Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show - Feb 2013

My birthday went to the dogs! That's right - this year I got to do something I have always wanted to do, go to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

I found the tickets through Stub Hub; they were being sold by a Kennel Club member. The very fancy, glossy, heavy card stock tickets were also delivered with a program and a short handwritten note. It made me want to write the seller directly and let her know the tickets were going to a true fan. (I didn't, but maybe she'll read this and recognize the seats.)

I wasn't sure what to wear, when I watch the show on tv people can be dressed pretty fancy. I ended up wearing black pants, a pink peplum top, and a black sequin jacket. Most people in my section were very casual but I was pleased with my outfit because I looked pulled together but not over dressed. Arriving the first night there was a lovely woman dressed in a blue silk suit with open toe sandals and a matching blue silk hat. Clearly she was not taking the C train to MSG, she was being dropped off at the front door by her driver. Managed to catch her again on the second night - she was wearing black suit with thick off white trim, black hose, black satin pointy toe kitten heels, and a black hat with cream trim, rhinestones, and feathers. The closer people sat to the judges, the nicer they were dressed. There were men in tuxedos and women in cocktail dresses in the very front viewing area.

The view from the seats - the same side as the judges and not too far away from the main floor. I was pleased.

All of the dogs were so well behaved and so beautiful. I wanted to take them all home with me!

It's the golden retriever - she didn't win!

The press area. Who is covering the dog show? Why are there so many people in the press area?

The cats were pretty mad I was at a dog show, until I told them dogs actually let themselves be judged by humans - and we all had a good laugh.

Monday, February 18, 2013

For My Valentines

This year I sewed pieces of fancy chocolate bark in to paper sandwich bags for all of my Valentines.
And even though I can't figure out how to flip this photo in the right direction, you can still see how darn cute they look.

Originally I was going to use pieces of wax paper or parchment paper but when I saw the paper sandwich bags in the store I knew they would be perfect (and easier to work with than two separate pieces of paper).

First I cut a heart template out of a piece of cardboard.
Next I traced the heart on the back of the bag (I decided they looked better when the back of the bag was on top when going through the sewing machine.)
After that I added the name to the front and chose the appropriate flavor of chocolate (five spice with dried pear, dark chocolate with slivered almonds and dried cherries, espresso with cracked coffee beans on top, or white chocolate and pretzel with pink sprinkles).
I sewed the bag halfway and then added the chocolate and finished sewing the heart.

I only had a two ripped bags and ended up with about 45 cute little packets.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Vacation Rewind - Washington DC Labor Day 2012

We took advantage of a great last minute air fare and headed to Washington DC for Labor Day weekend. It is one of those places that is so close but we just don't go visit enough.

This trip we actually went to a museum that has a paid admission - crazy in a town of world class free museums, I know! But the International Spy Museum was well worth the price of admission. We went early and made it through before it was too crowded. When you enter you pick an alias with a cover story and as you progress through the museum, you are tested to see if you can remember the details of your cover story and your mission. They also had a special exhibit with the actual items used in the CIA mission that was recently made in to the movie 'Argo'. It was pretty cool to see the pieces of history right before the movie was released. If you go, go early. There is so much to see and read you want to take your time and not fight the crowds.

There are several NYC restaurants that have popped up in DC. One of our favorites was Luke's Lobster - a New England style lobster roll is a perfect lunch. It was so good, I ate there two days in a row. (I just had to go check out a vintage jewelry shop so we split up for a bit on Sunday. The shop was awesome, it was chock full of fabulous pieces. Of course the owner was a wacky but very friendly woman who really listened to my tastes and helped me pick some great pieces of jewelry.)

Saturday afternoon we stopped at the National Archives. There was a line to get in, but it wasn't too long of a wait. Seeing the Declaration of Independence is well worth any line.

The Museum of American History is one of my favorite Smithsonian museums. They have changed the entrance over the years, currently a stylized American flag welcomes visitors. Behind the wall is the actual flag that inspired the Star Spangled Banner.

Sunday we spent most of the day at the Air and Space museum. They have a new section featuring the Wright Brothers and their historical flight. When we were in the exhibit there was a very knowledgeable docent telling the story of the Wright Brothers and answering questions. It was very interactive and full of good information.

Sunday night we made a late night visit to the Lincoln Memorial. The Lincoln Memorial is truly inspiring at night; the lighting makes the seated figure of Lincoln more dramatic than during the day.

Michael reading the inscription on the walls inside the Lincoln Memorial.

Monday we headed to the US Capitol for a tour.

It has been a very long time since I've visited the Capitol and they have a new visitors center and tour. You need advance tickets for the tour (yes, we had a reservation for the tour), but the visitors center is open to anyone, no reservation required.

The tour is free and lasts about an hour. We had a very quirky tour guide and she made it fun. You visit three different rooms in the Capitol building. The entire tour group wears a set of headphones and your tour guide talks in to a microphone. This allows multiple tour groups to be in the same room and no one is shouting over one another. It is all very high tech.

This plaque represents the spot where John Quincy Adams had his desk, we all got to touch the spot! Of course I am wearing my very comfortable Crocs ballet flats (the black open toe flat shoe towards the bottom of the pix).

It's the statue of Ronald Regan - the base has pieces of the Berlin Wall.

And one more thing I have never done in DC before, visit the Library of Congress. There is a passage between the US Capitol and the Library of Congress. We walked in air conditioned comfort from one building to the other.

Normally you can only look down at the big reading room in the Library of Congress, but because we were there on a holiday they let the visitors go wild and take photos.

The Library also has wings full of great exhibits. When we were in there, there was an entire section dedicated to first edition books.

All around the ceiling there were famous quotes.

A look back at the US Capitol building. As always, vacation is too short and there are still too many things to do and places to eat!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A 'Wicked' Saturday Night

This past Saturday night was fabulous because not only did I see a great show but....

For every performance of Wicked there is a lottery rush for tickets. 26 front row seats are given away in a lottery and each ticket is just $30!

I was so excited when they called my name. I have wanted to see Wicked for quite a while now and then to get a front row seat for such an amazing price was just the perfect storm of awesome.

The seat and the show did not disappoint. The music was so incredible and being so close you could see how much the performers put in to every song and every bit of dialogue. I could make eye contact with performers and I could see every detail in the costumes.

My favorite was the end of act one when Elphaba sings 'Defying Gravity'. I've heard the song before and I was looking forward to the song in the show. It totally exceeded my expectations - I had goosebumps as the curtains closed for intermission.

The story of Wicked is really clever and the songs move the story forward seamlessly. I would absolutely recommend this show and see it again.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Christmas 2012 Crafts

Every Christmas I always have more crafts planned than I actually complete.

This year I wanted to get everything done in November so I could enjoy December (ha! a pipe dream in a normal year and this year was anything but normal). As it turns out, the week after Thanksgiving I was in North Carolina for a short work trip and then the entire second week of December I was in Utah for work. Both were last minute trips and really made for a very busy first week of December (and a very messy apartment filled with projects in various states, no kitchen counter space, wrapped packages, and shipping boxes both incoming and outgoing).

Based on the success of my 'cake in a jar' over the summer I baked rum cakes in mason jars. I also tried something new and did some canning. I made a savory onion jam, it is a nice sandwich spread and is also tasty on great on grilled cheese. And I made pickles! It is something I've wanted to do for at least a year and it really wasn't too difficult. I want to work on perfecting my pickle recipe and then go crazy pickling this summer. (I forgot to take photos of my cute mason jars, thanks to Pinterest I learned cupcake wrappers fit perfectly underneath a mason jar lid for an easy decorative top.)

For all of my work friends in Utah I pulled out the rein-beer craft from last year. On Black Friday I stopped in at Michael's Crafts and stocked up on fuzzy red noses, pipe cleaners, and google eyes just in case I needed them. I hauled all of that with me to Utah and even my trusty glue gun too. Once there I hit up the local Target for root beer and then spent about an hour one night making a herd of rein beers. They were a big hit and lots of fun for me to hand out to my work buddies. 

For my friends with the dragon baby, I finished up a dragon onesie. I had a pretty good head start on the intricate design so the only hard part was picking the thread colors. I wanted it to be fun and bright so I picked colors I don't normally use. I really like the finished dragon with his bright blue eyes and fiery scales.

I had my second Liberty quilt completed pretty early, which is good because a quilt isn't a last minute project (at least for me).  I think it was done by October - I just had to sew the binding and I waited for the weather to cool down because that work is by hand and you have a quilt on you as you sew, not much fun in the middle of summer.

This quilt was put together the same as my quilt, just a different color scheme. I did the same thing with the selvage strips; I had them on the back of the couch during the day and I moved them around until I found a pattern I loved. The backing on this quilt is all Liberty, it is a turquoise background with a brown design that has little hidden cats. The girl that helped me pick it out said some people didn't like the fabric because of the cats but of course I thought it was just perfect.

And the same as my quilt, it is a cat favorite! Cats have very good taste.

I did some 'upcycling' and made some gift boxes out of my empty Birchbox boxes. Birchbox is a monthly subscription for new beauty products; for a small fee you get a box of about 5 beauty product samples. The packaging is really cute and the samples have all been very nice. I pretty much use everything I get each month. The samples come in a really nice and sturdy cardboard box. Of course I don't throw them away (I can be such a hoarder) and for the holidays I used them as gift boxes. I painted the original box either gold or a metallic pearl and then I used old Christmas cards to decorate the top of the box (so many people make photo cards my pile of regulard cards was pretty small). Recycling at it's finest. I hope the people that received the boxes keep them and use them again next year. These were a fun and quick project, always a good thing!

And finally while I was in California I put together a couple of flower arrangements. I found this great vase for sale at a flower shop down the street. I shipped the vase to CA and knew I was going to use it to make and arrangement for MomO's bday. My first plan was to make it a mix of fresh flowers and little cupcakes with a cupcake sitting right on top. But with all of the sweets over the holidays by the time I was ready to pull the arrangement together cupcakes didn't sound very tasty. I found some beautiful roses at Von's and used up the left over greens and fill from the cookie exchange. It turned out great and made a really nice centerpiece for the dining room table.

And with the left over flowers and fill I was able to make and arragement for this cute vase.Thanks for the oasis and extra vase Selma!

I am telling myself I need to get started on the things I didn't finish (or even start) last year so I can have some really nice handmade gifts this coming Christmas. We all know, per usual, I'll wait until the last minute!