Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mission: Guest Bedroom

My parents are coming to visit in two weeks. The guest bedroom (the sofa is a sleeper sofa), which is actually more office-sized, as my roommate occupies the second bedroom in the house, currently looks like this:

I know, right?

So besides giving those ceiling fans a ride to Salvation Army and putting a lot of that stuff back in the closet (which is strategically packed to the brim with old college stuff I have yet to go through - (sad, yes) - luggage, and Christmas decorations), the room needs some character. I'm currently sitting on a gallon of paint called "Silver Drop" - it was supposed to grace my bedroom walls, but I ended up going a different direction and I don't want to waste it. So here's the mood board I put together for the guest bedroom:

1. Silver Drop from Behr - I already own this...the rest of the paint colors are just to give you a feel for what I am going for in the room

2. Jumping on the chevron pattern fabric bandwagon ... I think I am going to go with wider chevron stripes (similar to this, but not as wide, I'll find a happy medium), andI found several online tutorials for how to paint your own chevron curtains (I plan to use some plain white grommet curtains from IKEA)

3. Throw pillows from CB2...I have a gift card from a returned purchased...definitely could come in handy...and I'm loving the question mark's called "huh?" :)

4. These are actually counterstools on Overstock, but I thought they would make great end tables/nightstands on either side of the couch.

5. Frames from Pier 1 (I already own these, thanks to a gift card :) ) - I think I will put yellow flowers in the center

6. These lamps are on sale at West Elm right now...I think I might just go ahead and buy them, since they are SUPER on sale.

7. Not pictured, but I want to get a white couch cover for the sleeper sofa...otherwise, ick, major color clash!

We'll see how far I get in two weeks...stay tuned...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Recent literary delights

I just finished another trio of reads. Starting with my favorite of the trio:

Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand

I finally got my hands on a copy of the book and pretty much devoured the thing when I flew to San Francisco. THIS BOOK IS AMAZING. First off, I am a huge fan of Lauren Hillenbrand. Her "Seabiscuit" was absolutely fantastic and I had no interest in horse-racing whatsoever when I picked it up...I still don't really, but she made me appreciate it, I wasn't bored, and felt I "grew" from reading it. "Unbroken" is non-fiction, a true account of Olympic runner, Louie Zamperini, and his experience in WWII. Louie was a bombardier on a B-24 Liberator that crashed into the ocean. He survives for over 40 days in a rubber raft, in which in and his surviving comrades float thousands of miles into Japanese territory. He's captured and spends time in several Japanese POW camps. I write this all mater-of-factly, but Ms. Hillenbrand pulls you into what Louie is smell the gasoline and the alkaline smell of salt water, you feel the stillness and the chaos that Louie describes...I was a bit afraid I was going to fall asleep that evening and dream of war (I didn't, thankfully, but that is truly how vividly this story is told).

I won't lie, there are some tough parts in this book. We are talking about war and POW experiences after all...they are hard, horrific, and staggering, and my mind can't wrap itself around the cruelty that humans are capable of. However, this book (I am getting goosebumps as I type this) centers around the resiliency of human life, overcoming the odds, determination, focus, and finding the good in the small things, when all else seems lost. It is an amazing work of writing and I didn't want the book to end. Lauren Hillenbrand brings history to life on the pages - I am now so much better versed in the Pacific aspect of WWII and I feel like I actually know some of the soldiers that fought in it. Well done Ms. Hillenbrand, well done. 47 thumbs up on this one.

Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret - by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Hudson

Hudson Taylor was one of the first Christian missionaries to enter central China and this book is his autobiography, written by his son. I had heard Mr. Taylor's name referenced on several occasions, but was not familiar with the work that he did. I was astounded reading about the trust Mr. Taylor showed in God through severe trials. He truly left everything to the Lord. As a believer, who trusts her life to God and seeks to honor and give Him glory in everything she does, I still struggle with trying to take back control of certain areas of my life, rather than handing it over to God and letting Him lead's a daily battle. Mr. Taylor had an amazing capacity for looking at an issue, trusting it to God's sovereignty, and then praying for direction and guidance, and moving forward, rather than stewing or being anxious.

One excerpt that particularly challenged me was the following:

"Take time. Give God time to reveal Himself to you. Give yourself time to be silent and quiet before Him, waiting to receive, through the Spirit, the assurance of His presence with you, His power working in you. Take time to read His Word as in His presence, that from it you may know what He asks of you and what He promises you. Let the Word create around you, create within you a holy atmosphere, a holy heavenly light, in which your soul will be refreshed and strengthened for the work of daily life"

Very convicted on being still before God and waiting on Him. Very good read.

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

This is a fiction work that tells the story of twin brothers growing up in Ethiopia and the chain of events that start from before they are born that shape their lives and paths decades later. Truly well written, Mr. Verghese characters are so real that I had to remember that this was a work of fiction, not non-fiction. I appreciated how Mr. Verghese intertwined the fictional lives of the characters with real historical events and issues that took place in Ethiopia - historical events and issues that here in America, we glance at in the news, or realize we never even heard about it and I now have a new appreciation and understanding of the struggles of other nations. The only aspect about this book that I didn't like was the sensuality. I really don't want to read about the thoughts 13 and 14 year old boys have about women. I know it happens, and Mr. Verghese was making his characters real...I just don't want to read about it, and that's just me. The writing style, flow, plot development and characters were all phenomenally well done.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

San Francisco - Final post - Boats and crab

I also really like boats...I've read a lot of books that take place on clippers and schooners and stuff like that and love the history behind these beauties. We took a tour of this schooner that was in service for 50 years! From sailing around South America to England, to Australia for lumber shipping, and to Alaska for a salmon cannery, this boat has some great history and once again I was blown away by the excellence of the displays, information, and videos. National Parks Service rocks!

The schooner, Balclutha

View from Balclutha

Oh, it's NOT naptime?

A mockup of supplies in the middeck hold thingy place (yeah...that's nautical terminology for you...)

I'm a natural, dontcha think? :)

I was told I couldn't come to San Francisco and not partake in a Dungeness Crab who am I to argue with San Franciscan expectations?

Dinner: before

Dinner: After

It was so incredibly tasty! And we wrapped up dinner by swinging by Ghirardelli's again, where I got a caramel-sea salt hot chocolate...and then preceded to enter a sugar -I never-want-to-eat-chocolate-again-coma after drinking only HALF of a SMALL size. I never thought I would be bested by chocolate ::hangs head::

As you can see, it was a FUN trip and I really enjoyed the city. Hope I get a chance to visit again and see more of the sites/museums/theaters.

San Francisco - Part 3, Aquarium, Fisherman's Wharf, GHIRARDELLI'S!!!!

We pretty much spent part of every day somewhere on the Wharf, but here are some actual pictures...

Tima's sister, Katrina, her aunt, and her mom excited for the Aquarium

Beautiful jellyfish

More jellyfish...totally unrelated to the jellyfish in the aquarium, I recently ate a raw jellyfish as part of a scavenger hunt "Survivor-esque" gross food eating challenge. It was...different.

Fisherman's Wharf

Lunch from the walkabouts...2/3 meals per day were seafood. Pretty sure I've hit my mercury limits for the year :). SOOO worth it.

Source of my shrimp cocktail

Seriously folks, this was the highlight of the trip for me. I LOVE GHIRARDELLI CHOCOLATE. Especially their dark chocolate peppermint bark that comes out during the holidays (hint hint to anyone reading this blog who sees me around the holidays...just sayin')

I think this picture is missing something...shouldn't there be an Oompa-Loompa standing around stirring?

San Francisco part 2 - Alcatraz and Lombard Street

Of course, Alcatraz was a must-touristy-thing-to-do for our trip, so after Golden Gate Park, we hopped on the boat for Alcatraz

Bay Bridge from the back of the boat

The city


Father and son bonding jail...

Not quite a 5-star hotel...

Checking out solitary confinement. The audio tour they have set up is very impressive. It was informative, not boring, and the perfect length. Well done National Park people.

The view from Alcatraz to the shore...roughly the end point for the Alcatraz Triathlon (different from the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon since you don't have to qualify for it, anyone can sign up). You jump off the back of a ferry at Alcatraz and swim to shore for the swim portion of the tri. I hope to swim this some day...and not drown...or panic...or freeze...or get eaten by a shark ( I KNOW they are there, despite what marine biologists might say).

Driving down Lombard street. Crazy amount of tourists here...and it was 8 in the morning! There was no way to get a really good shot without getting out of the car (not an option at the time) so I bought a old postcard apparently based on the circa 1985 cars driving down Lombard :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

San Francisco Part 1 - Sonoma and Golden Gate Park

A year ago, my best friend and her hubby visited me and we decided that we should take a trip to San Francisco...a year later, with their 9 month old cutie, Aiden, her Mom, aunt, and sister, we ACTUALLY took the trip (seriously, how many times have you told someone "oh we should really do this/that and nothing comes of it? So thankful this worked out).

It was a great, albeit short, trip. I am too lazy to create an album, so enjoy scrolling :)

It was an orange streetcar...of COURSE I took a picture.

Inside the Ferry Building

Pics of the Farmer's Market inside the Ferry Building ( I love how funky Heritage tomatoes look)

This sign just made me laugh. Way to just tell it like it is :)

Part of the Bay Bridge as we waited for our Wine Country Tour shuttle

We drove over the Golden Gate Bridge and stopped for a brief (very brief) photo op...only day the fog cleared to see the top of the bridge.

First official wine-tasting experience in Sonoma

Aiden was a trooper the entire trip, I was amazed by how well he handled all the time in his carseat/stroller

Although, sometimes, you just gotta play in the grass!

Oldest vineyard in Sonoma

Hello foggy San Franciscan hills

Palace of Fine Arts - leftover from the 1915 Exposition (kinda like a World's Fair...after reading about the Chicago World's Fair, I've become a bit nerdy regarding Fairs of these type...I love how intricate the buildings are - amazing that this was built for a FAIR. )

Bundled up to enjoy the Children's Park at Golden Gate Park.

I HAD to take a picture of this. I am a huge fan of Doctor Who and fortunately, so is Tima's husband, Mark, so he joined in my enthusiasm for finding this "police box" in the park. Tima patiently waited while Mark and I took several shots of this. Yes, we are true fans :)