Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Stitch and Beach

I got this in my email this morning:

Thinking forward to another winter in Iowa, this sounds like heaven. Of course, going anywhere where there's sun in February sounds good to me.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Link to Marriage Tips

Joanna Goddard of the blog A Cup of Jo just got married and is taking a two-week honeymoon. While she's out, she has guest bloggers posting marriage tips. The tips are great, but I'm really enjoying the photographs that accompany each post. It would be great if she'd continue with these after she gets back!

Here's one of my favorites so far, to get you started.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Martha Stewart Eats Babies

Or, at least, she likes to dress babies up like food. This was in my inbox from the Martha Stewart Craft of the Day Newsletter today:

I clicked on the link to the site and was relieved to find comments like this:
"Is it just me, or is this creepy???"
"I think it's bizarre."
Then I noticed Martha has a whole line of babies-as-food costumes. The horror, the horror:
That's supposed to be a pie...I think the baby's trying to escape!
There were also instructions on making your baby look like a salad, but there was no accompanying picture. This is a letdown for me, for one because I can't see how that would work, and number two because it sounds delicious!

Martha, I've seen Anne Geddes pictures, and you, Madam, are no Anne Geddes. Behold:

See, THIS is how it's done! I don't find anything remotely creepy about this, except I do worry about their exposure to pesticides and whether they're getting watered enough.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

10 Tips for Traveling to London

Paddington and Paddington and Me
Here I am posing with the statue of Paddington Bear at Paddington Station with the bear I bought there.

I just got back from a week in London। It was my first overseas trip, and I did weeks of research to prepare for it. Most of my research really prepared me well, but there were a few things I wish I'd known before going. Combining everything I read with my own experience, here's a list of my tips for traveling to London:

1. If you are planning on using the tube a lot, including getting to and from the airport, don't use a wheeled suitcase. Only a few tube stops are handicapped-accessible, which means you're going to have to use a lot of stairs. Also, my suitcase got stuck in every turnstile at every Tube and train station. Take a tip from the Amazing Race contestants and get a carry on-sized backpack to use as your suitcase.

2. Pack light, carry on all of your luggage, but bring a spare carry-on bag. Here’s what we did, and it worked really well: Pack a flat, lightweight, carry-on bag in your suitcase/backpack. Carry on all of your luggage on the flights to London. On the way back, pack all of your souvenirs and valuables in the spare carry-on bag, and check your other suitacase/backpack. You won’t have to worry about lost luggage while you’re in London, and when you get back, you will make sure you have all of your souvenirs with you when you arrive. If the checked bag gets lost, at least you’re home. By the way, as far as what to wear, don’t worry about looking like a tourist, because unless you’re wearing a suit, speak with a British accent, and never look at the sights around you, you already look like one.

*A note on the whole liquid law: since you can only carry on so much liquid, I packed as much as I could in the little quart ziplock and bought the rest when I got there at Superdrug. You can either abandon what you bought when you leave or pack it in your checked luggage.

3. Bring two pairs of comfortable shoes. If a pair gives you blisters one day, you’ll have an alternate. Also, if you wear running shoes, they take at least 24 hours to dry out and bounce back to their original shape after wearing.

4. Be prepared to walk up a lot of stairs. If you hate climbing stairs, you’re going to HATE taking the Tube. Yes, there are escalators, but you have to take some stairs to get to them. Only a few Tube stops are handicapped-accessible. Work out on a Stairmaster for a few weeks before you leave, and you’ll be good to go.

5. Bring a bottle of reliable water with you everywhere. Rick Steves pointed out that even if the local water is safe to drink, it may contain minerals and bacteria that your body is not used to, so you can still get sick. I was fine drinking the London tap water, but one bottle of Welsh water made me sick. I stuck with tap water or Evian the rest of the trip and was fine. With all the walking you'll do, you will need to stay hydrated, especially if it gets warm (most places do not have air conditioning, including the tube). Don’t depend on vendors at the tourist sites for water, as it will be more expensive and some of them only take cash.

6. Bring a coin purse. Most of the money you'll use in London will be coins, and they get bulky and heavy.

7. Don't bother exchanging money, just go to an ATM when you get there. The service charge at the ATM will be lower than what a money exchanging service will charge you, and there are ATM's everywhere.

8. Make a list before you go of all the things you'll need to buy for others and yourself. My family told me what they'd like me to bring back, so it made souvenir shopping easier and I didn't forget anyone. I forgot to put down a charm for my charm bracelet, which I always get on every trip, so I didn't get one. I luckily was able to order one online from a London shop, but it just isn't the same.

9. Leave one day on your itinerary with nothing planned at the end of your stay. You may find you didn't get to do all the things you scheduled, so this can be a catch-up day. Also, you won't want to do anything to stressful the day before you go, as traveling home will be exhausting enough, so this can be a good day to rest up. We had a pretty physically-demanding last day, and it made it even more tiring to run through the train stations and airports the next day.

10. Use the Oyster Card. It’s cheaper, it’s easier, and you’ll use it like crazy. You can even register it so if it gets lost, you won’t lose all the money you’ve put on it.

If I could put an 11th tip on here, it would be to go there only when you are really wealthy, because everything is so expensive, but what can you do about that?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Finally, a wedding and honeymoon post!

It took a couple of hours and some tears, but I finally uploaded all the wedding and reception pictures to flickr. There were so many pictures that Flickr Uploader actually crashed twice in the process. I didn't put descriptions on all the photos because I needed time to eat and sleep, and it was either the pictures or my health and sanity, so I chose the latter.

Here's a picture of the wedding party:
Wedding Party
From Left: my dad, middle sister Leslie, youngest sister Kendal, me, Sean (the groom), his best man Erin, friend Lane, and his younger brother Lee, in front of the Polk County Court House in Des Moines, where we got hitched.

The reception was at the Walnut Woods Lodge in West Des Moines. I was so busy getting ready that morning that I went with wet hair. It was crazy, but we pulled it off:

Bower-Keeler Reception
The Location

Bower-Keeler Reception

Bower-Keeler Reception
We bought all the flowers that morning and Leslie frantically arranged them. The ones on this table are actually the bride's and bridesmaids' bouquets. I baked the cake and cupcakes myself because they needed to be gluten-free for my sister and father. My sister Kendal decorated the cake and Leslie decorated the cupcakes. We ordered the sheet cake and all the food from HyVee. We had TONS left over.

Bower-Keeler Reception
We provided these fruit and veg plates, plus a meat and cheese trays and sammich-making stuff.

Bower-Keeler Reception
Bought these metal tubs at Lowes. Unfortunately they were leaking melting ice like crazy.

Bower-Keeler Reception
Bought these personalized fans for everyone, thinking we'd have a typical mid-July day in Iowa (hot and humid). The weather turned out to be so unbelievably cool that we now have $100 worth of personalized fans sitting in our kitchen. Any takers???

Bower-Keeler Reception
Leslie brought her amp and mic, so we used that for the toasts. Here., the best man salutes me for putting up with Sean.

Bower-Keeler Reception
Here, Leslie sings my requested song, "Grow Old With Me" by John Lennon. She was a hit, and did an encore.

Bower-Keeler Reception
Eating. Drinking.

Bower-Keeler Reception
After the speeches, we all went outside for some non-dancing entertainment.

Bower-Keeler Reception
Sean brought his mini soccer nets and hockey gear. He said it was for the kids, but I think we all know better:

Bower-Keeler Reception

After the wedding, we went out for Karaoke, which I pooped out on early. After the reception, the groom and his friends went out to the BBQ and Blues fest downtown, but I was too tired for that, too. They all eventually came back to our place and played with our Wii, and if that sounds dirty, it's probably because it is. I fell asleep, so I have no idea what other shenanigans went on.

So, the next step is our honeymoon trip to London, which starts August 17th. I am feverishly preparing for that now in advance, packing, planning, etc. I don't travel well, and I anticipate the jet lag will not be much fun for me. Still, this is a trip of a lifetime for me, so I will try to suck it up.

For more exciting photos, feel free to peruse my flickr uploads in the Wedding collection.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

This is a great idea!

This could be great for folks with kids.

Anti-Boredom pocket kit - More DIY How To Projects

Oh, yea, and I got married last week. More info forthcoming.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How to get a lot of free (and reduced-price) stuff on your Birthday

Today I celebrated my 34th Birthday with a free caramel soy latte for breakfast and free sandwich for lunch, and no one had to open their wallet. These were all perks I received because I signed up for email updates from Caribou Coffee and Planet Sub.

If you have an email address, a printer, and the ability to leave the house, you too can enjoy free stuff and discounts on your birthday. All you have to do is put up with a bit of clutter in your in-box. (Planet Sub, by the way, doesn't send me email except on my Birthday.)

This year was an all-time record for freebies and discounts on my Birthday. Here's what I got:

A free Birthday Burger of my choice at Red Robin.
A free drink of my choice at Caribou Coffee.
A free six-inch sub of my choice at Planet Sub.
25% off one item at Borders Books and Music. (I also have a $5 Borders Bucks coupon to use with it.)
$10 off a pair of shoes at DSW. (I combined this with a $5 coupon I already had, getting my wedding shoes for 35 bucks!)

Doing a little research in the bloggersphere, there are websites and blogs devoted to finding where you can sign up for free stuff on your birthday. Here's a top ten list on This website is dedicated to Free Birthday Treats. This writer for the Star-Tribune has discovered the joy of free Birthday stuff, too.

See? Now your friends don't have to shell out any bucks for your Birthday dinner. Hell, you don't even NEED friends at all! (This blog does not endorse friendlessness, however).

Whenever your birthday is, have a good one, and a free Blizzard on me.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson

When I was in the third grade, a friend came up to me and told me about this musician she was "in love with." His name was Michael Jackson, and she showed me a picture. I had never heard of him, and I couldn't understand why she liked him. I would have been 8 at the time, I'm guessing, so I wasn't really into boys yet. Apparently, she was.

A couple of years later, I went over to a friends house after school and saw "The Making of Thriller" on MTV. I had grown up watching shows about the making of movies, but this one was different for me. I remember vividly watching Rick Baker make the werewolf mask for Michael Jackson and thought, "I want to do that!" I think it was the first time I wanted to do something behind the camera rather than in front of it. I credit this show as one of the reasons I studied film in college.

Even though I bought my first and only Michael Jackson album last year (the 25th Anniversary release of Thriller), you could not grow up in the 1980's and early 90's without being inundated with Michael Jackson music, videos, and, sadly, the tabloid news about him. It seems strange that he's gone, but almost fitting that it was so fast and unexpected, kind of like his solo career.