Thursday, March 29, 2012

An Old Friend

I've been quiet, I know.  I haven't felt much like blogging lately; I got sick, it's raining cats and dogs, and well, I just haven't been feeling inspired enough to clickety clack away at the keys and share. 

But today, I will share a magical tale.   Once upon a time, there was a magazine called Blueprint.   It was a Martha Stewart design/lifestyle magazine for the younger set, and it was amazing.  Projects and styling and pretty, pretty, good things.  They did 8 issues, and then Blueprint went away.  It was a sad, sad day, especially since I only managed to snag six of the eight issues. 

Without issues one and eight, I felt incomplete.  And sad.  Very, very sad.  I had to fill the void and complete the set.  To eBay I went.  The eBay sellers knew the preciousness they had, and were charging accordingly--$25 dollars for one issue!  Psh. A bit of fortuitous googling brought me to The Hidden Library, where I found a customer service number (1-877-747-1050) and an offer: all eight issues for $20.  Sold.  I called, I bought the set, paid the man, and today, I have eight brand-new, never been loved issues of Blueprint magazine. 

That dress...I just love it...

It's like meeting up with an old friend and making a few new ones at the same time.  I can't wait to re-read through all the issues for inspiration! 

There aren't a ton of bundles left, so if you're interested, go snag yours while you can.  You'll love it, I promise!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Honk Honk, Rattle Rattle Rattle, Crash, Beep Beep

Alternate title: In which I give the reader a bit of back story before launching in to my tale of used-car shopping.

There are several advantages to growing up the daughter of an auto mechanic:

One: "Daddy?  My car is doing X, Y, or Z.  And making an "eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" noise. What's wrong with it?"  This question is soon followed by: "Drop it off and I will take a look at it."

Two: Oil changes that I don't have to do myself or take to Jiffy Lube for the hard sell.

Three: Anytime I need a car, one is available to me.

Four: Family Discount.

These advantages all went away when the Goodlaffs moved to Seattle. Bummer.

As you can imagine, being the daughter of a mechanic means I've never had to buy a car.  I've never even considered having to buy a car.  When I turned sixteen, the car conversation went something like this:

"So, you want a car?"
"See that car over there?"
"That's your car. The engine's broken. You are going to help rebuild it."
"Um, yay?"

The car my dad pointed to was a copper-colored 1974 Mercury Comet. Behold "Nimbus" (I name my cars--they run better that way) in all its glory.  I have pointed out some of its best features:

At first, all I wanted was a lovely 90's Honda Civic like all the other cool kids in school, but in all honesty, I came to love my car, and wouldn't have traded it for anything. It was easy to find in a parking lot: Honda, Honda, Honda, Honda, my car. I never had to worry about anyone stealing it--its age made it theft-resistant. Nimbus had a beastly engine that once hit 100 miles an hour (shhh), was practically a steel tank, and once I installed a CD player, had a kick-ass stereo. And did I mention the leopard print seat covers?

Sure, Nimbus had a few issues.  At stoplights I had to keep my feet on the brake and the gas so the engine wouldn't die. There was a massive water leak that soaked the carpets every time it rained, and the water that came in would pour directly onto my foot on the gas pedal; I once found an actual living seedling growing out of my carpet. The cyllanoid wouldn't always work, so sometimes I had to start my car with a screwdriver (though, this, I considered to be more of a plus than a minus--how many people do you know that can start a car with a screwdriver? Two words: Bad. Ass.)

I would also like to point out the car next to Nimbus.  This was the second car I drove, and was named "Fluffy" after the three headed dog in Harry Potter (seeing a theme here?), because no one wanted to go near the car.  In college, all my friends would offer to drive because Fluffy was not cool.

I got my third car when I came back from teaching English in China.  Daddy Goodlaff had him (and the bill) waiting for me.

Neville, my maroon 1984 Honda Accord was lovely.  He was a little slow at times, but brave when it really counted (like his namesake, Neville Longbottom). Before we moved to Seattle, we sold Neville and decided to stick with one car until we couldn't any more.

We hit that point a few weeks ago.  Mr. Goodlaff got a job that would have meant a two and a half hour bus ride for him, or an extra hour added to the commute for me.  We weighed the time, the cost, and the quality of life, and decided to start the hunt for a new (to us) car. 

Up next:  I actually tell you about my shopping experience....

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A New Project

I've been sick for a few days now--sort of a mini-cold of death.  And when I'm sick and feeling helpless, I like to try and counteract the patheticness by taking control of some small measure of a thing.  In this case, my desk.  My desk was buried under all kinds of half-done crafts, months and months of receipts, and various other trinkets. I can't control my cold, but I sure as hell could fix my desk situation. It took me a few hours to straighten and sort and file, but I can now say that my desk is clean.  How long it will stay that way is another matter entirely.

In all the sorting and cleaning it became clear to me that I needed a little something extra to display my pictures and mementos, and keep a few things front and center.  Once upon a time, I had a fabric memory board (sometimes called a french memory board), and I found myself needing one right this second. 

I also found that I had everything I needed to make my very own.  Well, almost. 

A long time ago I painted three canvases for my bedroom.  Since Mr. Goodlaff and I moved in together, they've been sitting in a closet, and for whatever reason, we dragged them up here to Seattle (sentiment, I suppose). In any case, one of my canvases went from this:

To this:

Pretty good for a nearly free project, I'd say. Stay tuned for the tutorial!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Postcards from Seattle: Surprisingly Sunny

Well, it's dumping down rain right now, and it's set to do that for the foreseeable future.  There's so much water, I'm considering building an ark. 

But a few weekends ago?  Totally different story.  It was gorgeous!  Still on the cool side, but the sun was out and the Goodlaffs took full advantage of it. 

We started on Alki Beach, and found this somewhat out-of-place statue to greet us:

I still don't know what a mini statue of liberty is doing in Seattle, but it's still cool...

We walked all along the beach,

Checked out some sea steps,

And finally made it to the best view of the city!

Sunday was spent a little closer to home, at Lincoln Park.  The day wasn't quite as sunny, but the trail was just as awesome.

We had fantastic views of Elliott Bay!

I am so in love with our new home that I can't stand it!  We just have so many amazing public spaces available to us!

It was probably the best weekend we've had in a really long time, because it wasn't focused on errands or chores.  We got a chance to really enjoy the great outdoors in the Pacific Northwest, which is part of what brought us here in the first place. 

Here's to many more sunny days to come!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sew Lovely

I'm pretty confident calling myself a beginning sewer.  I've made a few bags and done some minor sewing projects, but up until a few weeks ago, I'd never actually made clothes.  For whatever reason, I am pretty intimidated by the thought of making clothes for myself or anyone else.  With all that fabric, something is bound to go wrong.

But, being as this is the year of progress, I decided to give it a go, and I made a little something for my niece, Dee, who is turning four.  She is the most adorable, precocious child on the face of the planet.  I mean, just look at her:

Gah, so cute! I looked through all my crafty books and scoured the Internet for a perfect birthday project, finally landing on the Toddler Pinafore Smock Top from One Yard Wonders:

Source: One Yard Wonders

I purchased some purple fabric with white polka dots, and knowing my proclivity for screwing things up, went for a yard and a half, just in case. Good thing too.  I totally blew it, and ended up using every last bit of fabric I bought.

It was, after I figured everything out, rather easy. And it turned out so cute!

I kept the fabric simple, because my niece is fond of dressing herself, and I used white twill tape for the ties at the back to play off of the tiny white polka dots. 

The best part?  Besides being adorable, a pinafore truly is a year-round garment: pair it with pants and long sleeves in the winter, and shorts and short sleeves in the summer. 

I hope she likes it!

All in all, a good first clothing project. Next time, I'll have to try something in my own size...

Monday, March 5, 2012

Wheezy: Hit the Ground Running

We've been walking to get ready for the Sea Wheeze Half-Marathon for weeks (five, but who's counting?).  We have officially registered to--let's say--"race." And now, we are actually running.  For realz. 

Starting today, Mr. Goodlaff and I are easing into the running thing.  This week's agenda: walk three minutes, run thirty seconds for a total of sixty minutes on every day but Thursday and Sunday. It's entirely do-able.

At first, the running is easy.  "Thirty seconds?  No big deal.  I am a gazelle on the wide open Serengeti! I can keep running for way longer," you think to yourself.  But after about 40 minutes, you're feeling more like the weak, lame gazelle about to be a lion's dinner, and thinking: "Holy $#%&!!!! Is this over yet?"

That said, it wasn't been completely awful.  I won't claim to have enjoyed the actual act of running, but I did have a small sense of satisfaction at not having rolled an ankle or collapsing in a wheezing heap on the sidewalk today (it's early, yet). And I am beyond glad that we did the walking to condition ourselves; let me tell you--if we started off running, I would have stopped after today. 

We rewarded ourselves for a good day's run with a dinner salad, and felt very righteous.  All in all, a good start on the long road ahead...

Friday, March 2, 2012

On Books

While discussing what to get our niece, Dee, for her upcoming fourth birthday, Mr. Goodlaff and I quickly agreed on one thing: a book should be included. Both Mr. Goodlaff and I believe that books are an important part of childhood, but what came out of our discussion was the realization that I am a freakishly-devoted lover of books (though this, we already knew). For me, it goes beyond the covers and bindings and words. I remember stories and worlds; I remember the way that reading of adventure and mysteries made me feel. For me, books open up the world.

I've always loved to read, and my childhood was filled with hundreds of books.  I'd come home with those newsprint Scholastic book catalogues, circle sometimes a dozen books, and pass it off to Mama Goodlaff with big, wide eyes, wanting so badly to get them all.  And the yearly book fair?  Oh, I lived for the book fair.  For one week, I would spend my lunchtime in the library, running my hands over the spines of all those brand new books, trying to decide which ones I should take home with me. I was a voracious reader, reading anything as long as it, and I, sat still long enough.

As a child I would get so engrossed in a story that I would hear nothing until Mama Goodlaff was practically banging down my door (though sometimes, I have to admit, I ignored her on purpose, which I'm pretty sure she knew--sorry Mom!).  Even now, when I'm reading a book, the world falls away and I live only between the words on the pages in front of me.

I truly believe that the stories we read as children swirl about inside our heads for the rest of our lives.  They teach us about life and mold us into the eventual people we become. A velveteen rabbit tells us that once we are real, we can't be ugly except to those who don't understand; somewhere, buried in all the comical poems of Shel Siverstein lives the wisdom that all the would-a, could-a, should-a's ran away from one little did; and, for all of the absurdity that lies beyond the looking glass, in Wonderland, we can still believe at least six impossible things before breakfast. 

We understand our world through what we experience.  Books allow us, from the safety of our own chairs, to live a thousand lives and experience things we might otherwise miss.  And when you think about the fact that all the novels we ever read were the product of an author's imagination? Magic.  Pure magic.

A book really is the only present you can open again and again.

And that's why we make it a point to give books to our nieces and nephews.

For Dee, we decided on Madeline of  "twelve little girls in two straight lines" fame, and hope that she will enjoy that piece of her present for years to come. And I hope that she'll come to see the magic and value of books.  Though, hopefully she'll be a little less obsessed with them than I seem to be....