in sprint tris) 2) a women only event and 3) a date that worked.  The SheRox series fit all three requirements.  The event took place on Belle Isle in Detroit.

Due to the fact that I had signed up for a Saturday morning open water swim (OWS) class 6 weeks prior to the event and trained for a little under 8 weeks, I felt ready.  The swim class helped me get over any potential issues I may have had with the swim portion.  I had researched quite a bit of information about triathlon preparations and found that many people struggled with panic and anxiety during the swim portion of the race.

Eric made the early morning trek downtown with me on the morning of the race.  We had been to the site the day before to pick up my packet and listen to a course talk.  Parking wasn't an issue and it was finally really time!  First was the transition area setup.  Your bike is mounted on the bar and you have a small area on the ground to put your other items. I was so thankful to have my best bud, Darci's bike for the event.  Her bike is pretty nice!  I had borrowed it two weeks prior to the event to do a little training with it and get used to the change from my Schwinn.  Looking around, I observed a few useful tips.  I put my bike helmet and sunglasses on the seat. I had already stored my bike water bottle on the bike so it was ready to go.  Next, I laid out my towel (which I wouldn't do again) and put my running shoes, shorts, shirt, hat, and water bottle on top of the towel.  Next time I will put a smaller towel on the ground and keep my larger towel ready to dry off with during the transition time.



Then it was time to head over the swim area.  I went out in to the Detroit River to test the water and get through any jitters I was having.  It was time!!!!!  My wave was second.  There were only 3 - the ovarian cancer survivors, relay teams, and buddy teams were in the first wave.  My wave was the "under 40" wave and then the last one was (obviously) over 40.  Then we were off!  Time to go.  The first part of the swim was odd.  The course ran along the beach and the water was rather shallow.  Therefore many people were trying to walk instead of swim.  This wastes way too much energy.  The course was rather clogged up as a result.  I chose to go off to the side to start swimming and get through the clog.  It worked!  I was actually able to swim at somewhat of a normal pace and get moving.


It was over pretty fast and it was time to enter the transition area.  I took too long but it was my first time.  I used the water bottle to rinse my feet and threw on my running clothes over my swimsuit. Note: after the race I received a tip from another participant.  She said that if you are going to wear your swimsuit through the entire event on a hot day like that day, you can wear a sports bra under your swim suit.  When you are finished swimming, you can pull your suit down around your waste before you put your biking/running shirt on.  I wish I had known this before the event.  Your suit is so tight and not meant to let your skin breathe!  It was so hot and that little bit of exposed area may have helped.  It is definitely useful information for next time.

Next was helmet placement and socks and shoes and off to the bike mounting area!  The course was a double loop which totaled 12.4 miles.  It took me a bit longer than I had hoped.  I had been training at Kensington Metropark and had become used to the hills and "rest" periods that come with going downhill.  This course was flat, flat, flat.  You had to work hard the entire time! :)   I was happy when the bike part was over but then it was time for the run.  I was nervous about this part the most due to the heat!  It was in the mid-80s at 8 a.m. and the humidity was terribly high.  I had decided not to wear the bike shorts and felt it!  I had a hard time working through the transition with my legs and rear end after the biking.  One of my goals for this event was not to walk though and I didn't!  I felt like I was crawling along for a lot of the run course but I really wasn't.  It was miserable - I am not going to lie.

And then....  I saw it - the finish line! I had just run past a very energetic and motivating cheerleader who put a little energy in my run and I couldn't wait to finish!  The finish was amazing as was the entire event.  Participating in this event was unforgettable.  Swimming, biking and running around Belle Isle with the Detroit skyline in my view most of the time was a perfect way to complete my first tri.  Before the event, I thought I might compete in another one two weeks afterwards but decided that I would rather start training for my first 10K and hold off doing another tri until next year.  I think the heat did me in!  I do plan on doing more though.  It was an amazing experience and the training really gets you in to great shape.




My training plan

I had found a pretty good plan online (there are many out there) but ended up adjusting it quite a bit to fit my schedule and strengths and weaknesses.


Week
Mon
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
Sun
1
w/e 5/29




Rest
Rest
Run 35
2
w/e 6/5
Run 35
X
Bike
Run 35
Swim45
Run 30
Strength
Bike 40
OWS
Run 35
Bike 40
Run 20
3
w/e 6/12
Strength
Bike 40
Swim 45
Strength
Bike 50
Bike 25
Run 35
Strength
X
OWS
Run 40
Bike 30
Run 45
4
w/e 6/19
Strength
X
Spinning
Swim 30
Bike 40
Run 15
Strength
Run 35
OWS
Strength X
OWS
Bike 90
5
w/e 6/26
Swim
Spinning
Swim
Strength
Bike 40
Bike 20
Run 40
Strength
X
OWS
Run 45
6
w/e 7/3
Run 40
Rest
Rest
Run 40
Strength
Bike
Run
Run 30
Swim 30
Bike 40
Run 15
7
w/e 7/10
Rest
Strength
Bike 30
X
Swim45
Bike 25
Run 25
Strength X
OWS
Bike 50
Swim 10
8
w/e 7/17
Strength
Run 30
Swim 45
Bike 30
Run 35
Strength
X
Rest
OWS
Triathlon

Notes:

X means cross training.  Most of the time this was the Nautillis Stairclimber (like you see on The Biggest Loser) and the elliptical. If I swam first, that meant that I did the second part of my workout later in the day. 

The red days were days that I was traveling for work.  I had planned to run on the Vegas strip each morning but got a little freaked out after I heard that someone was stabbed two weeks prior doing the same thing.  I only ran on the strip the first day and then used the cardio room at my hotel the second day. 

The rest days (other than the first 2) were not originally in the training plan but were appreciated.

Sir Paul McCartney Concert

We were so excited to have been able to purchase tickets to see Paul McCartney last night! We ended up selling our U2 tix from last year's show that was rescheduled.  I ended up being out of town for the rescheduled date.  We made up for it with this concert.  I took quite a few video clips with my cell phone.  I always have hopes that they are going to be super great but never quite sure what I'll do with them.  :)  When Live and Let Die was performed, it was simply amazing.  They had fire flare up and fireworks fly high in to the sky.  The concert was unforgettable.  Enjoy this concert highlight.

Friday, July 22, 2011

It has been awhile!

It has been awhile but I am back!  I finally found time and energy to work on a few things tonight.  I know it may seen small, but I was able to finish the first two real pages (pages with pictures) of our London/Paris album.  I also worked with my lovely photoshop program after the hubs was so nice to point out that my pictures need a little pizzazz! I am still learning but I attempted to add a border here.  It wasn't a complete success but I am going to go ahead and give myself an "A" for effort because there was a LOT of that.  ;)  

I hope this means that the crafting has started a revival of more projects!  I have to create an autograph book for the Relay for Life again as well as a few jewelry pieces for the same event.  If the heat could just kick the humidity in the butt, life would be a little easier!  

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

SHRM 2011 Conference - VEGAS!

I approached my bosses a few months ago about the opportunity to go to the national Society of Human Resource Management conference in Las Vegas this year.  I was happily a bit surprised when they approved the request.  We were pretty busy in the weeks leading up to the trip so I was in more of a time crunch than I like while packing.  I started with the items I'd need to keep up my training for the triathlon.  The suitcase was pretty much full at that point.  It left me to have to be pretty creative with the remaining items.  Once I was there, I realized that most people took huge bags and checked them.  I, however, was trying to keep my company's cost down as low as possible.   

Before our first speaker of the conference, the Viva Cirque show put on a small preview of their show.  I loved it!  It was the only show that I really wanted to see but wasn't playing when I could go.  :(  This was a nice treat!


Our first speaker was Sir Richard Branson.  He was pretty amazing.  Even though I am on the "no more books diet", I had to buy one of his so that I could meet him, have him sign it, and then read it.  It was worth it!  Having just a couple of  "real" books (other than Kindle books) around the house isn't so bad, is it?  I just need to remember to keep it to just a few!


After attending the Sunday session and then seeing Sir Richard Branson, I ventured out to check out the town.  First I saw this fountain at Ceasars Palace.  It was beautiful, but nothing compares to the real thing!
Same here with the Paris hotel and their version of the Eiffel Tower.  This one didn't have any of the sparkly lights that the real one has at night.


Bellagio's fountains really were "all that".  They were beautiful.  The first time I happened upon them playing, they played Bocelli's Con Te Partiro, which was one of the songs we played at our wedding.  Super cool but made me miss the hubs quite a bit.  Another time I witnessed Viva Las Vegas which I loved as well, being the huge Elvis fan that I am.



I had researched the buffet scene a bit at home before I left and saw that The Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan Hotel was rated well and people raved about the variety.  I decided to check it out.  

Plate #1

 Plate #2

Plate #3 - the one that counts...

Verdict:  I wasn't sure what to think.  It was fabulous but I didn't really have anything to compare it to since this was my first non-conference meal in Vegas.  I later realized that it truly was spectacular!  I loved the dessert bar (shocking, I know) but the other areas were remarkable as well.  

My hotel: The Mirage
The conference had a short list of hotels that they assisted with reservations through.  I looked for a hotel with a gym and free wifi.  This one fit the bill, but was also perfect in so many other ways.  Talking to someone on the conference shuttle, I realized that the pool is really well known and I understand why.  I spent some quality time soaking up the rays and it was a great place to be.  I really felt like I was in the tropics.  It was SUPER hot but the pool helped melt away all of that.  I found that I greatly enjoyed the "dry heat" people talk about.  My skin and hair may not have but overall, I thought it was bearable even thought it was over 100 degrees at all times.  


My mom is a HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE Donny Osmond fan so I made a point to go to the Flamingo and find their Donny swag.  Here I am with his trophy and outfit from Dancing with the Stars.

More research led me to eat at Wolfgang Puck's Pizzeria and Cucina.  I had the "Ricotta Gnocchi, Sausage Bolognese, Italian Parsley".  I loved it!  The restaurant was located in a hotel area called The Crystals which was very close to my next stop...




 Monster.com put on a concert: Natasha Bedingfield.  It was a nice (free) surprise.  This boy band, Mosaic, opened up for her.  She was a superb performer.  I also made some friends from Cali while I was there.  Traveling alone wasn't my favorite way to go but meeting new people comes easy to me.  My new found friends were a bit obsessed with getting these Monsters that Monster had at the bar area.  They each were able to get one.  They asked me quite a few times why I didn't want one.  I informed them of my suitcase issue, but really, what are you going to do with those things?  They were huge!  I had picked up a small one at the expo earlier in the day and it was plenty!


The official entertainment of the conference was a show by Keith Urban.  I had debated going because I was exhausted and it is a bit weird to go to a concert by yourself, right?  However, I reminded myself that I love Keith.  I ended up getting very close which was fun.  He is such a nice and easy going performer.  I saw him in concert a few years ago and he was great then too.  He invited three fans up to compete for the chance to sing a song with him.  They all did a great job and were so happy.  


Since I was tired before I left for the show, heading back was even worse - especially because I was hungry too!  Needless to say, I took the lazy route and ate at the LAME  and overpriced buffet at my hotel.

 This was the only thing that was somewhat notable. 

On my last day, I had time between when the conference ended and my plane left.  I decided to head to the other end of the strip to check out a few things.  First, the Lions at MGM.  Wow.  That guy was literally playing games with the lions.  They were so pretty, but fierce looking!  




New York New York.

Mandalay Bay.  I guess this wine contraption was in a recent season of the Bachelor.  

The Statue of Liberty made out of Jelly Bellys!

My last meal.  I happened upon this restaurant at Paris.  Mon Ami Gabi was delicious.

Remember that heat?  Well, I sat outside to eat.  It was over 100.  The table was on fire where the sun touched but otherwise, it was a nice atmosphere.  The seating was on the strip so people watching was awesome!


My random thoughts about Vegas.First, I loved the conference.  I sold it to my bosses by saying that I needed more continuing ed credits for the maintenance of my PHR certification.  This was true but I also love learning and loved being with 14000 other HR professionals!

I have to admit that I didn't hit every session that I had planned to attend.  Remember that pool?  It was truly amazing.  I was, however, appalled to meet a woman on the elevator who told me that she "always" comes to the national conference and "always" avoids the whole thing!  She just goes to hang out and have fun.  Talk about HR nightmare, but wait, she is HR?  HUH???  

Slot machines in the airport - really?

I can't believe these freaks from Florida complained about the dry heat.  They actually told me that they like the humidity.  They like to sweat.  They are g.r.o.s.s.

People must save for years before visiting. They don't just blow money on gambling, drinking, shows, etc.  There is also loads of very expensive shopping and expensive restaurants.  They literally spend $20K before hitting the tables.  I could think of many other things that I'd rather do with that much money.  To each their own, I guess!



Lastly, I am definitely an independent person and have never had a problem eating alone, etc. but traveling with the hubs is SO much better.  He is the sunshine in my life.