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Data in Pictures

imageI recently celebrated my fifth anniversary at my workplace.  This was quite a feat, as I’ve never worked anywhere that long – I also never planned to stay at my job past five years.  And here I am, loving my work so much, I can’t imagine leaving.  To learn more about this work, check out this new page.

Over the past five years, I seemed to become known as the office go-to person for emerging technologies including social media.  I’m not sure how this happened.  It might have been my age – I’m on the tail end of Generation X and thusly have had more experience with technology in earlier stages of my life – as compared to my coworkers.  Ultimately, however, I think it’s my general love for new technologies (as discussed here), and specifically, how we can use them to our benefit in the higher education sector.

For quite some time, I’ve been drooling over infographics (check out Cool Infographics to view multiple samples).  Infographics share data and knowledge in a quick and visually pleasing way.  Unfortunately, unlike my graphic designer husband, I am not trained in advanced programs (I’m specifically thinking about the Adobe suite) and cannot create an infographic on my own.

Enter online programs and apps that cater to such wannabes as myself.  If I ever needed to create and distribute a high quality infographic to a large constituency, I would consider working with a graphic designer.  However, in the interim, there are a plethora of programs available to make using infographics easy for the layman.

I did a little research of my own, and settled on Grafio, an app for iOS.  I downloaded the free version to my iPad (though, I ultimately installed the paid version after playing around awhile and deciding that this was the app for me).  Grafio allowed me to not only create an infographic, but print one – which was something I was looking for.

Service since 2011 infographicMy boss asked me to prepare something that he could use at a meeting to share some valuable statistics.  I’m proud to share this data with you on the little infographic (to the left) I designed for him.  What do you think of my first try?

I’m looking forward to integrating what I’ve learned from this project into my classroom.  This will be a great way to share information with students.  However, I think this would also make for an interesting assignment for students.  Because there are so many free infographic tools out there, it would be easy enough to incorporate into an assignment and it would be a great skill for the students to learn.  I would love to see how creatively the students can visually represent or interpret basic data.

So, what do you think?  Do you use infographics for anything?  Are there any programs out there that you recommend?

 

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Number Five is Alive

Oooh, I hope there are some children of the 80’s out there who get that reference.

So, my post doesn’t really have anything to do with the classic robot movie of the 80’s as it does with the actual number five.  And my adorable nephew.

IMG_0294Tomorrow this cutie turns five.  I can’t believe it!  I was lucky enough to be in town when he was born and hold him in my arms that very day.

When I was working on the streamer backdrop for my wedding, this kid was particularly interested in the project and wanted the leftovers to hang in his room.  So, I developed a little project for his fifth birthday using the leftover materials and some other cardboard scraps I had lying around.

First off, I was inspired by this post on Oh Happy Day and, as per usual, she provides great detailed instructions.  Because of this, I won’t bother going through the step-by-step instructions.  However, I’ll share some tips with the photos included below.

First, a quick review of the supply list.  Luckily, I had all of the supplies on hand, so this project cost me all of $0.00 out of pocket.  Most items can probably be found around one’s house (with the exception of the crepe paper), making this project a great way to add a lot of drama at very little cost.

Here’s what you need:

  • Large cardboard box
  • Masking tape
  • Modge Podge glue (or any clear glue of your choice)
  • Paint Brush
  • Paint (optional)
  • X-Acto knife or box cutter
  • Scissors
  • Crepe paper (oodles leftover from the aforementioned streamer project)

Check out the photo gallery for the process and lessons learned along the way.

So, that’s it.  What do you think of the final product?  Have you created any low-cost crafts lately?

"It's what's for dinner." Animals line the walls of the Buckhorn Exchange.

Denver, My Heart

imageWe recently returned home from a whirlwind trip to my second favorite state (after my home state of CA, of course) of Colorful Colorado to watch my BFF and the beauty at the left (Heather) marry one heckuva cool guy (Nick) at the most picturesque place on the planet.

I met Heather while we simultaneously earned our graduate degrees in International Human Rights from the University of Denver.  While there, I absolutely fell in love with the city and miss it constantly (though I am happy to be back in CA and near my family and at a job I love).

This most recent visit was only the Husband’s second time to the Rocky State and I’m pleased to report that he loves it as much as I do.  Do I see a potential retirement home in our future? Hmmmm….

Here are a few snapshots from the quick trip.  Enjoy!

The Husband enjoying a ride on RTD light rail.

The Husband enjoying a ride on RTD light rail.

A Place to Stay & Getting Around

The La Quinta Inn Cherry Creek on Colorado Blvd and Buchtel is a favorite place to stay.  It’s very reasonably priced, a block away from the Colorado Station light rail stop and right off the 25, excuse me, I 25 (can’t let my CA dialect offend the locals).  Despite being next to a freeway and major roadway, it is surprisingly quiet.

While living in Denver, I used the top-rated public transportation system known as the RTD or drove my super awesome scooter (oh, I miss you Baby Blue!) to get around.  The RTD is a combination light rail and bus system and is extremely user friendly.  Unless one is planning to drive out of the main metro area when visiting Denver, I recommend relying on the oh-so-easy to use public transportation.  During my tenure as a resident, I loved hopping on the bus or train, opening a book or just looking out the window, until my stop – stress free travel all the way.

Dinner Time

"It's what's for dinner." Animals line the walls of the Buckhorn Exchange.

“It’s what’s for dinner.” Animals line the walls of the Buckhorn Exchange.

Denver is full of culinary treats and each time I visit, I try to make a point to hit my favorites.  On Sunday night, however, we made reservations at an eatery new to both Darrin and me.  The Buckhorn Exchange, famous for being the first restaurant in town, was established in the 1890’s and continues to operate in the same location.  It’s conveniently located at the 10th and Osage light rail stop, making dinner cocktails a safe choice.  The Buckhorn specializes in game and meat in general; the walls are decorated with the history of the kitchen’s conquests.  Vegetarians and anti-hunting activists should shy away from this place.  However, as carnivores, Darrin and I found the food to be delicious, though slightly overpriced.  I ordered elk with garlic mashed potatoes and they were both fantastic – the elk cooked perfectly.  The menu features great anecdotes of the restaurant’s colorful history including a robbery gone awry in the early part of the 20th century.  Wild West, indeed!

No filters are used on the photo of this delicious dessert from Le Central.  Profiteroles, ice cream, real chocolate, and almonds.  What could go wrong?

No filters are used on the photo of this delicious dessert from Le Central. Profiteroles, ice cream, real chocolate, and almonds. What could go wrong?

The Perfect Lunch

The next day, we had a deliciously long lunch at my favorite French restaurant, Le Central on 8th Avenue.  Touting itself as the “affordable” French restaurant, Le Central specializes in mussels but also offers a weekly changing menu.  As a reference point, we ate and drank more at Le Central than we did the night before at The Buckhorn and our bill was 1/2 as much at the French restaurant.  We started with cocktails and a charcuterie plate which was plenty to fill us up.  However, we ascribed to the “when in Rome” philosophy and decided to push forward in our tasting tour.  A few bites of my entree later (a delectable panini) and I asked for a box in order to save room for dessert.  And boy, was I glad I did.  Profiteroles, sliced open to make room for ice cream, and swimming in real chocolate was enough to send me over the edge.  But, of course, I insisted on tipping myself over by ordering a glass of champagne.  Darrin’s brioche pain perdu (bread pudding) in warm caramel sauce, was nothing to scoff at.  The wait staff was fabulously patient with us as we slowly made our way through the menu and let things settle before venturing back out into the light of day.

Other Stops

If you find yourself in my beloved Denver, there are a few other places I’d recommend – some new, some old, and all I visited on my most recent trip.

The Old Standby - The Stadium Inn

The Old Standby – The Stadium Inn

  • Wash Park Grille is located in one of the first little sub-neighborhoods I discovered while living in Denver.  On the corner of Gaylord & Mississippi, this spot has a nice happy hour and a great ambience both inside and out.  The patio is dog friendly – an important value for a town overrun by dog-lovers.
  • Highlands Cork & Cafe is nestled away in the (you guessed it) Highlands neighborhood on 32nd Avenue in an old renovated home.  I made my first visit to this combination coffee house and wine bar to connect with Erin, my old college roommate, and I really enjoyed the atmosphere.  The staff was especially friendly and Erin’s breakfast tacos looked delicious.
  • Trompeau Bakery was originally located down the street from the University of Denver while I was a student (a dangerous fact, indeed).  It has since relocated to S. Broadway in Englewood and is well worth the detour.  I highly recommend the almond chocolate croissant (if you can get there before they sell out).  I’m pretty sure they are what heaven would taste like, if heaven had a taste.
  • Last stop on this short tour is The Stadium Inn.  Also located near the DU campus on Evans, “The Old Standby” is the original dive bar for my introduction to Colorado dive bars.  And I love dive bars.  Darrin and I got a beer and whiskey sour for $6 and enjoyed a sweet game of pool for $1.  How’s that for budget travel?  I prefer to visit the Stadium earlier in the afternoon before the undergraduate crowd settles in (I’m talking about the early twenties crowd), but that’s my personal preference.  During the school season, I recall the place picking up just before closing as it was a favored “last-stop” of students before walking home.

So, there you have it folks.  That’s my take on my latest trip to one of my favorite American cities.  It won’t be the last word on the town from me as Darrin and I make trips back to the Mile High city on a fairly frequent basis.

-mjh

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Music Friday: Romance in Unlikely Places

For this week’s Music Friday, I wanted to share a couple of my favorite romantic songs in honor of the upcoming wedding of my two favorite Coloradans – Ezzy and Nico.  I’m dedicating two of my favorite “unlikely” romantic songs.  I say unlikely because at first listen, these songs might sound as though they weren’t intended to be love songs, but I believe that at their core, they are.

The first song is older, but a favorite.  Death Cab for Cutie’s Passenger Seat is probably one of the most romantic songs I’ve ever heard.  It is so simple in its description of two people enjoying a moment together.  The emotion that develops out of that moment is touching and results in a favorite line: “when you feel embarrassed, I’ll be your pride / when you need direction, I’ll be your guide / for all time”

Check it out below then buy it (actually, do yourself a favor and buy the whole Transatlanticism album) at iTunes or at Amazon:

The next song is a new one off of Vampire Weekend’s latest album Modern Vampires of the City.  At first listen, I loved this song for the beat.  But, after a few more plays and hearing the lyrics repeat, it seemed to be about a partnership.  This song gives me a sense of “us against the world” and I feel like there’s nothing more romantic than that.

Take a listen, then pick it up at iTunes or Amazon:

So, what do you think?  What are some “unlikely” romantic songs that you favor?

-mjh

sandi wedding_cuatro de mayo 027

Always a Bridesmaid…And Loving It

For my inaugural Wedding Wednesday post I’ve decided to write about a topic on which I consider myself to be a bit of an expert. This month, I’ll serve as an attendant to my tenth bride. That’s right folks, 10 – I’ve hit the double digits.  While some gals might lament this fact and complain about the money spent or collection of questionable gowns, I count myself lucky to have so many friends who consider me special enough to include in their wedding day.

One of the early weddings, though not the first, was for my dear friend, Angela.  Note the disposable camera in my hand.  Many of the pictures from those early days are "analog" and not available for posting.

One of the early weddings, though not the first, was for my dear friend, Angela. Note the disposable camera in my hand. Many of the pictures from those early days are “analog” and not available for posting.

I was in my first wedding at age 21 in 2001 and my 11th wedding (including my own) will be this month at the tail end of my 33rd year (2013). Over the span of these dozen years, I’ve experienced and seen it all.  I’ve been maid of honor (3x); travelled for weddings (4x); thrown countless bridal showers and bachelorette parties (many of which took place in that bachelorette haven of Las Vegas); worn ball gowns, long dresses, short dresses, tea-length, strapless, halter tops, spaghetti straps, and v-necks; had my hair done, did my own hair, and re-did what someone else did to my hair; basically you name it, I’ve worn it or seen it or heard it. For years, friends used to joke that I should write my own Bridesmaid’s Survival Guide.

Well today, in honor of all those beautiful brides I’ve served and in preparation of my 10th attendant duty, I’m making my first attempt at sharing my advice for wedding attendants.  I’ve got a wealth of knowledge that could extend into a lengthy post, so in order to keep things relatively brief, I’m sharing my thoughts with a bit of a theme.

The wedding day can be an emotional one – for everyone involved.  When watching your BFF/sister/cousin/female soulmate marry, all sorts of things can come to the surface.  Here are my thoughts on how to navigate an emotionally charged weekend and make it the best!

“But, I Thought We We’re BFF’s!” – Managing Multiple Relationships

The childhood playmate, favorite cousin, college roommate, new in-laws, etc. – ladies (and gents) representing an important  period in the Bride’s life typically make-up the bridal party.  It’s not uncommon for members of each of these groups to be oblivious to the existence of the other or worse, oblivious to the value of the other’s role in the Bride’s life.  On more than one occasion, I was the “johnny-come-lately” amongst a group of childhood friends who held a set of shared beliefs and inside jokes that I simply didn’t get.  I could either (a) sit in the corner and pout about being “left out” or (b) dive-in and enjoy learning more about the friend whom I loved so dearly.

The important thing to remember is that the bride picked you for a reason.  Have confidence and faith in your friendship and it will free you up to enjoy the company of others.

I introduced this bride (Sandi) and groom (Matt) to one another.  I was so honored to be included in their special day.

I introduced this bride (Sandi) and groom (Matt) to one another. I was so honored to be included in their special day.

“I Flew All the Way Out Here and I’ve Barely had a Conversation with the Bride.”

Have you looked at a wedding schedule lately?  From the start of events at the rehearsal to the time the bride and groom depart the reception, there is always something happening.  Pictures are being taken, hair is being done, toasts are being made, dances are being danced, guests are being greeted – and somewhere in all of that the happy couple is getting married and trying to sneak in some alone time.

I have to confess that some of my most cherished memories as a bridesmaid/maid of honor are those just before the ceremony began and I gave the bride a big hug before walking down the aisle.  It was a special moment between my friend (or in a couple of cases my sisters) and me.  In a weekend of go-go-go, I had one second to slow down and express my love and support.

Instead of wallowing in the lack of interaction with the busy bride and groom, let the excitement of the weekend (and the myriad of activities) sweep you away.  As a member of the behind-the-scenes crew, there will be a chance for a special moment.  When it comes, take advantage of it and cherish it.  Then, hold the bride and groom to plans to connect in the future when things are less busy and they aren’t out of their minds with stress/plans/wedding afterglow.

Here I am walking with the Best Man at my sister's wedding.  I was so happy with my hair - that might be why I'm smiling so big!

Here I am walking with the Best Man at my sister’s wedding. I was so happy with my hair – that might be why I’ve got such a big, cheesy smile!

Remember My Golden Rule for Wedding Attendants: It’s Not About You

If you make this your mantra, no matter what you encounter, things will go smoothly.  So, you may not like putting your hair in an up-do per the bride’s request.  But, if it’s her preference, go for it.  It’s one day and such a simple request to fulfill.  Over the years, I spent so much wasted time worried about how I looked in my bridesmaid dress.  The truth is, the majority of wedding guests probably didn’t give me a second look – they are at the wedding for the bride and groom.

*An extra note here, if you do decide to suck-it-up and deal with something you don’t like for the sake of the bride (i.e. a dress you don’t like) don’t spend the whole wedding complaining about it to the rest of the bridal party.  Those girls/guys are there for the bride, too, and they don’t want to spend every spare moment listening to you whine about how “salmon is not your color” or you “detest open-toed shoes.”  Let the little things go and enjoy yourself!

Ultimately, I hope you’ll relax and have fun.  That’s my plan for the upcoming nuptials of my good friend.  I’m so happy for her and I know that by being there to support her and help her in any way I can, I’ll make her day that much better (it’s already going to be great simply because she’s marrying the man of her dreams).

So, what are your thoughts?  What is your advice for managing the emotions of the special day of your friend?

I'm currently reading this memoir by Doris Kearns Goodwin along with my dad.  I look forward to sharing my thoughts on the book in a new book review feature.

Changing Lanes

Well folks, sadly it’s been a few months since I’ve posted to this blog.  Since my last post, work was at its peak.  The spring semester is most often the busiest for me, and while I love the work, it leaves little time (and energy) for extracurricular writing such as this.

During this hectic time, I found myself in need of reflection (via writing) on my work in addition to the other things I typically write about (like crafts and home life).  But, at the time I did not feel that this blog was the appropriate outlet for writing about work.

After a while, though, I started to question this.  Why couldn’t this blog be a place for me to write about my work or anything else in my life for that matter?

I was so proud of my leadership students presenting at a conference in Portland this past spring. This is something I would have loved to share with the Merging Lanes readership.

I originally created Merging Lanes to document and reflect on the process of joining two lives together (my husband’s and mine).  Why couldn’t it also be about the merging going on within my life?  Certainly there is a convergence of my work and home life.  And not only is it appropriate for me to write about this experience, but it’s also healthy.

The main concern is, of course, that a reader who is interested in what I have to write about regarding challenges and successes at work, may not be interested in the latest DIY project I completed at home, and vice versa.  However,  I’m interested in both of these areas (and more) – we are a complex people.  Surely, I’m not the only person with a passion for higher education and DIY wedding crafts.  And if I am, today’s technology makes it possible for a fan of either interest to quickly and easily find what he or she is looking for within these webpages via categories and tags.

Ultimately, I realize that this blog is mostly read by me and therefore is written for me.  I am not so self-inflated to think I have an audience of hundreds to serve.  However, if anyone out there in the ether is reading and is upset by the changes that Merging Lanes is about to undergo, I offer my sincerest apologies.

Finally, I am also aware that this month marks the two-year anniversary of this blog – a definite record for me.  In honor of the anniversary and to keep things from going stale, I believe some changes are in order.

You’ll first note that I’ve made changes to the appearance of the blog.  Over the course of the next month or so, I will also be adding some additional pages to help organize the new content I will be adding.

I'm currently reading this memoir by Doris Kearns Goodwin along with my dad.  I look forward to sharing my thoughts on the book in a new book review feature.

I’m currently reading this memoir by Doris Kearns Goodwin, along with my dad. I’m excited to share my thoughts on it in a new book review feature.

 

As for the content, here are some things to expect:

  • Wedding Wednesdays will be a new feature, highlighting projects completed for my own wedding as well as things I find interesting around the web.
  • I’ll continue New Music Friday’s (instituted this past year).  It has been a fun addition that I enjoy writing.
  • Other content areas will include: reflections on work, continued posts on completed crafts and other home life related topics (like entertaining, decorating, etc.), and the addition of book reviews.

I look forward to continuing to share the merging process with you.  Thanks for reading.

-mjh

My favorite photo captured by our photographer.  My husband and I dancing up a storm with the streamer backdrop catching a breeze behind us.

Stream On

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything about our wedding, and I promised here to share details on the DIY projects that made the day happen.  So, in order to not break promises, today I thought I’d spill the beans on the  big focal point of our reception – the streamer backdrop.

I was actually inspired to do this pretty late in the game, with only a few months left ’til the wedding.  But, this project seemed so simple and inexpensive that I simply couldn’t resist.  First, I’ve got to share my inspiration.

Rachel’s (of Heart of Light) inspirational backdrop. Click on the photo to be taken to the blog article at 100 Layer Cake featuring her amazing instructions.

How beautiful is that?!  When I stumbled upon this photo, I was smitten and knew such a simple decoration would fit right in with our backyard reception, while adding some drama.  Rachel created this backdrop herself and provided very helpful instructions.  Please visit the  source article to view those instructions.

Rachel also directs folks to Oh Happy Day, where she learned to make fringey streamers.  This tutorial was also so helpful.  I also found that I LOVED this blog and fell in love with a number of additional articles featured there.  I highly recommend stopping by.

So, with both tutorials at my fingertips, I got to work.  I purchased my crepe paper from crepepaperstore.com per Rachel’s suggestion.  The online store had great prices.  My husband (or fiance at the time) was tasked with buying wooden dowels from the hardware store. We bought four, 5′ dowels for a total of twenty feet of backdrop.  I also bought silver foil curtains from Amazon (it was the same price on Amazon as at Oriental Trading where Rachel made the purchase, but I got free shipping on Amazon).  And I already had hot glue gun supplies.

After my supplies were gathered, I arranged my crepe paper and prepped all of my streamers.  Then I arranged them by color to make it easier for me to see which colors I wanted to use while I was applying them to the dowels.

My crepe paper ready for dowel attachment.

My crepe paper ready for dowel attachment.

I filled one dowel at a time.  I completed the first dowel at my home, attached the foil curtain to the back, wrapped it in a sheet and transported it to my sister’s house (the reception site) – all per Rachel’s instructions.  When I got to my sister’s, and we unrolled the streamers, we found that the foil backdrop had gotten extremely tangled and it took us quite a while to sort everything out.  I was so concerned because everything felt so delicate and I still had three more dowels to complete.  Then, my sister had a bright idea – why don’t I put everything together at her house.  Then we wouldn’t have to worry about transporting anything.  My sister – so smart!!

I spent the next couple of weekends at her house building the backdrop.  I think my favorite part about this project was getting the extra time with my four-year old nephew and ring bearer, Ricky.  He was very interested in what I was doing.  He was caught up in the excitement of the big event taking place at his house.  He assured me that he was going to have a wedding of his own and he was also rather interested in getting one of the streamer dowels installed in his bedroom.  But, of all of our conversations, I think my favorite went something like this:

Ricky: Auntie, you’re getting married.
Me: Yes, I know.  Are you excited for the wedding?
Ricky: Yes. And I’m going to look handsome and you’re going to be beautiful… Mommy said so.

I think my heart about burst out of my chest at that.

But, back to the streamer project.  We finished everything on time.  When deciding where to hang the dowels we discovered that the foil curtain continued to get tangled up whenever the slightest breeze blew, so I decided not to add anymore of it to the remaining three dowels.  My brother-in-law and his dad hung up the streamers the morning of the wedding and it was and is the hit of the party.

This backdrop helped create some of my favorite photos caught by our photographer.  It served as the backdrop for toasts and the dance floor and over all was the least expensive way to add drama, style, to our wedding celebration.

My favorite photo captured by our photographer.  My husband and I dancing up a storm with the streamer backdrop catching a breeze behind us.

My favorite photo captured by our photographer. My husband and I dancing up a storm with the streamer backdrop catching a breeze behind us.

My beautiful sisters, and matrons of honor, making a toast in front of the streamer project

My beautiful sisters, and matrons of honor, making a toast in front of the streamer project.

What do you think?  Do you have any similar backdrops that you’ve created for parties or weddings?

An example of my first treat bag for our niece, Mary.

A Homemade Valentine

Okay, I know this one is a bit late.  But, I didn’t want to post what I was working on until after I gave the gifts I created to their recipients.

Each year, I create little Valentine packages for our local nieces and nephews.  I will usually go to Target and pick-up a plastic bucket from the dollar aisle, add candy to it, et voila a completed valentine for the kiddos.  This year, the only thing I bought from Target was the candy.  I was determined to make my own receptacles for the goodies.

At home, I gathered my supplies:

  • Scissors
  • Colored paper (two shades of red, and a mint green for contrast)
  • Letter stickers
  • Tape
  • Brown lunch bags (of which I have hundreds left over from the wedding)
  • Cellophane bags (also wedding leftovers)

Then, I set to work.  I cut out multiple hearts in various sizes.  I would need enough for five bags (four for the nieces and nephews and one for my folks).

I arranged some hearts on a bag until I found the design I liked.  Then I taped them down.  I added letter stickers for the name of the recipient.  On a couple of the bags (for the older kids) I added a scrapbook sticker with a special quote.

An example of my first treat bag for our niece, Mary.

An example of my first treat bag for our niece, Mary.

Each of the bags only took about five – ten minutes and were rather fun to create.  When they were done, I lined them up and started to divide the candy.  Some of the candy – like Jelly Beans and M&M’s – didn’t come in individual packaging.  So, those went into a cellophane bag.  I ended up adding some other colorful candy to the bag as shown below.

Valentine shades look sweet altogether.

Valentine shades look sweet altogether.

I tied off each bag with a silver tie and added it to the brown bag.  The whole project could not have taken me more than an hour and as I said before was a lot of fun to work on.

Here are some shots of the final products.

Something special for Mary and Jacob.

Something special for Mary and Jacob.

Presents for my other Valentines, nephews Ryan, Ricky, and my folks.

Presents for my other Valentines, nephews Ryan, Ricky, and my folks.

So, what do you think?  Did you make any homemade Valentines?  What did you do?

A close-up of the shelf.  Now, I'm looking for a great piece of art, dominated by light colors to hang on the wall just above it.

A Quick Update

Last month I had an extra day off of work and decided to use it to get some things done around the house.  I’m pretty sure I was a domestic goddess.  In the midst of my cleaning, cooking, and laundry, I took notice of a bookshelf in our living room that just kept bothering me.  It simply looked a mess.  But, I wasn’t sure what I could do with it.  Books were neatly arranged on it, but every time my eye wandered over to it, everything just felt amiss.

I wish I had a “before” picture to show you.  Unfortunately, I still haven’t caught on to the need to take such photos.  So, I’ll just have to ask you to trust me on this one.  Anyway, while I was cleaning, I found myself standing in front of the bookshelf and wondering what to do.  And then it hit me.  I had already pinned some inspiration a while back.

I’ve actually got a pinterest board dedicated to my obsession for books – but that’s a post for a whole other day.

So, with my inspiration photo in mind, I got to work. I removed all the books from the shelf and grouped them by color.  I started with basic color groups like black, blue, green, red, yellow, white, etc.  I pretty much started with primary colors.

After I had these main groups organized, I pulled out sub-groups if any emerged.  For instance, in the yellow group, I felt like there were enough beiges and golds that were quite different from the yellow.  So, those colors got their own group.

Finally, I re-shelved the books, according to color, starting with the darkest colors on the bottom and worked my way up to the top.  What I have now, is a bookshelf organized by color but much more pleasing to view.  (This would be a really great moment for a “from this to this” photo.  Argh!)  Check it out:

The completed bookshelf.  Much more pleasing to the eye.

The completed bookshelf. Much more pleasing to the eye.

A close-up of the shelf.  Now, I'm looking for a great piece of art, dominated by light colors to hang on the wall just above it.

A close-up of the shelf. Now, I’m looking for a great piece of art, dominated by light colors to hang on the wall just above it.

I think one of my favorite things about this is that during college I used to work at a bookstore.  On more that one occasion, a customer would come into the store and become infuriated with the staff when we couldn’t help them find a book based on its color. The conversation would go something like this:

Customer: “I’m looking for a book.”
Me: “Great!  What’s it called?”
Customer: “I don’t know, but it has a blue cover.”
Me: “Uh.  Okay.  Who is the author.”
Customer: “I don’t know, but it has a blue cover.”
Me: “Uh. Er. Um. Do you know what it’s about?”
Customer: “A girl. It has a blue cover.  Don’t you know the book?”
Me: “We don’t organize the books by color.”
Customer: “Is there a manager?”

If only that customer could see me now!

What do you think?  Any quick updates or quick fIxes you’ve made lately?

Music Friday: Heartthrob

Currently spinning

This week, I’ve had Tegan and Sara’s latest album, “Heartthrob” spinning out of control in my car, making my commute to and from work absolute heaven.  I’ve been a fan of these gals for some time (I’ve seen them live three times – yep, I might be bragging), but their latest contribution just might be my favorite.  Which, is saying something.

I was first turned on to the sisters when I purchased a soundtrack (I went through a huge soundtrack phase many years ago) and this song was featured:

A good friend of mine (shout out to Sandi) was already a big Tegan and Sara fan and proceeded to conduct my education.  I’ve got so many favorites and perhaps I’ll have to devote a Music Friday to sharing a top ten list (as impossible a task as that seems).

Today, though, I want to spend more time on Heartthrob.  It seems rare these days that I get a new CD where there isn’t at least one song I feel like skipping.  But, every song on this album is amazing.  The lyrics (which the girls have always been rather adept at writing) are so powerful.  A couple of the “break-up” tracks, like “How Come  You Don’t Want Me,” and “Now I’m All Messed Up” are heartbreakingly awesome.  They’re songs you can really sink your teeth into.

Though it’s difficult for me to pick a favorite, “Drove Me Wild” continues to drive me wild (Ha ha – cheesy, I know).  But seriously, this song has been sticking with me.  Check out this video of the girls talking about the song (they actually did one of these for each of the tracks on the album), then go here to stream the entire track:

Any other Tegan and Sara fans out there?  What are your favorite songs?