Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Because re-decorating your computer's desktop is absolutely free ...

Although I spied a fully lit Christmas tree in the window of a neighbor on November 1st, I did not fall prey to the early decorator's logic. We are waiting until this weekend to re-construct our Craigslisted tree and pull out all of our fun holiday decor, including Joe's all-time favorite trinket: the Hogwart's Express. In the meantime, because today is December 1st, I think it's time to refresh my computer desktop. Here are a few festive wallpapers from my favorite resource, Yoshihiro Moritake's Sketchbook.

I added the December calendar to the last one for my own desktop. Find the full resolution images with the following links:


Thursday, November 12, 2009

I am thankful for ...

... free printable Thanksgiving place cards!
Right now, Vale Design has free downloads of these adorable flat and place cards to make your Thanksgiving table both pretty and personal.

So cute, right?

I think this will be a great compliment to our family tradition of passing around a jar of kernels of corn and taking one out as we explain each thing we are thankful for.

Do you have any Thanksgiving family traditions?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Photographic Animal Kingdom Amazingness

This morning, I am totally wowed by this extraordinary photographer, Nick Brandt, and his fine art images of wildlife in East Africa.
Is it love or loathing?
Look at those incredible and tattered ears.
These giraffes are battling, but to me this photo is pure romance.

Brandt published a book of his work a few years ago called On This Earth: Photographs from East Africa .

He also put out a brand new book just last month called A Shadow Falls. I think it would make a fantastic Christmas gift for the animal lover, photographer, or traveler in your life.

Aren't the earth and all of its creatures so amazing? Almost as impressive as God's handiwork is the talent of a photographer daring enough to capture it up close and personal.

Check out this excerpt from Brandt's bio:
Few photographers have ever considered the photography of wild animals, as distinctly opposed to the genre of Wildlife Photography, as an art form. The emphasis has generally been on capturing the drama of wild animals IN ACTION, on capturing that dramatic single moment, as opposed to simply animals in the state of being.

I’ve always thought this something of a wasted opportunity. The wild animals of Africa lend themselves to photographs that extend aesthetically beyond the norm of 35mm-color telephoto wildlife photography. And so it is, that in my own way, I would like to yank the subject matter of wildlife into the arena of fine art photography. To take photographs that transcend what has been a largely documentative genre.

Aside from using certain impractical photographic techniques, there’s one thing I do whilst shooting that I believe makes a big difference :
I get extremely close to these very wild animals, often within a few feet of them. I don’t use telephoto lenses. This is because I want to see as much of the sky and landscape as possible--to see the animals within the context of their environment. That way, the photos become as much about the atmosphere of the place as the animals. And being that close to the animals, I get a real sense of intimate connection to them, to the specific animal in front of me. Sometimes a deliberate feeling that they’re almost presenting themselves for a studio portrait.

Why the animals of Africa in particular? And more particularly still, East Africa?
There is perhaps something more profoundly iconic, mythical, mythological even, about the animals of East Africa, as opposed to say, the Arctic or South America. There is also something deeply, emotionally stirring and affecting about the plains of Africa – the vast green rolling plains punctuated by the graphically perfect acacia trees.

My images are unashamedly idyllic and romantic, a kind of enchanted Africa.

I couldn't agree more.

All photos via.

Friday, November 6, 2009

How you say in English ...

Do you remember that episode of The Office where Michael goes on a business trip to Canada? While talking to Concierge Marie, (played by an actor I saw at Groundlings a couple of years ago) he prefaces his questions with: "How you say in English?"

It was pure genius.


Well, according to this list of the 100 Most Often Mispronounced Words and Phrases in English , I may need to be asking myself that very same question. While some of the mispronunciations are downright silly (although we've all heard them before -- aks, probly, bidness), a few caught me off guard.
For instance, I never knew that when I said "chomp," what I really meant to say all along was "champ," of course.

I wonder what those pernickety Sargento people would make of this one. More importantly, where and when did we pick up that extra S?

Here's one you may not say aloud too often, but at least now you can pronounce it correctly in your head when reading.

My friend Stephanie from Aisle with Style made a convert out of me concerning the pronunciation of this word for the yummy summer treat.

Sneaked is one of those past participles that just doesn't sound quite right, but it is. My guess is that the sound of stuck has well, stuck with most people.

While the majority probably doesn't worry too much about their pronunciation on a day-to-day basis, it really does influence the evolution of our language and it can impact others' perceptions of your intelligence.

Hop over to the list to see if there are any that you find surprising.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mr. Picassohead is the new Mr. Potatohead

Growing up, I adored Mr. Potatohead (and his wife, Mrs. Potatohead, of course). I didn't understand the kids who placed the lips in an eye hole or his nose where the mouth belongs. I always put the pieces in the right places. And yes, I even colored inside the lines (thank you, social norms). It is probably no surprise that Picasso is not my favorite artist — I'm more of a bread-and-butter impressionist lover — but after playing around with this web site a bit, I can see why he enjoyed it so much.

What do you think? I think her name should be Mrs. Duvall.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Rain on the brain

The grey, drizzling skies that we have had over the past few days are really reminding me of Belgium so I decided to put together a collection of some of my favorite things.
The Grand Place, of course.

Pita street! Pita Yasmina is my personal favorite.

Drug Opera ...
... where I can have one of these... (A lait russe)

This is the Wellington Church in downtown Waterloo. I sang there a few times with choir.

I ate at La Pomme for many a sports team dinner. I always drank the fizzy Lipton tea in a can. Why don't they have that here?

This is Beersel castle and it is really close to where I grew up. We watched fireworks from across the moat on a few Belgian Independence days (July 21st). I'm hoping to take Joe there very soon!

This charming little chateau is near where I grew up as well. It sits on a huge park where we went on paddle boats and visited the petting zoo as children.

Delicious, beautiful waffle bliss. They're called "gaufres" by the francophones, or "gophers" by tourists. I can almost taste their buttery perfection. I'd better start the diet and exercise regimen ASAP.

Monday, October 12, 2009


I found a new reason that the Internet is one of my favorite things. Check out my friend Natalie's amazing re-make of Single Ladies. It's so much better than the original regardless of what Kanye West thinks.

We were in church youth group together in Belgium, and now she's Internet-famous. Isn't she adorable?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Farewell summer. I hardly knew you.

The rain continues to pour over Washington and it only seems appropriate on September 11. But I can't help but feel that summer zoomed by way too quickly this year. So as I wistfully gaze at this photo I took of Joe during our summer vacation I am wishing I could click my heels together and go back to the beach with the warm sun on my back.
I suppose it wouldn't be a great summer if I didn't feel like it went by too quickly. We had lots of birthdays to celebrate, fun cookouts with family and neighbors, an amazing Coldplay concert, days by the pool, trips to witness friends getting married, trips to visit friends just because, family to visit us, and a couple of lazy days in between. Ya, it was a good summer.
So instead of melancholy, I'll just choose to be thankful that beautiful autumn follows summer and not winter.
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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Decalin' Around

If you're looking for a quick and easy way to spice up your plain walls on a budget, you may want to consider decals. Etsy is a wonderful resource for unique and high-quality decals to suit virtually any aesthetic. Here's how we've used decals in our place.

I loved the look of this ornate S for the stairs in our entryway.

And I thought these birds were a sweet and subtle touch to add to this lattice screen my husband built for our living room.

I love clean lines and simple design, and these poms add some interest to our bedroom without going over the top.

Here are a few Etsy seller options for you to peruse.

I like this fun floral pattern from Single Stone Studios.

You could use one by itself, use them in a pair, or layer them with other colors. Look at all the color options!

With Etsy sellers, it is so easy to customize their merchandise and get exactly what you are envisioning. The only limit is your own imagination and nothing has to look exactly like a catalog or magazine ... unless you're into that sort of thing, that is. If you've never purchased from an Etsy seller before, let me tell you, it is truly a pleasure. All of the sellers I have interacted with have been uber-accommodating and happy to tailor an item to exactly what I'm looking for.

I purchased my cute little birds on a branch from Decorette. (You can also see her stuff on her new web site decorettestore.com.) Guess what? She's located way down under! I won't lie, I was pretty excited when the package came adorned with all the cool postage markings.

How pretty is this huge swooping design?

Or this adorable peacock?

And I can be pretty picky about words on walls (especially when they're cheesy), but who doesn't need to be reminded of what love is, according to I Corinthians 13?? In the right spot, I think it could really work.

The dandelion poms in our bedroom are from Elephannie, where you can also find this cuteness. I think it would look so cool in a girl's room ... maybe on her mirror or on or above the headboard.

Or how about just making the decal the headboard?

If you don't own your current place, you (or your landlord) may not be keen on sticking your walls with decals (even though they come off in a flash and don't even take off the paint). As an alternative, you may want to consider using decals to embellish basic pieces like an old dresser you repainted or one of those banal Ikea sidetables. I think these circles from Elephannie would look rad.

Or how about a dressing up an old piece of furniture with these great blooms from Byrdie Graphics?

I may have to give that a shot if I find anything makeover worthy when I do a bit of thrifting on Saturday. I'll keep you posted on what I find. Wish me luck!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Oh hi, August. Have you seen July around here anywhere? Apologies, and our trip out west.

Oh my word, I have been busy busy busy! I can’t believe we’re more than halfway through August. Mentally, I think I’m still somewhere around July 8th. Please excuse my blogging absence. In July, we had three family birthdays, the premier of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (come on now, this is big stuff), I went crazy helping out with a last-minute proposal at work, my parents came to visit for a week, and Joe was in two weddings in sunny California.

Today, I'll give you a little wrap-up of our trip to the other coast.

Joe flew solo for our friend Matt’s marriage to his sweetheart Katie, at the beginning of the month. He had a blast and hasn’t stopped talking about Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles since.

Katie chose lemon and lime for her colors and I think it turned out so fresh and cheery. Don’t they make a cute couple?

For California-in-July wedding number two, we both flew out (on Virgin America -- it's the only way to fly) for Chris and Lindsay's wedding. It was a beautiful affair! It was clear that lots of careful planning and attention to detail went into making their day perfect. They both come from such sweet families. And Chris worked on the classic truck that his late father left him and he and Lindsay drove away in it. Ahh the romance!

Our trip was only slightly clouded by an accident at the rehearsal dinner. After we'd eaten and were enjoying the beautiful pool under the cloudless California night sky, Joe's foot went straight through the dry-rotted lid to a pool filter and his shin looked as if someone had used a melon baller to scoop out a hunk of his flesh. And as it turns out, he was rather attached to that bit of flesh, too. Seeing as how it was 10pm in a strange city, (and it didn't seem like there was skin to stitch together) we opted out of a trip to the ER and the next day, it was quite painful. Nearly four weeks later, he is thankfully infection free and the wound is on its way to being a distant memory.

Determined to have a good time in spite of his unfortunate encounter with concrete, on Monday we ventured to Santa Monica to visit Evan and Kerstin. They live in the cutest area in a lovely one-bedroom just down the street from Montana Ave. where you can stroll the sidewalks with your dog (we saw three Cavaliers!) and window shop at chic little boutiques.

There's this gorgeous shoe store, Il Primo Passo.

Photo from here.

There's also Planet Blue, which features lots of fashions worn by celebrities.

And kind of like The Denim Bar here in DC, Santa Monica has The Blues Jean Bar, which is modeled after a neighborhood pub and makes jean shopping look like a lot of fun! There are also locations in Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, and Denver.

While the shopping in Santa Monica is great, nothing can compare to the beautiful beach. It was so fun to spend a couple of hours in the sun with the cool breeze, some good conversation, and a few copies of old Domino magazines, courtesy of Kerstin.