December 31, 2009

in the last ten years...

Can you believe it is almost 2010?? It feels like just yesterday we were ringing in the year 2000. It seems to have flown by rather quickly, yet when I begin to reflect on what has happened the last ten years, it all adds up to quite a decade.

In the last ten years, I...
  • traveled outside of the US for the first time (London, Rome, and Paris in 2001)
  • got mono (on the tail end of above trip... fun)
  • lived in and did my internship in NYC, just months after 9/11
  • co-choreographed my first (and only) musical ("Cabaret," in case you were wondering... but that's a story for another day...)
  • graduated from college (go Blue Hens!)
  • got my first job
  • joined Friendster
  • leased my first car — Cindy the Civic :-)
  • got my second job — a place I hated but lead me to a friendship with the girl who would later be the reason I met my husband
  • moved out of my mom's house and into the city (Philly) with my best friend
  • got my third job, a design position at a University
  • met the boy who would later become my husband at a Halloween party
  • fell in love
  • moved out of my first apartment with a roommate and into my first apartment alone
  • lived alone for an entire year and loved it
  • got rid of Friendster and joined MySpace
  • fell down half a flight of stairs (sober!!) and broke my middle right toe — klutz supreme
  • saw my oldest friend whom I've known since birth get married and have TWO children! (Hi, Jilly! :-)
  • saw dozens of other friends and family members get married and have kids
  • bought a car for the first time — Cindy II!
  • experienced a terrible scare when my mom was hit by a drunk driver (also a story for another day)
  • lived with a boy for the first time
  • got engaged to aforementioned boy
  • got my fourth (current) job
  • went to New Orleans Jazz Fest for the first time
  • said goodbye to a few family members, including the only grandmother I've ever known
  • ditched MySpace and joined Facebook
  • planned a wedding
  • started blogging about our wedding
  • got married
  • went to a tropical island for the first time on our honeymoon (Antigua!)
  • deemed Pat's the better cheesesteak over Geno's
  • visited Boston and saw the Red Sox play at Fenway Park
  • visited Chicago and saw the Cubs play at Wrigley Field
  • took Nick to his first Mummers Parade
  • joined Twitter
  • got on national television via The Today Show
  • saw a handful of spectacular Broadway shows
  • attended countless concerts
  • went on my first (and definitely, definitely my last) game show
  • met 35+ bee friends
  • cheered from my living room as the Phillies won the 2008 World Series
  • cheered from the stands as the Phillies won the 2009 NLCS
  • started this blog
So... what have you done over the last ten years?

(PS- Happy New Year's Eve!)

a very Claremont Christmas

Has everyone recovered from the holiday craziness and gluttony? Last weekend was such a lovely long weekend spent with family; Christmas was delightful, as always. We didn't win the Gingerbread House Decorating Competition this year (I demand a recount!) but I think our house still came out great. See?

This year, we bought pre-made gingerbread houses from the grocery store, and we all shared candy and icing... except, there was one twist that Kim added this year. Each couple could bring two additional "wild card" items that only they could use. The only rule was that they had to be edible. Our items were Juicy Fruit gum (which we used as siding), and we planned ahead and baked our own gingerbread to add dormer windows and a chimney! Things did turn out slightly wonky and the windows were waaaaay out of proportion with the rest of the house, but hey — we tried. And our house smells really good whenever you walk by it :-)

We ran out of black nibs for our roof... to cover the empty area I suggested we use the blue icing and call it a tarp — our gingerbread contractors pulled out of the job before it was finished ;-)

We had a blast opening gifts and just spending time hanging out. Nick and my brother bonded over potato peeling...

And we later put on our holiday finest to get a little family portrait by the tree.

I have off again today after a few days of work and we will be enjoying another long weekend to celebrate the new year. Nick and I will be heading out for our customary New Year's Eve dinner at our favorite fancy Chinese restaurant tonight, followed by the ball drop in our town and some midnight smoochin'.

I hope you all have a wonderful New Year's Eve, whether it be festive and fancy or low-key and lovely. Happy New Year to you!

PS- my "Merry Christmas" post was actually my 200th post on Claremont Road! I'm movin' up in the world... ;-)

December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas from Claremont Road

Merry, merry Christmas to you and yours. Enjoy every moment with the ones you love.

Walking around our snowy downtown last weekend during the blizzard of 2009


brown paper packages tied up with... handmade bows and leftover ribbon?

In past years, I have always gone overboard buying pretty gift wrap for Christmas. Of course, a $5 roll of gift wrap usually wraps 3 or 4 gifts before disappearing, so I have always ended up spending $30 or so just on gift wrap, bows and ribbon each year. This year, while carefully budgeting our money, I decided to get a bit creative and save some dough while still having some pretty little packages to sit under the tree.

I started out with these DIY instructions from How About Orange on making bows from magazine pages (or any other scrap paper you may have lying around). I grabbed an old Glamour magazine (say hi to SJP!) and got to work.

I tried to pick pages with bold colors or prints — mostly ads that had less words and more images. Working with the easy-to-follow instructions, I got down to business and had a handful of pretty bows in no time at all. (Okay... about an hour or so later.)


I had also asked Nick to pick up some basic brown postal wrap from our local hardware store. One roll of 75 square feet (30" wide) was only $2.50! Several wrapped gifts later, we still have plenty of paper left to spare. Using the brown paper along with satin ribbon I already had on-hand from some invitation and stationery projects in the past, I wrapped each gift and topped it off with a handmade ribbon.

I also printed out some blank tags using ivory card stock I already had. I printed them so they'd have a little brown circle on which I could punch a hole to make it look like a vintage tag, but you could cut any paper down to 3.5" x 2" pieces and cut angled edges on one side. I hand-wrote each tag with colorful markers to coordinate with each bow.

Total cost for all of our gift wrapping this Christmas: $2.50. I'd say that's a big "win"!

Merry Christmas wrapping to you :-)

December 22, 2009

"even if it's bold italic"

Whether you're a designer or not, you will hopefully get a good laugh out of this video... it's an hilarious homage to one of my favorite fonts, Neutraface, put to none other than Lady Gaga's "Poker Face."

The lyrics... the "choreography"... the half-assed set design. I love it! My favorite performer is the (beardless) guy with the bow-tie and Waldo glasses. He takes his moves VERY seriously.

December 18, 2009


Today, this little ol' blog of mine turns one!

Thank you so much for following along as I've rambled on for 365 days (and 197 posts) about... well, about whatever my little heart desired. I've become quite attached to Claremont Road and I hope to be able to put even more time and effort into making it spectacular in 2010. I hope you'll stay along for the ride.

For now, though, it's time for me to blow out the candle and make a wish...

December 17, 2009

on the turntable: Glee {volume 1}

Are you really surprised? Of course I love Glee — once a musical theatre nerd, always a musical theatre nerd. I am such a sucker for this show and the soundtrack just makes me gleefully happy. (Pun intended).

I asked for volume 2 for Christmas! I hope Santa delivers...

America's favorite dancer.... {spoiler alert!}

... is Russell? Wow. Don't get me wrong. I love me some Russell. Charismatic, adorable, humble and super talented. I looked forward to his performances each week. But Jakob is like... UNFATHOMABLY talented. Boy's got skills I have never quite seen on this show. I really thought the top two would be Kathryn and Jakob and that Jakob would take home the win. I was wrong.

Then again... Jakob and Kathryn are contemporary dancers and they will probably have an easier time getting jobs and offers from companies with the exposure the show provided them, even without a win... as a krumper, the win is a huge boost to Russell's lesser-known specialty and will probably allow him to make a career out of dance that he may not have had otherwise.

What do you think, So You Think You Can Dance fans? Did America pick the right dancer?

December 16, 2009

calendar, calendar... wherefore art thou, calendar?

I am a big-time lover of calendars. I usually have at least 2 or 3 different calendars each year because choosing only one is way too difficult for me. For some reason, though, I haven't really been able to even narrow down my favorites this year. Maybe it's a case of feeling so bombarded with all of the choices out there that I'm desensitized (thanks to the ridiculous number of creative blogs I read... jerks). Or maybe (*gasp*) I have lost my love for calendars. Say it ain't so!

Okay, it ain't so. This jumped out at me today and it may just be my current favorite because it doesn't take itself too seriously.

2010 Calendar of Silly Holidays from Dirty Bandits, found via designworklife

July is National Hot Dog Month. I'll have to tell Nick... he is under the impression that every month is National Hot Dog Month.

Are you a calendarphile, too? What's your favorite 2010 calendar?

December 14, 2009

designers are people, too.

Lately I have become completely enamored with the website Clients from Hell. It is "a collection of anonymously contributed client horror stories from designers" and let me tell you — it so accurately portrays what we designers deal with on a daily basis!

I know I'm biased because I am in a creative profession, but I do feel like people in other professions don't quite deal with the same type of encounters that creatives do. Sure, there are crazy requests that all people get at their jobs, but would someone ever ask a doctor to treat an illness for free with the promise of it being a great learning experience for them? Would you ever tell a builder how to frame a house even though you have no construction experience? Could anyone, with a clear conscience, ask a fireman to put out a fire in half the time (and, in turn, only pay him half of his salary)? I know that what I do may seem like fluff to some people, but it is a job — it took years of education and experience, and it is how I earn a living.

I, fortunately, have never dealt with anything quite as bad as some of the personal accounts on Clients from Hell (for instance, I have never been told "by the way, I can’t afford to pay you for this job, but you will be paid in karma — which is so much better and more permanent anyway")... but, then again, I've got a ways to go in my career ;-) I'm sure I'll encounter some doozies!

What is the craziest thing someone has ever asked of you at your job?

December 13, 2009

behold, the golden Christmas boot

Every family has their Christmas traditions. There are the decorations and ornaments that have been handed down from generation to generation, recipes that are carefully prepared each year, holiday movies that are watched and songs that are sung. One of my most prized Christmas traditions?

The Christmas boot.

Isn't it delightful(ly tacky) and gloriously spectacular? Some years ago, my Nana was going through her Christmas decorations and passing some things along to me to decorate my new apartment. When she asked me if I wanted the golden ceramic Christmas boot, complete with fake poinsettia flowers bursting from the top, I did not hesitate for a second. Indeed, Nana — I want. that. BOOT!

I don't remember her ever displaying the boot during the holidays, but I have made sure to put it on display each year since she became mine (all mine!). It never fails to make me giggle at its quirkiness and flashiness, and it makes me think of my sharp, eccentric, gold-loving Nana. She passed away in 2008, but her memory surely lives on...

Through the golden Christmas boot.

December 11, 2009

the return of She & Him

March 23, 2010 can not come soon enough — that's when She & Him (also known as Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward) come out with their second album! Volume Two will include thirteen tracks — eleven originals and two covers — and it's safe to say that it will be in heavy rotation on my iTunes. You all know how much I love Zooey.

Special thanks to Amanda Jane for sharing this news and making my week a bit brighter!

What 2010 albums are you looking forward to?

December 10, 2009

building your wardrobe

I don't read many fashion blogs. I love pretty clothes and accessories as much as the next person, but so many fashion-related blogs and websites focus on items that are just not feasible with a petite budget like mine. Hey, I've been rocking my $30 Target boots over my $34 Gap Outlet skinny jeans and accessorizing with my favorite $6 Target earrings... and I'm mighty proud of it. But as much as I pride myself in my thrifty ways, it's hard to read high-fashion blogs without feeling discouraged that I simply can't afford that stunning $400 coat or those drool-inducing $250 riding boots.

The one fashion blog that I read consistently is What I Wore, written by Jessica Schroeder. Jessica has built a stunning, fashionable, and budget-friendly wardrobe with a few key "splurge" pieces, plenty of vintage flair, and loads of creative styling. While I'm certainly nowhere near having my act together as much as Jessica in terms of my closet, she has opened my eyes to getting creative with fun and inexpensive accessories, re-styling vintage (or Target!) pieces, and building a style all my own without blowing my budget.

photos via What I Wore

Jessica has just started a series called Build Your Wardrobe that I plan to sink my teeth into (when I have the time... ha) to make better use of the pieces I have without feeling like I need a new wardrobe every time the seasons change. (Because without fail, I always think I have "nothing to wear" when the weather gets colder... or warmer... or whatever.) I'd also like to add a few key items that I'm missing, which will hopefully make it easier to pull specific looks together on the fly.

If you haven't already checked out WIW, get thee there pronto. Oh! And if you're planning a wedding (or you just like weddings), Jessica is newly engaged and has started blogging about her wedding vision and plans at What I Wore Down the Aisle. I absolutely cannot wait to see how fabulously she styles her wedding day!

December 9, 2009

conversations with a half-asleep husband | 12.09.09

Scene: Nick has fallen asleep on top of the covers in the bedroom while watching television. At 11:00 pm, Brooke attempts to gently awaken Nick from his slumber to get him under the covers. Because really, it's quite annoying to try to get under the covers when someone else is on top of them. Am I right? Or am I right?

Brooke: "Honey, why don't you get under the covers."

Nick: "I don't get under anything that's prickly."

Brooke: "What? What's prickly?"

Nick: "The things on the computer screen."

Brooke: ........

Nick: "The computer screen is prickly. I swear I'm sort of making sense. Sort of."

- - - - - -

We have these conversations probably once or twice a month. Sometimes I'm the half-asleep one who says hilarious things or speaks my own language. Sometimes he is. Regardless, hilarity always ensues (and there is a resulting great story to tell the culprit the following day). Methinks I'll be making this a little series on the bliggity blog :-)

December 6, 2009


Sorry for the blog absence over the last week and a half! My computer unexpectedly got a wee bit sick after the Thanksgiving holiday, so I was left without my dear MacBook Pro for a whole FIVE DAYS. Let me tell you, five days without my computer felt like I had lost an appendage.

Sure, I work on a computer all day at work... but so much of my life depends on technology, even outside of work, which became even more apparent last week as our lone personal computer was in the shop. Those Christmas gifts I had been working on designing? Totally put on hold. Holiday cards? Haven't had time to design them yet. Blog writing? Ideas swirling in my brain but no way to post them. Blog reading? I won't even tell you how many posts are unread in my Google Reader. Sure, I had my iPhone to satisfy my basic internet needs (and yes, I NEED the internet!), and I love my iPhone, but I can only tolerate that small screen and keyboard for so long.

I have always embraced the latest technologies and internet trends (i.e., blogging), but sometimes I feel like technology just makes life so much more complicated. I have so many blogs and websites I like to keep up with, but often it feels like I simply can't keep up with them all; it begins to feel like work to keep up with them all, instead of feeling like it's something I do for pleasure. I consider deleting some from my feed, but then I'm afraid I'll "miss" something. There is just such a vast amount of information out there, and sometimes it becomes overwhelming.

I love that technology and the internet makes life easier in so many ways, but I also feel like it has just created so much more for me to do! Do you have a love/hate relationship with technology?

*Sidenote: if you have a Mac, make sure you get AppleCare. Totally, totally worth it. A new logic board, which normally would have cost me upwards of $35o, was totally free.