Upgrade.

upgrade-iphone5

Yep – finally jumping on the bandwagon.  Keep It Neat is keeping it cool: B and I got each other iPhone5’s this week as early Christmas presents to one another.  Unfortunately for me, he already has his to hold and to love, but mine is sitting on a UPS truck somewhere.  But fortunately for me, that’s because I ordered mine through my ever-generous employer who was running a promo – upgrade your Verizon Wireless phone through them and get a $100 prepaid Visa card in the mail.  So I’m waiting on that goodie to come too.

But on to why this is relevant to you.  Upgrading to this new life-changing device required me to do some serious research on the type of case that will be protecting my new purchase.  I was looking for functional and/or fun and came across some good ones worth sharing.

Functional Cases:

These cases all have functionality built in for storing an ID or credit card or two, and some could probably even stow some cash too.  Although I usually carry a big bag, sometimes on weekends I just want to through a few things in my sweatshirt pocket and be on my way.  Same with a quick lunch trip or errand during the week.  These cases would be great for that.  I’m planning to get one to store in my big bag for just those occasions.  Just not sure which one.

The ‘Crossover’ case looks really neat – it has bands that criss-cross the phone and you can slide your stuff underneath them in the back.  I’m not sure it would be the best one to protect the phone since it only covers the corners, but it looks the coolest.

Oh, and FYI you can click on any of these pics to see where I found the item and buy one for yourself.

organized-iphone-cases-crossover

This next one by Griffin is a similar concept, except a little less design-y and it seems to protect the phone more, and possibly store your things a little better.
organized-iphone-cases-griffin-reveal
Moving away from cool-looking-but-maybe-not-the-most-practical and onto kinda-cute-but-more-useful, here are a few more functional cases.  Each one stores things in a ‘secret’ back compartment, the one below by Speck being the most basic.
organized-iphone-cases-speck-smartflexThe thing I like about this one is that it’s a flexible silicone-y case.  I prefer those over hard cases because I feel like they bounce and absorb shock better if/when tossed around.  It makes me feel better to have a squishier case.
The SwitchEasy case is kind of cool too.  It reminds me of those crazy wallets you see in SkyMall magazine.  You can click on the corner button to eject your credit card from its super secret hiding spot.
organized-iphone-cases-switcheasyAnd the last one I found has potential to hold the most small items – really turning your iPhone5 into a true jack of all trades.  A phone-email-TV-radio-internet-wallet machine all in one.  You could get seriously crazy and permanently ditch your purse to just carry this bad boy around: the Stowaway Hard Shell case by Incipio.  Oh and if you don’t want to keep anything in there the flap doubles as a stand so you can prop your device up.  Never ending uses!
organized-iphone-cases-incipio-stowaway
Fun Cases:
These cute cases I found on Etsy come in a few different colors and can be personalized a few different ways.  I like the idea of a single letter monogram in the center.  And I’d probably go with classic white and navy rugby stripes.  I know, I have a problem.  I just love navy too much.  If it were socially acceptable I’d drape myself in navy.  A little Seinfeld reference for you tonight…
fun-iphone-cases-etsy-HarperGray
And then of course how could I NOT check out the J.Crew selection of iPhone cases.  Scratch what I said before, if it were socially acceptable (and lucky for me it IS!) I would drape myself in J.Crew.  Slim pickings for cases for the iPhone5 right now at J.Crew, but this was my favorite of the bunch:
fun-iphone-cases-jcrew
Fun AND Functional:
Bet you didn’t see that coming did you?!  Bam.  This one was extra neat to me.  It’s cute and fun, it’s protective, and it would be really easy to slide your phone, ID, and some cash into this thing on a weekend.  It’s also small and flexible so if you had it lying around your house and or bag it wouldn’t take up much space or be annoying to have a second case around.
It is the ‘Bambina’ case and is also available on Etsy, in a bunch of different colors/styles.  I like the green or gold in this shot.  You can’t tell from this picture but you slide your phone in the case from the top, and then the little kangaroo pouch on the outside is for your other stuff.  So cute.
organized-iphone-cases-bambina-etsy
And that pretty much wraps up my search.  Shockingly (NOT), I’m still not sure which one I’ll end up with.  I met B at our local Verizon store to get his phone and picked up a very basic black silicone case to have for now while I figure that out.  But there are some really good options out there and I’m pumped to try one.  And of course to play with my new iPhone too…when it finally gets here.  For now I’ll just stare longingly at B on the couch next to me enjoying his new phone.  (I know, we sound very, very sad and materialistic.  I promise we’re not – we’ve just been technologically deprived for the past 5 years with our very old outdated phones…)
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Wrangling Recipes.

recipe-organization-beforeT minus 1 to Turkey day!  In honor of kicking off the season of never ending cooking and baking and eating, I’m going to do a little post about how I keep my recipes in order.  It’ll come in handy if you get any new ones after tomorrow’s day of gluttony.

So what you see above is a quasi-before shot.  As is usually the case, I started randomly working on a project while I had 5 or 10 minutes to spare and then realized halfway through – hey, I should probably post this on the blog.  Clearly I’m organized in all aspects of life other than blogging.  For a few years now I’ve been storing recipes a la Magi – in plastic sheet protectors in cute binders.  The binder I use is a few years old from Office Max (shown below), and the sheet protectors are available anywhere.  I use these by Avery – also more visible in a pic a few lines below.

recipe-organization-binder-closed

Recently I’d just been shoving recipes into the binder and not putting them in pages.  And even those in pages were way out of order – like this really yummy breakfast/brunch recipe below that I found in a Rachel Ray mag back in the day, which was right next to a baby back ribs recipe by Alton Brown.  Side note I used to love Rachel Ray.  Now she’s like an Oprah-fied caricature of her old self, and I find her cringingly (is that a word?) hard to watch on TV.  Needless to say I don’t subscribe to the mag anymore.  But anyway, we ordered a stromboli on Monday night from a menu in the packet I keep next to my recipe binder and I couldn’t take it any more.  I had about 15 minutes until said stromboli showed up at our door so I went at it.

recipe-organization-plastic-pages

First thing I did was to lie everything out on the counter and take inventory.  Then I made piles of like-kind recipes (does this organizing formula sound familiar or what?): Starters (salads, soups, snacks), Sides, Meat/Poutlry, Fish/Seafood, Pasta, Desserts.  I had to move some recipes around in their plastic so they lined up better, but that was the bulk of the work of this whole task and took only about 5 minutes.  I have a few special recipes that I keep on handwritten index cards, those are kept in the front pocket of the binder as you can see in the shot below.

recipe-organization-binder

Mmm.  I’m hungry from looking at some of these.

Once I put all the plastic sheets back in I had a nicely organized binder looking like this:

recipe-organization-binder-after

The recipe on the left is the best find ever by SH @ Eventfully Simple at the shore a few summers ago.  It was in my Women’s Health mag and I totally passed it by.  She suggested we try it and it’s been a summer staple ever since.  B and I make it once a week in summer months, and have given the recipe to about a dozen other people.  And I’m happy to say it’s now properly filed with the rest of our meat and poultry items, and not sitting in between sugar cookies and Shipley bars.

And for those wondering, shortly after finishing this little ditty our pepperoni stromboli arrived and it was delish.  We ate the whole thing.  Good thing PR was last weekend!

Stalling My Falling.

martha_stewart_entryway_fall_winter

Yes, Christmas is in 41 days and holiday decorations may be up already in my office, but it’s still not too late to prep your house for fall (and winter).  I stalled on my fall organization big time this year, but last weekend I got myself in gear and rearranged a few things to get ready for colder weather gear invading my first floor.  If you’re so inclined to go about it yourself, here are some things to think about as temps drop, along with some pics courtesy of Maaaahhhtha to give you an idea of what I’m babbling on about.

Boots/Shoes – with colder weather comes wetter shoes, and multiple pairs.  Personally I have a separate pair of  rain boots, winter boots, and a super old pair of Uggs that are perfect for walking KP – yes this sounds like excess but I assure you each pair has a distinctly different purpose…and they were not all purchased at the same time…they were investments over the past 6 years.  I like to put out a boot tray and an extra mat next to our front door for dripping wet shoes.  We have hardwood floors throughout our house so it also helps to keep the snow salt off their surfaces by leaving shoes at the door in fall and winter.  I also like to put out a big wicker basket to corral shoes not currently in use, since we don’t have a closet.

martha_stewart_entryway_winter_shoes

Coats – chillier temps also mean more coats.  And if you live on the east coast, we’ve had the wackiest weather over the past few years that you can’t put your lightweight coats away just yet.  Last week I was literally in a wool oat with scarf and mittens.  This week I’m sweating in a lightweight trench.  Hmm.  That seems to be a familiar look for me.   Again, since our 1800’s rowhome is missing a closet (among other quirks), we use a series of hooks to keep track of all our coats.  A coat rack could also be useful, and of course a coat closet would be downright outstanding.  But coats should always be hung up to let them air/dry out.

Scarves – these wrap around our faces and can therefore get a little germy.  I recommend hanging all scarves on hooks or a coat rack to let them air out, and if you’ve got an especially runny shnoz, dry out too.

Mittens/Gloves – another item that can get a little icky this time of year.  These should also be kept somewhere to air out.  Since a hook for mittens is most likely not practical in anyone’s home, I recommend a shallow mesh basket where you can toss these in and keep them together.  Then you won’t suffer a mitten loss, or a putting-on-wet-gloves start to your morning.  Because we all know that just sucks.

martha_stewart_entryway_winter_accessories

Umbrellas – interesting tidbit here – these should always be stored standing upright.  I never knew why, but it turns out that storing them this way protects their ribs.  (Isn’t it kind of cute to think that umbrellas have ribs?  I don’t know why, it made me laugh).   So throwing umbrellas into a basket like yours truly is probably NOT good for the ribs.   Get an umbrella stand, or a tall basket to store them in upright.  But don’t put them in there soaking wet – let them stand somewhere to dry off first before wrapping them up and tucking away.

martha_stewart_entryway_umbrellas

 

And after all that talk about winter gear, it’s only fitting that I will actually be leaving it all behind this weekend as we head down to San Juan, Puerto Rico for JB’s wedding weekend extravaganza.  This will be us:

Juuuuuust kidding.  B may be a little gangsta at times (ladies from the DA’s office back me up here), but we won’t be rolling like this down in PR.  At least not on this trip.  (And another tip that this won’t be him – he doesn’t root for the Devils).  Instead we will be trading boots and mittens for bathing suits and shorts for a  tough 3 days of pool, beach, sleeping in, and celebrating.  Can’t wait.

Puerto Rico, Ohhh!

 

 

H-Burg 26.2

aerial_view_harrisburg_pa

Oh yeah.  Like that aerial shot of Harrisburg, PA?  Looks nice enough right?  Well I’ll be there this coming Sunday pounding the pavement for 26 miles, 385 yards.  I’ll tell you how nice it is after that.  As I mentioned on Sunday, due to the cancellation of the NYC marathon I signed myself up for Harrisburg this coming weekend.  So B, A and I are headed to the State Capitol on Saturday afternoon to check into a hotel, ingest some carbs, and partake in H-burg Marathon Madness.  And by madness,  I mean a pre-race early bedtime watching some boob tube.  I don’t do much the night before a race.  I’m hearing the race is about 1,500 people which should be a hoot.  The funny thing is with it being so small and local, I feel a lot more relaxed than I did before NYC last weekend.  Funny how that happens.

To prepare myself this week I ran a quality 10 miler on Sunday (slightly under race-pace), but was forced to take Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday off due to crazy busy days.  For some reason I’m just too popular at work these days.  People have gotten on the S-train bad these past 2 weeks.  Everyone thinks I need to be in their meetings.  I think it’s my dashing good looks and keyboard shortcut agility.  Thursday I squeezed in a light 3 miles at lunch and I think I’ll jog with KP on Saturday morning for a mile or two.  I like doing that to loosen up my legs and calm my nerves.

But that’s it.  Bet you didn’t think you’d still be stuck in this marathon monotony come the middle of November did ya.  Thanks for sticking it out!

Petals & Pinwheels.

DIY-girls-first-birthday-party-pink-orange-pinwheel-centerpieces

Really grainy and yellow shot for this post, but you get the idea where this is going.  And for the record, there was terrible light just before A’s party when I took these shots, and I’m not up to snuff yet on using Photoshop to fully fix things yet…

Anyway, these are some shots of the centerpieces I made for A’s first birthday.  Along with the colorful Gerber daisies my MIL found (they matched the color theme perfectly!). I wanted to share a tutorial in case it’s helpful to anyone else looking to make pinwheel centerpieces in mason jars.  You know, because there are so many of you out there and all.  Actually, there could be a decent amount of you based on some quick googling I just did.  So let’s do it.

The shot below shows the supplies I used.  I had a few on hand already  and picked up the rest for under $25 at A.C.Moore.  You are looking at (from L to R): Paper Pinwheels (made using my own method, which combined a few tutorials found on the Googles), paper filler, floral Styrofoam  two different widths of pink and orange grosgrain ribbon,  a Ball mason jar (I had both quart and pint sizes for decor, only the quarts are used in the shot above for the food table), craft dowels, and extra hot glue gun sticks.

DIY-pinwheel-centerpiece-supplies

The first thing I did was set up the mason jars as a base.  I played around with ribbon before cutting it to see how long of a piece I’d need.  To do that I just wrapped it around the top, tested a bow, etc.  Once I had the right size I cut 3 more so I had 4 in total.  Then I dabbed my hot glue gun onto the rim of the jar from the back all the way around the sides, leaving about and inch and a half to 2 inches open at the front so I could still tie the bow.  Before doing that I let them dry completely.  And if you think this sounds simple, it kinda does, but trust me when I say that I tied and re-tied those darn bows several times to get them just right.  Like so:

DIY-pinwheel-centerpiece-mason-jar

Next I shaved some of the outside of the Styrofoam so the circles were a little smaller and would fit inside the mouth of the jars.  Once I had a piece was nice and settled, I added the paper filler to the jar.  I had to use one of the dowels to poke it down and around the Styrofoam to hide it, which was also kind of tedious, but it made a big difference.  Seeing the Styrofoam is a little JV.  You can see a filled jar in the background of the shot below.

DIY-pinwheel-centerpiece-styrofoam-in-jar

Back to the hot glue gun.  Any project involving a hot glue gun is infinitely more fun.  Even B’s curiosity piques when he sees me bring that thing out.  I cannot wait until A is old enough for arts & crafts days at home.  Literally can’t wait.  I dream about what our arts & crafts projects will be, and about the craft room I’m going to design and build in the big suburban house B buys for me one day…

HA!  Pipe dreams.  Don’t get me wrong, I REALLY want a craft room, but we’re not moving to the ‘burbs any time soon.  We like the city.  And I’ll of course be chipping in on our abode.  I wouldn’t leave B stranded like that.  Teamwork!

But back to crafts…it was now time to assemble the pinwheels.  I hot glue gunned some of my larger paper pinwheels to craft dowels and trimmed the bottoms so they’d be a good height in the jars.  Once those dried my last and final step was the stick the pinwheels in each jar, being sure to get them nice and tight in the Styrofoam at the bottom.  I had to play around with them a little bit to get them just right, but anchoring them was a huge help.  Below is a final shot.  I wasn’t sure how big I wanted the pinwheels to be in the jars, so I had two test sizes for comparison purposes.

And I really have to point out that the pink pinwheels do not look NEARLY this large in person.  It totally dwarfs the jar in this shot, but if you scroll all the way back up you’ll see they worked perfectly.

So there you have it.  An easy and inexpensive way to DIY pink and orange pinwheel centerpieces, if you happen to be in the market for that kind of thing.  But actually you could do a lot with the jars other than this – I can totally see leaving the ribbon and doing other things like tea lights or flowers, etc.  Love all things functional.

DIY-pinwheel-centerpiece-finished