December 31, 2008

Check Ya Later, Two Thousand Eight

You've been a helluva year.

Nick and me at last year's ball drop in our cute little town

Good in many ways, great in a select few ways, and crappy in some others. But overall, you've taught me a lot, and I'm stepping into 2009 a bit wiser (and perhaps a bit chubbier... I blame my mom's Christmas mashed potatoes for that one).

Tonight is the first New Year's Eve (in the last four that we've spent together) that we're not going out on the town with friends, but I am very much looking forward to our quiet night. Chinese takeout (General Tso's for me... perhaps another reason for the chub-factor), movies at home in my comfy clothes, and a stroll down the street a few minutes before midnight for the ball drop in our town. Tomorrow, we're going to brave the Philadelphia cold and venture to the Mummer's Parade — a great Philly tradition that my family always took part in when I was a kid. Nick has never been there so I'm excited for him to experience the fun of it all.

Happy New Year, everyone! Be safe!

Fancy Mood Swings

The lovely Kelly of one of my favorite blogs, Design Crush, posted about this gorgeous jewelry she stumbled upon over at Mood Swing Studio. I swooned over the photos, but immediately assumed they were pricey pieces.... I am rarely wrong (hehe), but I clicked on over there and found that they're actually quite reasonable!

I love aqua and orange together... this necklace (currently out of stock) is $48

This amazing wreath necklace (also out of stock at the moment) is $44

How cool is this necklace? Only $40.60 (on sale, down from $58)

I love the "going steady" pendant on this necklace, $30.80 (on sale, originally $44)

What a cool vintage image made into a necklace -- $15.40 (on sale, originally $22)

I know, I know — just because they're reasonably priced doesn't mean I can buy any with our current financial situation. But as soon as my money tree starts spouting twenties, I think I'll go for the wreath necklace... or the "going steady" necklace... or maybe both...

December 30, 2008

On the Turntable: Ingrid Michaelson

I first heard Ingrid Michaelson on Grey's Anatomy (along with everyone else in the world) and immediately fell in love with her voice. I downloaded Girls and Boys right away, and was lucky enough to see her perform during an intimate show at the Tin Angel in Philly before she acquired a bit more of a fanbase.

Sometimes when I like a performer so much after first discovering them, I am later disappointed by their follow-up albums. But that is not the case with Ingrid's latest, Be OK. I absolutely love it, especially the title track. It's a happy little ditty that has become my daily mantra in this sometimes crazy life. Have a listen....

My only complaint about the new album is that there aren't more songs to enjoy! I guess I'll just have to keep listening on repeat until she comes out with another.

In Your Fridge and In Your Wallet

A few weeks ago, the inside of our refrigerator was so absolutely pathetic that I had to take photos to prove it.

Nearly empty shelves... not an uncommon sight at Casa de Claremont Road.

Our sparse freezer... complete with some frozen mystery meats and a half-assed shelf because our freezer doesn't have one. Pretty, eh?

I don't dislike grocery shopping, yet some weeks we just don't make it a priority and we end up with next to nothing to eat in our apartment. Often, this leads us to eat out. However, dining out regularly is no longer an option for us as Hubby got laid off a few weeks ago (boo) and we have to pinch pennies until we know what is next for us (double boo). Economy, you're a poopie head.

The plus side of this situation is that now Hubby has his days free to not only grocery shop, but cook me yummy dinners as well (only after job searching, of course). Every night since his layoff, I have come home to an apartment smelling of a yummy homecooked meal and a set table. (He even does the dishes!) And now that we really have to put careful thought into the money we spend on food, we have been absolutely stunned by how quickly it was adding up before without us even noticing. $8 for lunch one workday turns into $45 a week when we don't have any groceries at home, which can easily turn into $190 a month. For one person. Just. For. Lunch. That's insanity!

I certainly don't wish a layoff on anyone, but being forced to reevaluate our spending habits has already been an immense learning experience for us, and I'm sure we're not the only ones. We now have a stocked fridge, and yet our wallets aren't suffering — dare I say they're even more stable than they were before because of how much we've already wised up.

Do you watch how much you spend on dining out, or do you splurge more than you should because you don't have time to grocery shop?

December 28, 2008

101 in 1,001

I love blogs. Shocking, I know. But really, I love that blogs have created this world where normal people can share who they are and what their passions are with anyone who is interested. They also give me hope that there is more kindness and creativity in the world than is evident some days in the "real" world. Although I am sometimes overwhelmed by the constantly updating blogs in my Google Reader and sometimes feel like I'm drowning in more inspiration than I can handle, I definitely have found (and continue to find) some pretty motivating ideas to live a better life.

One of those ideas is 101 in 1,001. The lovely Kate of Pretty Damn Fabulous (and also a fellow beeMrs. Pomegranate) masterminded this idea to accomplish 101 preset tasks in a period of 1,001 days. I have never been a New Years resolution type of person, but now that yet another year is coming to an end I can't help but feel like there is more I could have accomplished, and more that I'd like to accomplish in 2009. But, as we all know, a year often flies by faster than we can imagine and a year isn't always a realistic amount of time to accomplish what you'd like (and there is nothing I hate more than having any item unchecked on a to-do list). That's why I like that 101 in 1,001 gives you 1,001 days to accomplish 101 specific tasks — some small, and some large. As Kate says:
Many people have created lists in the past — frequently simple goals such as New Year's resolutions. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1,001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organising and timing some tasks such as overseas trips or outdoor activities.
I am totally being a copycat and stealing Kate's idea (but that's just a testament to how great I think it is!). I like how she has her list broken up into different categories and I'll probably do something similar. I have to do some thinking about what my list will include, but I think this will be a great way to keep myself motivated to continue a journey of self-improvement, learn some new things, and prevent boredom. I often get in a boredom slump and even though there are a million things I've said I'd love to do when I have the free time, I suddenly forget what they all are and feel like nothing can cure my boredom. Now I'll have a long list of possible activities to prevent any excuses!

Do you create New Year's resolutions for yourself, or do you regularly set goals to continue self-improvement?

December 23, 2008

DIY Ribbon Wreaths

Around Halloween, I saw this great idea for ribbon wreaths via Design Crush, originally found on

I didn't have the time to create any then, but I kept the idea in the back of my mind, and with the hopes of having a semi-homemade Christmas, I decided to make some wreaths as gifts for some family members. I am really excited at how they turned out and I'm anxious (and a little nervous) to give them to people. I hope everyone really likes them and they're not just useless piles of ribbon. (I always get a complex about my gift-giving skills right before the holidays. Ah, the joys of being a perfectionist.)

I started with a 12" round wreath form from JoAnn and some grosgrain ribbon. The instructions called for 1.25" wide ribbon, but I went with 1.5" as that's what I could find online for the best price. It didn't make much of a difference. I purchased this ribbon from PaperMart and was able to make two wreaths from each 50 yard spool. (I went with a spool of wine and a spool of ivory. Here you'll see what the ivory wreaths looked like in the end.)

Beginning with the ivory ribbon, I first cut two long pieces of ribbon at 48" long — these would later serve as the large loops for hanging the wreaths. Then, I cut the rest of the ribbon into 16" long strips. When I was done, I counted them out into two even piles so I knew what I was working with for each wreath. (Obviously, if you're only making one wreath, you need only cut one 48" long piece of ribbon, and about 45-50 16" long strips.)

On wreath numero uno, I started with my 48" long piece — I tied one end to the wreath and made a double knot; I did the same to the other end right next to the first end, so there was now a large loop of ribbon hanging from my foam wreath form.

Next, I began knotting the 16" pieces of ribbon. It doesn't matter how you do this, as long as you stay consistent all the way around. I did right-over-left:

... then pulled it tight:

... and then did left-over right to make my completed knot:

One trick I learned was to tie the knots snugly but not TOO tight — if you tie them too tight, you will need more ribbon all the way around to fill in the space (otherwise you can see the foam wreath form peaking through).

Once I had my knot-tying-strategy down pat (very high-tech), I just kept tying! Round and round and round...


Now, I wasn't quite finished yet. From all the man-handling of the ribbon (I guess we'd call that ribbon-handling), the edges got a bit frayed.

Very slowly, in my true OCD form, I worked my way around the wreath and trimmed very carefully. Using grosgrain ribbon helps as you can just follow the straight lines of the ribbon as your cutting guide. Just make sure you have some nice sharp scissors so you don't keep fraying them even more!

Once all the ribbons were trimmed, I was really excited at how pretty it looked. I spent a little time maneuvering some of the ribbons so they sat nicely alongside each other, and it all came together much like the picture (which I find to be very rare when tackling DIY projects). I really like that the wreaths can be hung any time of year and I hope my loved ones appreciate the craftiness that went into them. I may have to make a few to hang around our apartment. They could also be fun accents for a DIY wedding.

We don't have a very pretty front door, so I hung the finished product from our china cabinet-turned-storage shelves to take a picture. The benefit of moving into an apartment when your mother sells the house you grew up in — you get all her fancy dining room stuff, even if you don't have a dining room!

Here's the cost breakdown of this project, not including the shipping for the ribbon:

Ribbon: $11.99 per 50 yard spool / total for two spools: $23.98
Wreath forms: $5.99 per 12" form / total for four forms: $23.96

Total for all supplies for four wreaths: $47.94
Total cost per wreath: $11.99

A success, I think!

December 18, 2008

that whole "grown-up" thing

I've been toying with the idea of this blog for a while now. I never had a blog until I discovered Weddingbee, which inspired me to immediately begin a wedding blog with the hopes of becoming a "bee." Somehow, that scheme worked, and I have spent the last year writing all about my wedding plans and creative projects for the big day for millions of readers. It has opened my eyes to a whole new world in Blogland, and now that my wedding is over (and, in due time, so will be my wedding recaps on the 'bee), I have been looking to create another outlet for all of my random thoughts and inspired ideas. And so, Claremont Road was born.

I hope for this to become a place where I can share my adventures in adulthood as I try to learn how to cook (one of these days), keep a cozy home, save money to buy a house someday, decorate said house without a single item from my college abode, and do all-around grown-up things. I will also share any creative projects that I may have up my sleeve, inspired ideas that I find online, scoop on my favorite tv shows and movies, and a little pop culture news every once in a while. A healthy cornucopia of content, dontcha think?