Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thankful Thursday--June 28

This week will be a quick one as DAR in underway!

I'm so thankful for J who celebrates his birthday today!!  He opened his gifts during a phone call yesterday so I could hear his reaction--so sweet!

I'm thankful, too, for my many DAR sisters.  I'm having the best week catching up with old friends and cementing new friendships.

Finally, I'm so thankful for the chance to spend time in this wonderful city every year.  There's something magical about walking across the Ellipse to the DAR Hall in the morning, or driving past the Washington Monument late at night!

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Can you canoe?

Remember last August when my dreams of canoeing the Kentucky River were dashed?  Well, while J and I were in Kingsport, TN, a few weeks ago I heard about river rafting near there.  I tried to make plans, but the scheduled tours just didn't coincide with our schedule.  That idea, though, reminded me of the Kentucky River tour, and I called last week to see if they were offering it this summer.  They were!  When Allison called back to confirm our reservation, she confirmed that the lock would be open (YAY!), and then mentioned that it would be closing this week for months of construction.  Wait...we actually landed on the right side of luck this time??

So here we are, canoeing (J's first time ever), locking down, paddling past Buffalo Trace Distillery (which, of course, smelled as delicious from the river as it does the road!), swimming (me, at least...right before I stepped on an errant shell and sliced my toe open...about that luck thing...), and locking back up the river!  We joined a group of folks from Louisville, and had two tour guides. I highly recommend this tour (at least, after the lock re-opens) and you can expect to see J and me heading back to the River and over to Elkhorn Creek again soon!

Preparing to enter the lock from upstream

Buffalo Trace

Immediately after paddling into the lock from downstream; the lower door is still open behind us.
A picture of me taking a picture of the rest of our group while hanging out in the lock.  The upper door (gate?) is built on top of the damn, so water pours in under the gate while we wait.  I suspect that's part of the construction work planned.  The dark line on the wall is the water level when the upper gate is open, so we had a while to wait at this point.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How To... Make a tufted headboard

Remember last month when I mentioned that I told J I'd finish a project before starting another?  Well the new project I had in mind was an upholstered headboard for our bed.  Our bed is against a window, and the windowsill tends to dig into my back when I try to sit up in bed and read blogs.  J had an old wooden headboard hanging out in our overflow guest/storage room upstairs, so I decided to use that for the base.  I added the headboard to our bed for a couple weeks to get a feel for height, and studied up on how to make the transformation.

Let me stop here and say, if you want to tackle a project like this, you need to go read Jenny's tutorial at Little Green Notebook here (and the post she links to in that post).  I followed her directions pretty closely, and when I reached out with questions via email, she responded quickly and most helpfully!

So in pictures, here's what we did to take this (yes, it's turned on its side):
to this:

First, I cut down the legs to bring the headboard to about ten inches above the mattress.  Because we're in front of a window, I didn't want something taller.  If J had a footboard with this bedroom set, I probably would have used it, instead!

Then I sketched out some options to give J an idea of what I had in mind.  We decided to go with one row of buttons (so pretty basic tufting) with large buttons.  Here are the sketches I showed J (No, this one shouldn't be on it's side...) and after playing with some other options, we chose the one on the left below.

So then I cut the foam and laid out the project.  We used two kinds of foam:  3" foam for the main part of the headboard and 1" foam rolled into a 4 " roll to create the looked of a rolled headboard.  Those were pieced together like this so that it was a smooth transition:

I measured out where the buttons would go and marked the headboard and foam (um...with gel food pen wouldn't work and I was doing this part in the kitchen...  Don't laugh.  It worked.)

Then I just drilled the holes in the headboard, attached the foam and wrapped everything in batting to further smooth the edges (a step I apparently managed not to photograph).

And then I went shopping.  I couldn't make up my mind, and ended up making multiple trips to multiple stores in an effort to find inspiration.  I ended up stumbling across a bolt of light blue duck fabric in the very back of JoAnns.  It goes well with the slightly modern (aka Ikea) masculine look we've got in this room.

I made buttons (well, J made most of them while we learned how to make covered buttons), carved out the holes in the foam per Jenny's instructions, and got to work.  I should tell you, this part was harder than I expected.  Not hard, mind you, just more than I thought.  I took it apart a couple times, and may still do that once more.  I can definitely see why having an assistant help out is a good idea.  Unfortunately, Zep just wasn't as helpful as, say, someone with opposable thumbs would have been.

I started with one of the center buttons (I have a total of eight) and then measured across to be sure I maintained somewhat even spacing.  
It looks like this in the back, and I completely followed Jenny's instructions here.  I'd also recommend doing the stapling flat against the ground (or employing more muscle when stapling).  I ended up hammering in each staple to hold the thread.

After I got all of the buttons in, it looked like this:

Then I started the process of pleating the extra fabric and stapling it in place.  Quite frankly, I think this is where I went wrong.  If I were to redo this (which may happen yet), I'd plot the points out on the fabric first and iron in the pleats before starting the tufting process.  Anyhow, here is how it looked after stapling the fabric across the bottom (yes, I trimmed the thread and added more staples before pretending I was done):

And then after wrestling for hours (days?) with the top.  As you can probably see, there isn't enough extra fabric to make great pleats over the top of the headboard.

After consulting facebook, I decided to go ahead and install the headboard and live with it for a while.  If I decide I hate it, or if it gets dirty, I'll take it apart and try out my pre-ironing project.  In the meantime, I really love it.  I've leaned against it several times in the last week and it works exactly as I'd hoped.  It's a touch taller than I'd planned, which is a bit of a problem with the blind, but not so much that I've been bothered.

So here we are--a finished, tufted, upholstered headboard!

Oh, and the white stripe across the headboard is my iphone charger.  It's convenient, and y'all know I don't stage my photos!

What projects have you tackled lately?  Since I finished this "new" project, now I have to finish an "old" project before starting another.  I think the built-ins in the library are up next for us!

Monday, June 25, 2012

I can see clearly now!

I'm sure I've complained before about, or at least you've noticed in my exterior pictures, all of the power lines that cross over our deck.  If you don't recall, this is what it looks like:

Well, after several years, I finally found myself irritated enough to call the phone company about cutting down their line(s).  That's the line that you see coming in from the right at the bottom.  A fairly quick phone call and twelve hours later, I had Travis at my front door.  I don't think it took 30 minutes for Travis to clip the line at the pole, clip it at the house, and clean up the box.  Best part?  It was free!  

The deck felt so much more open, that I had to call the cable company to free me of the other low line (the high line is the electric, and I'm not messing with that).

It took several phone calls and about 36 hours to get Pavel (or something like that) from the cable company to come out.  He wasn't nearly as fast or accommodating as Travis.  In fast, at one point, I was ready to tell him to take his things and leave.  It took nearly two hours from actual arrival to finish (oh, did I mention he was late?  And didn't call?).  In the end, the line was moved to the other end of our deck, and it comes in straight from the back yard, so you really can't even see it from this direction, and it blends well with the trees when looking from the house. 

I've no idea how much this will cost us.  I asked twice and he gave me the runaround both times.  Needless to say, if it seems at all out of hand, the cable company will be receiving a phone call.  The one nice thing (I guess?) is that he installed a cable box and cleaned up the apparently illegal connection that was going on on the back of our house.  Who's surprised something was done incorrectly?  Oh wait, no one. Thanks, PO!

Of course now we have to paint where everything used to be...

Anyhow, that's what happened at the MP last week.  I'm off to DC for our national conference for a week, leaving J and Zep to hold down the fort.  I'll do my best to post, since I actually have some topics in mind, but I expect to get flaky toward the end of the week!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fitness Friday--June 22

So it's been one of those weeks where I've had something to post every day, but a longer to do list than time to finish.  That said, I'm heading to DC for DAR Continental Congress (our national convention) next week and I expect my blogging to be even more sporadic.  I figure I owe you.

Physical fitness--I made it below 200 last week!  And at Monday's check-in I was a little lower.  I'm now solidly in the 190's and a little more than 12.5% (remember, my goal for the summer is 15%).  The stress of getting everything ready to be out of the office for a week isn't doing good things for my diet, but I figure I've built in the wiggle room this summer.  I'd planned to walk every Thursday night with J this summer to help meet the goal, but three weeks in we've only done that once.  Last week we had other plans, and last night we both worked late.  Next week is out due to my travel.  I guess we'll recommit in July?

Fiscal fitness--Did you know that you can call the phone company and they'll send someone out to cut down the phone lines you don't use?  For free??  Needless to say, I didn't.  If I had, those lines (apparently we had two phone lines; thanks, PO!) would have been gone years ago!  I've got a cable company rep coming by later today to discuss options for the cable line.  J says cutting that one down is not one of the options.  I'll post pics Monday to show you how much more open that part of our deck/yard looks without the phone lines!

How are you doing on your summer fitness goals?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bridge to Somewhere

I thought I'd share another picture from our field trip to Kingsport, TN.  This is taken from just under one of the uprights on the suspension bridge we tackled.  I think it looks cool.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Field Trip!

J and I went on a field trip to eastern Tennessee this weekend.  A good friend from DAR was married in Kingsport, TN, on Saturday and we decided to make a weekend of it.  Kingsport is about four hours south-east of Lexington.  There are a couple of ways to get there, so we tried one on the way down and another on the trip back.

To get there, we took I-75 south about an hour to Corbin, KY (birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken!), then turned southeast to the Cumberland Gap. From the Cumberland Gap we turned east into Virginia.  That part of the trip was beautiful, with rolling fields of hay and tree-covered mountains behind them.  We arrived in Kingsport just in time for the Rehearsal/Welcome Dinner.  This BBQ was held in a barn/pavillion on the grounds of the historic Allandale Mansion.  Best part?  The ice cream truck that showed up just before dinner!  The whole wedding weekend was full of sweet, personal touches like the ice cream truck--in this case, the bride's grandfather always supported dessert first, so in his memory, we all enjoyed our ice cream before the meal!  After dinner there was dancing (to Gomer and the Three Pyles) late into the night.

Saturday morning, J and I woke up late, enjoyed breakfast by the pool, and then headed out to investigate Kingsport.  Kingsport is largely an industrial town (Eastman Chemicals is located there), but they are working to become more fitness-friendly.  One part of that mission is the Greenbelt, a linear park connecting historic and scenic properties throughout town.

We wandered around one part of it for a couple miles walking across a suspension bridge over the Holston River (and back--yikes!!) and past the Netherland Inn and old Boatyards of Kingsport.

Side note--the suspension bridge was narrow and swayed horribly when you walked across it.  I insisted on going across it because I strongly believe in doing things that make me uncomfortable (remember when I did the same thing on the Navy Pier ferris wheel in Chicago?), and it definitely succeed in making me uncomfortable.  Here is a picture of my trying really hard to look calm and collected.  I wasn't.

And here's J actually looking calm and collected.  Not surprisingly, he was.
Not too much farther along the bridge after we took these pictures, a jogger came across from the other side.  Remember when I said it swayed horribly when walking on it?  Y'all.  Y'all!  He was jogging! And the bridge is really only wide enough for one person!  J was pressed against the side of the bridge, but I was barely off center of the bridge, so needless to say the jogger had to stop running and squeeze around me.  It was not a pleasant experience.

We tried to follow the Greenbelt downtown, but apparently that part of the park hasn't been completed (or marked!).  We drove downtown, where we checked out the farmers market and then  wandered over to Broad Street.  Kingsport was clearly laid out and Broad was once a thriving downtown area.  It is still active, but mostly with antique shops and law offices.  At one end of Broad is the old train station (now a bank):

At the other end, about three blocks away, is Church Circle, where four of the original churches in town (including the church that hosted the wedding) share space.  We ate lunch at TK's Big Dog, a hot dog shop that ships in dogs, buns and toppings from New York, Chicago, the west coast, Philadelphia, Boston, etc.  It was a great concept and a great meal.  We also stopped in at the Stir Fry Cafe for a tasting, but weren't terribly impressed.  Because he insists its a cool picture (he's right), here's a picture of J with the menu:

Finally, we dropped into Paper, a stationary store.  J convinced me to buy a couple rolls of paper that I fell in love with.  He thought they made good weapons, too...

The wedding and reception after were tons of fun, and I was so happy to have shared in my friend's day.  After a late night at the reception, J and I slept in and enjoyed a leisurely drive back through Tennessee and southeastern Kentucky to get home.  While not long enough to consider it a vacation, it was so nice to get out of town for a couple days and explore a new part of the country.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A little explanation...

Last week I wrote about finishing my first needlepoint project, and my dad asked (rather pointedly) about it.  So, a little explanation--

Fr. J chose several crests, crosses, and other religious icons to be needlepointed for our Chrismon tree.  I chose St. Andrew's Cross because it was the easiest one I saw when the projects were passed out.  As you can see, the cross is a white (or silvery white, in this case) X on a blue field.

The cross is called St. Andrew's Cross because tradition holds that St. Andrew was crucified on a cross shaped like an X.  The tradition is that St. Andrew did not think he deserved to be crucified on the same style cross as Jesus.  (St. Peter was supposedly crucified on an upside down cross for the same reason.)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Fitness Friday--June 8

Last Sunday, J asked me about the cross on my pedometer.  The explanation is easily summed up by saying it is a reminder to me that what I eat is a choice.  As I explained it, I was really proud of myself for this 'aha' moment.  This whole weight loss thing is a choice.  I choose to eat healthy (or unhealthy) amounts of food.  I choose to (or not to) exercise.  Now, you should know that I totally ate cookies this weekend.  And a cinnamon crunch bagel (my first since starting WW, though I consider it a win that I didn't eat the Krispy Kreme donut sitting next to it).

So I went off to my weigh-in on Monday proud of my "choice" realization and confident that it would be reflected in my weigh-in.  Y'all probably know better than I did where this is headed.  Turns out that figuring things out doesn't necessarily equate weight loss.  And figuring things out plus eating cookies/bagels definitely doesn't equal weight loss.

I was down about it for a while.  Then, I realized that, like what I eat and how much I exercise, my response to this is also a choice.  So I chose to get real about recording every bite I ate this week.  I've been lax the past few months; choosing to eat smaller portions, but not necessarily looking up the points or staying under my point allocation for the day.  My 'unofficial' daily weigh-ins indicate that this is a good choice.  I'll let you know next week how right (or wrong) I am about that.

WW recommended we set a summer goal for ourselves, something to strive for between now and Labor Day.  I chose my 15% weight-loss (34 pounds total; almost 8 pounds less than my "official" weight on Monday) .  Now, if I keep making good choices, I'm thinking there is a great chance I will meet that goal early.  J suggested I hold off on adjusting my goal until I meet it.  He's probably got a good point.  I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Crafty-marathon Complete!

So the last few weeks have been a craft marathon for me with deadlines for various projects falling within days of each other.  Basically, the run-down goes like this:

May 29 was my original deadline to get the party project in the mail.  Because of everything that happened over Memorial Day weekend, I pushed the deadline back, and I got everything in the mail yesterday.  I'm planning a monster post on the party plan for next Tuesday's blog post, but here's a sneak peak of what it looked like in my living room:

June 1 was the deadline for my needlepoint project.  I finished it on the 2nd and turned it in on the 3rd.  I am actually really proud of this project.  It was my first attempt at needlepoint, and I think it turned out pretty well.

On June 3, the KSDAR Juniors met to finish putting together our cupcake topiaries.  Well, "finish" is a word with an ever-changing definition.  In this case, it means we got all of the cupcakes on Styrofoam, glued and ribboned.  We'll really finish them (meaning, inserted in flower pots and ready to place on a table) at Continental Congress at the end of the month.  Anyway, to be ready to put the topiaries together, I needed to finish decorating the cupcakes I made in April.  A marathon decorating session with J and my friend K knocked that out!

Late last week, Fr. J asked if I could etch some candleholders/bourbon glasses (there's been some debate as to what they are) for the choir's last Sunday.  Did I mention that was also June 3?

So to wrap this up, last week I: worked on needlepoint, painted cupcakes, cut and sewed together paper mobiles (with K's sewing help), painted cupcakes, decorated cupcakes, worked on needlepoint, finished party planning, worked on needlepoint, etched glass and put together cupcake topiaries.

Any guesses as to why there was no Melton Point Monday post yesterday?  Right.  Nothing happened around the MP last week that wasn't crafty.  Maybe this week.  Maybe not.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Fitness Friday--June 1

Short post today, since I'm actually writing it Thursday night and I am beat!  K and J both chipped in on the craft project (while watching the first night of Hatfields and McCoys--thank goodness for DVR) and we finished it in great time.  J even made an awesome steak salad for us to enjoy on a break.  I'm grateful to be done, but aware that I still have progress to make in the way of craft projects before the weekend is up.

Best news of today's Fitness Friday post is that I am officially under 200 lbs!  As I said last Friday, I have reached this mark three times now in the last five years (though I think it's worth pointing out that I didn't yo-yo as far above it this most recent time than the time before...).  My next WW goal is 15%, and I'm seven pounds away from that (which, at the rate I've been losing lately, might happen sometime before fall), but my next 'big' goal is to get under 190 lbs.  I haven't been there since some time in 2005.

Some have asked about J's knee, and it is healing nicely.  He still needs to ice it regularly, particularly when he's been standing or walking a lot.  I'm eager for it to heal completely so he can take walks with me again!