Thursday, April 25, 2013

Photo Finish

Back from a long weekend trip to our nation's capital, and I've got inspiration on the brain!

In all of my work trips over the last eight years, and far-flung vacations, I had never made it to Washington D.C. so planning a spring trip for 2013 was heavy on my radar as I looked at the year ahead. With a few of Bob's friends living in Baltimore, we combined the trip to take advantage of seeing a play written and directed by Bob's best friend, Aldo Pantoja. If you find yourself in the Baltimore area, check out Single Carrot Theatre!
But, back to D.C. - we walked...and walked...and walked...I think my feet were ready to fly back home without me after how much we walked between the actual museum tours and just getting from place to place! 

We hit up the Capitol, took far away photos of the White House, paid respects to Bob's Navy Admiral Uncle buried at Arlington Cemetery, covered a fair share of the Smithsonian museums, made 1 too many references to the Nic Cage movie "National Treasure" at the Archives and received this disapproving look from Mr. Lincoln for not seeing the Spielberg movie yet.
One of the highlights of the trip was the Newseum. Well worth the price of admission (the Smithsonian museums we went to were all free of charge), this museum focuses on journalism and the history of world events told through "the news". Exhibits included FBI's greatest cases and how they were chronicled in the papers, unaltered portions of the Berlin Wall and a 9/11 gallery with a wall full of newspaper front pages from the day.
One of the most emotional exhibits was the Pulitzer Prize Winning Photography room. With added stories from the journalists/photographers behind the photos, some of them are striking, some of them are joyous, most of them cause a lump in your throat.

This got me thinking about photography as art in your home. Now, we are no stranger to oversized art. We are lucky enough to have 17 foot ceilings and brick walls for days. Bob's five foot tall painting hangs above the fireplace, and he has a six foot canvas ready for paint as soon as inspiration strikes him. We have photography on a smaller scale featured in our office area, four black and white prints from Bob's college days in Denver. Here's how they were displayed in our previous home on a kitchen wall:
I have a subscription to Elle Decor and always linger on the pages that have an oversized piece of photography hanging in the home like this bustling train station:
If crowd shots aren't your thing, perhaps a view into the lives of famous people? I'm assuming this is Mr. Andy Warhol capturing a model's pose above the fireplace.
A mug shot of The Doors' Jim Morrison against a mirror'd wall in a home gym/office.
Here are a couple "photography as art" clips I have pinned on my "New Home Inspiration" board over the last couple years. Something about this room speaks to me - the light fixture, the threesome of dressed up dancers, the simplicity of the rest of the room.
File this under "funny strange" or possibly "best title ever": Dali with Bride & Ocelot. Can't you just picture this five feet tall, begging to be talked about at a party?
These beg the question, do they have to be in black and white to work in the home? I haven't been able to find much in the way of oversized full color photography in my (less than extensive) Google search. Weigh in on if you think color is "too much" or if we are over-doing the b&w in the art world.

It must be a careful decision to feature large scale photography as such a statement piece, but perhaps one worth exploring! Should we try it out?

Fun Fact: of the photos above, 1 is from the (semi-)home of Semi-Homemade star Sandra Lee and 1 is from the home of Grey's Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo. Try and guess which before clicking on the source links!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Double the Comfort Food

It was 5:00pm at work one day last week when I opened up Pinterest before shutting down my laptop for the day. One pin later and a grocery list was made for dinner that night!

I'm a bit of a mac and cheese connoisseur  If its on the menu at a restaurant, I'm about 67% likely to order it. I have had a go to recipe for homemade cheesy stuff for the last 5 years or so. And beyond the go to one with no more than 4 ingredients, I made a Martha Stewart recipe to die for a few holidays ago.

So when the words Tomato Soup Mac and Cheese stared out at me from the Pinterest wall, I knew we had to try it.
We had to do a little bit of compromising, considering the recipe came from a blog post for a particular brand of dairy product. For our purposes, the store brand ricotta cheese and Kraft cheddar would have to do. I've also tried to jump on the whole wheat pasta bandwagon and just can't do it. It tastes too mealy to me.

1/2 pound elbow macaroni
1 can condensed tomato soup
5 oz ricotta cheese
5 oz shredded cheddar (set aside 1 oz for topping)
10 oz milk (roughly 1 soup can)

Except for the ricotta, the recipe was quite similar to my go to recipe, replacing a can of cheddar cheese soup for tomato to add in extra flavor. 

Mix cooked pasta with ricotta cheese and add milk, tomato soup and 4 oz of cheddar. 
After baking, broil for a few minutes with the remaining cheddar sprinkled on top.
We baked it for 20 minutes at 350 and served up with some leftover Baby Artichoke Salad from the latest issue of Martha Stewart Living. Bob found this when planning out a salad to bring to his family Easter dinner. I have never been a big fan of artichokes, but really enjoyed the taste of this salad. We had to replace pea shoots with a regular spring mix because Whole Foods did not have any in stock.
In the end, I think we could have added a little more spice or flavor to the dish, but it was far from bland and it actually tasted great when re-heated. If we do this one again, I'd probably use a bit less milk to thicken it up - I didn't quite hit the consistency of the pinned photo!
So what about you - have you ever found a random recipe and then had it in the oven within hours?

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Wedding Pinterest Projects That Weren't

I joined Pinterest just a month before I got engaged, and the timing was more than serendipitous. I didn't spend a dime on 350-page wedding magazines filled with dresses I couldn't afford, I didn't have to take to scissors and glue to create my own inspiration binder and I didn't have to sift through the thousands of webpages on theknot.com (even though I did use their checklist feature).

However, there is danger within Pinterest that I have seen many a friend fall victim to:

Overpinning - the act of pinning to the point that it is near impossible to complete any actual project, recipe or idea because of the sheer volume of pins of interest.

For example: a quick search on "green smoothie recipes" results in 15 new pins in one sitting. Or your "places to see" board contains 1,216 pins. The question is, when are you going to take the extra time to make something happen if you've given yourself too many options?

I don't believe I overpin in general, with only 437 pins across 11 boards over the last year and a half, but I will admit to my eyes being bigger than my crafty hands when it came to planned wedding projects. Check out my wedding board for direct links to sources for everything discussed below. I'm still adding to this with a few of my own recap blog posts. You may also notice that the wedding dress I ended up purchasing was one of my early pins!
Bob and I DIY'd more than a dozen elements of our wedding, most of which have been detailed on this blog, including: table numbers, luggage tag favors, card box, lantern centerpieces, altarpiece backdrop, invites and programs, menu cards, hotel gift bags, our save the date and thank you cards. Almost all of these began as a pin on my wedding board. However, a few never made it past the conception phase...

Without further ado, the Wedding Pinterest Projects That Weren't:

String Balloon Balls
Picture this: A loft venue with high ceilings, exposed ductwork and brick walls. White string lights looped along the beams to illuminate down during the reception. Airy, white globes of different sizes hanging above the head table.
It was a nice idea, but the picture below illustrates just how far I went with this one. The time and effort required, not to mention the logistics involved with actually getting all of these hung the day before the wedding put the kibosh on this project. I literally stopped halfway through a balloon and said, "What am I doing this for?"
Aisle Runner Vases
This Pinterest Project had a cute backstory. When Bob proposed to me in the park, he had almost a dozen vases filled with flowers on the bench we ended up at. In an effort to reuse the vases, I tried my hand at spray painting the rubber band-covered glassware. The thought was to line these up along the chairs as aisle runners, the candlelight illuminated through the unpainted sections of the vase. This would also play off of the stripey theme of our invites, programs and cake.
However, my Nervous Nellie nature shook its head at the potential of them being kicked over: loud noises, shattered glass, fire, screaming...Plus, once I got going I wasn't as impressed with how they looked, though I'm sure my spray painting skills would have improved after these first 2 I tried for a Young House Love Pinterest Challenge.
In the end, our centerpiece lanterns pulled double duty and I think made for a more colorful, relevant and fire-proof addition to the ceremony.
Just Married Banner
This one never made it past the pin. Since we used map paper for the table numbers and the escort card wall, I thought of creating background circles of map paper with the letters for "Just Married" spread across. Since the ceremony was in the same location as the reception, the thought was to say "Just About Married" and remove "About" during the cocktail hour.
This was strictly a nice to have and got cut from the roster pretty early on. I wasn't sure how or where in the venue I would have even been able to hang this and didn't need to focus my attention on taking down a banner five minutes after saying "I do!"

Paper Flowers
If I thought the centerpiece yarn balls took me a long time, I can only imagine how many hours I would have slaved away on paper flowers. The idea is valid - I was never picturing a huge bouquet, floral centerpieces or a large presence from the fragrant ones at my wedding so a way around the cost would be to make my own. And here was another way to use map paper....
I tried to make one after watching a youtube video tutorial four times in a row. It did not go well. Let's just say I think there is a reason some of those bouquets on Etsy cost well over $100.
I quickly came to my senses and managed to keep the florist bill under $500 anyway by sticking with simple bouquets, bouts and corsages. I also asked my brother in law to pick up the flowers on his way to the hotel to save on delivery charges. As a bonus, Billy Balls seem to last forever so my bouquet still looks great after seven months.
So there we have it. Four projects that might have added a little something to the wedding, but none that were vital to it. My sanity thanks me for being okay with removing things from the to-do list. Almost as satisfying as crossing the accomplished things off of it!