May 27, 2010

And we're off ...

Alaska, I hope you're ready for us.

P.S. Traveling with a sunburn is not going to be fun.

May 26, 2010

Journey to the Last Frontier

This is the type of beauty I can expect to experience this weekend. We are leaving the Lower 48 for Cooper Landing, Alaska, the site of my future sister-in-law's wedding. The fiance and I arrive in Anchorage on Friday morning and drive to Cooper Landing on Friday afternoon.

As much as I adore the outdoors, I've never had much of a desire to visit Alaska. I've always associated it with bitter cold and snow, two of my least favorite things. I've been keeping an eye on the weather, and needless to say, the forecast calls for showers and temps in the mid- to upper-50s. Pretty much the opposite of Phoenix.

But the opportunity to take in such picturesque surroundings in person is once-in-a-lifetime. And we'll get to celebrate with friends and family, some who we haven't seen in a while. I'll just have to get my jacket, sweatshirts and leggings out of storage.

We plan to raft the Kenai River, which I'm so stoked for, after the festivities conclude Sunday. Not wanting to waste our Alaska Airlines companion ticket, which expires in July, we decided to extend our vacation [stick it to the airlines] and travel to Washington DC. I love history and what better place to learn of the past than our nation's capitol? On the agenda: the Holocaust Museum, the International Spy Museum, the monuments and, of course, the Washington Design Center.

Sadly, I will miss out on patronizing the Flea Market At Eastern Market.

I'll try to keep the blog updated as best I can. But I think you can forgive me after seeing the type of amazing nature I'll be distracted by. Not to mention the company of some of the best people I know and the sights and sounds of places I've only read about it books.

Then there's the sheer exhaustion that comes from 10,000 miles of air travel in a week.

May 25, 2010

You're my wonderwall ...

The gallery wall I mentioned in my Five for Friday post a few weeks ago is finally hung in the living room. We have a total of 13 black and white images right now, but will add more over time. If I had my way, the rest of the 100 treasured photographic memories I chose would be up there for all to see yesterday. I love the idea of black and white photos. There's something about a lack of color in pictures that reminds of me of a vintage, classic time. The teal wall where the images rest on also makes the b+w pictures stand out.

I think it turned out well for not having a store-bought pattern. The cohesion of the b+w  images and haphazard placement of the frames makes for the perfect blend of organized madness.

What do you think?

May 24, 2010

Progress and some life lessons and hideous hues along the way

This weekend was pretty productive. The fiance's nightstand makeover is coming along nicely. I had to sand off all of the dark stain he put on it after acquiring it from an old neighbor. In the process of stripping it down to the original wood, I found a surprise. And it wasn't the kind you eagerly anticipate on your birthday or Christmas.

The neighbor had stained it a hideous salmon color. Ugh. I asked Bruce why anyone would choose that shiny shade of nastiness for a great vintage piece? To which he replied, "Well, it was the 1950s." And my response: "There's no excuse for ugly." With the salmon disaster behind me, I'm excited to paint the nightstand white to show off its fabulous shape, which the dark stain was hiding.

Even though I have a clear vision for a piece of furniture when I begin, I seem to underestimate how involved the projects turn out to be. Maybe it's because I've only done three including the nightstand? Maybe it's the perfectionist in me? Each piece seems easier than the last when I begin the revamping process, but turns out to be more time consuming. Despite that, these projects are giving us "new" furniture that isn't mismatched and helping me become more handy and patient. I really had no expectations other than pretty furniture when I began these makeovers. But my confidence in properly navigating around a garage is growing. If you need something wood puttied, sanded, primed or painted, I'm your girl. And I definitely couldn't say that three months ago.

May 21, 2010

Five for Friday

It's that time again, friends.

My five goals/wishes/hopes/projects for Friday through Sunday.

1. Rest my body following five consecutive days of working out

2. Paint Bruce's nightstand

3. Hang the rest of the black + white photo gallery on the living room wall

4. Enjoy the sights and sounds of our second Diamondbacks' game at Chase Field

5. Start the packing process for the Alaska/Washington DC trip

What are your Five for Friday? May your weekend endeavors, whatever they are, be rad.

 [my photo of the sunset over Ellensburg, Wash. 06.09]

May 20, 2010

Cool like the ocean / Burned like a summer home / Fooled by the notion / That the sums don't add up at all ...

Hopefully, I will hear those lyrics on the night of Saturday, July 17. The music gods have smiled on me and brought the Silversun Pickups, one of my favorite bands, to Tempe. I pray they play that line of perfectly-crafted lo-fi goodness, which is from what I consider their best song, "Three Seed."

As a way to combat my insomnia Tuesday night, I perused Facebook on my phone. Imagine my delight when I saw "Pre-Sale for the Portland, OR and Tempe, AZ shows start tomorrow at 10 a.m." as a status update for the band's page illuminating the screen. I woke up at 9:20 a.m. barely able to contain my excitement at the thought of seeing them for the first time in concert.

Their quick return to the AZ is a bit unexpected considering they opened for Muse at the US Airways Center at the beginning of April. I looked into tickets, but they were about the cost of our power bill for the month. Their upcoming show at the Marquee Theatre, which I've never been to, is way more in my $$$ range. Against Me! and the Henry Clay People are slated to open.

I've followed the Los Angeles group from their early stages as indie rock darlings to full-fledged headliners. Their spin on shoegaze could be classified as mellow, dreamy, fuzzed-out alternative rock.

And I thought my live show luck had run out as evidenced by Modest Mouse's geographical taunting of me with their shows in New Mexico and Colorado that I'm unable to attend.

Top tracks: "Three Seed," "Ne Plus Ultra," "The Royal We," "Growing Old Is Getting Old"

May 19, 2010

May flowers ...

Bring a sneak peek into the progress of the townhouse decorating venture. 

I chose these lovely flowers at the grocery store for the mason jars I got last Saturday. Please pardon the paper towel holder. Glamorous, I know.
Pink, yellow and white are really inspiring me right now, so I divided up two bundles for the four jars, and you have "custom" arrangements for only $9.

As I was trying to find places for the blooms around the house, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to update you on the progress of the townhouse design. I couldn't very well let the sight of these pretties go to waste.

Please remember this is totally a work in progress. I'm not sure any space is ever truly finished. But ours still has a long way to go. But for now .... glimpses of the living room and master bedroom.

Living room

Master bedroom

Any thoughts and suggestions would be much appreciated!

May 18, 2010

I love lamp

Lighting ... One of the most overlooked elements in interior design. I never really thought much about lamps and their ability to totally transform a room until I started reading interior design blogs. Well, those days are over, and I'm on the pretty lamp bandwagon. HomeGoods, the center of all that is easy on the bank account and stylish, has made it easier for beautiful lighting to exist in the townhouse.

They ALWAYS have a modern and stylish selection. These are the types of lamps I see on high-end retailer's Web sites for hundreds of dollars at a fraction of the cost.

I purchased these two for $51 and put them in the living room on top of the made over bookcase.

Any of these dynamic duos would have a place in my casa. 

But I only chose this pair.

You probably guessed from my hints in the previous post. I'm not that great at keeping secrets.

Even though we have been using the hallway and bathroom lights to illuminate our bedroom [there aren't overhead lights in either of the townhouse bedrooms],  I made my way to the lighting section with the intention of only window shopping.

The rose lamps caught my eye immediately. I almost put them in the cart without even looking at the price [$69.99 a piece]. But then I saw the ones with the circle shades and glass base, and  found myself with a difficult decision. 

The rose lamps were pretty. But then I thought they maybe looked too feminine and I had to take my fiance, who I share the room with and who is not feminine, into consideration. My shopping companion and good friend, Correne, also pointed out the potentially time-consuming task of cleaning the intricate divots of the roses. Who wants to vacuum a lamp? Not this girl.

And then I went back to the circle-shaded beauties. I love the look of clear glass. And not to mention my growing obsession with circles. They looked gender-neutral. Another plus. And with a price take of $49.99 each, I literally was sold on them.

What do you think? Did I make the right choice?

Do you feel lighting can make a room or are you apathetic to it as I used to be?

May 17, 2010

All in the name

HomeGoods definitely delivered the goods and Hobby Lobby should think about calling itself "Lobby of Amazingly Cool Ish." These two stores produced some fabulous finds this past weekend.

We went to Hobby Lobby on Saturday on the recommendation of my cousin who basically lived at the store when she resided in Kansas. And now I can see why. They have everything from fabric to ribbon to model rocket kits [Bruce was smitten] to furniture. Think a combo of Jo-Ann's, Michaels and HomeGoods on craft store steroids.

The objective at the Hob Lob was to get a knob for the revamped coffee table.  Mission accomplished.

 I also snagged a few other project goodies:

My search for a reasonably-priced framed bulletin board came to an end Saturday. This beauty was originally $39.99, but marked down to $13.60 because of two small holes in the cork. Hello! I'm going to cover it up with pictures, words and other assorted inspirational items anyway. So I had to snatch it up. I'm thinking of painting the frame and covering the cork board with fabric or pretty paper. Stay tuned.

You can never have too many mason jars in my opinion. They are good for vases, votive holders, trinket catchers or just on their own.

I have an idea for a project in the master bedroom that includes stencils on a huge canvas for over the bed. And there's nothing better than Helvetica.

The final and most-needed purchase was this sectional frame for a print of my favorite painting I bought at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art almost two years ago. The print is an odd size at 24x24, and we had no luck finding a regular frame in stores. I was resigned to the fact it may need to be custom framed, which is a pretty penny. I had my Modest Mouse concert poster done at Michaels, and while they did a great job, it set me back almost $200. With a coupon.

Enter Hob Lob's sectional frames. They sell length and width sizes seperately, so I got four 24-inch pieces for about $12 total. Granted it doesn't come with glass, but I can always have Home Depot cut some later.

And now Richard Diebenkorn's Berkeley #57 has a proper place on the wall. A lot of my color inspiration for the living room came from this amazing piece of art.

And let's not forget the object of my obsession: HomeGoods. Each time I go there, I have to restrain myself from buying the entire store. Most of their stuff is super cute and the prices can't be beat. I like to think of it as the step-sister or long-lost cousin of Pottery Barn, West Elm and Crate & Barrel.

Here's a sneak peak at my latest HG acquisition:

May 14, 2010

Five for Friday

I treasure weekends. You see I rarely had the luxury of any weekend day off while working in newspapers, which sucked. I'd usually start my work week on Thursday or Friday as Bruce's was ending, so we never could take a spontaneous day trip or enjoy watching college football together. Everything had to be planned months in advance, and life doesn't always work that way. Well, it can as evidenced in my constrained situation, but how boring. And if something came up at the last minute, forget it.

The plethora of Facebook status updates revealing people's plans for Friday-Sunday used to make me envious. I was happy for my friends, but wished I could have time off with my significant other like the majority of the rest of the working world.

Granted things are much busier, which is a pain. But at least I can do the crowded, pain-in-the-ace stuff with Bruce without figuring it out 85 years in advance. The freedom of jumping in the car and heading to Sedona, taking the entire day to finish up a home-improvement project or simply relaxing with a cold beverage and good conversation is absolutely worth celebrating.

And that's where my "Five For Friday" series comes in. Each Friday, I'll pick five activities, goals, emotions, suggestions, etc. for the weekend. I may or may not get to all of them, but at least I have the opportunity and choice to now.

My Five for Friday:

1. Hang our black + white photo gallery on the living room wall

2. Get a knob for the coffee table and other assorted items for projects around the townhouse

3. Laugh

4. Swim in our complex pool to combat the 90-degree temps

5. Acquire some beautiful blooms for the living room

May 13, 2010

Labor of love

Without further ado, I present the revamped coffee table. 

This project was the hardest yet. I have a feeling the dining set makeover planned for the coming months will trump this. But until then ...

She turned out better than I anticipated considering the many battle wounds acquired during the past seven years, which included splitting in half from a night of table dancing on St. Patrick's Day in Bruce's apartment, numerous stains from spilled beverages and food and pen scribbles.

The first and most difficult step in her makeover consisted of alternating layers of wood filler to cover up the cracks and screws from where Bruce put her back together and sanding to smooth out the surface. 

Next came two coats of primer. I used Kilz, which was really good, but super smelly.

Finally came the paint. I went with Behr Premium Plus Ultra semi-gloss in "Ultra Pure White." We used the same paint in the transformation of the fiance's garage sale bookcase he used in college.

The plan was to top the table with some kind of wallpaper, wrapping paper, fabric or stenciling, but that's on hold for now. I still need to get a knob for the drawer, which likely will happen this weekend. I've heard Hobby Lobby is the place to get cheap, cute knobs. Maybe this one?


Closer looks at the crack.

My lame attempt at styling. This will definitely change. I'd like to get a tray and fill it with fun things. 


That candy pink chevron pillow NEEDS to live on my couch. The pops of red and blue contrast so well with the white.

Is it Christmas, yet?


These are a few lovely items I've had my eye on for so long they now warrant a post. The "Live What You Love" picture was a special edition print from the talented artist Hijirik. You can find the newest edition with a red heart here. 

 It's no secret I have a soft spot for all things chevron/zigzag. So when I came across this beauty for that price, it shot to the top of "my next-big-purchase-list" for the townhouse. Soon, you will adorn our living room floor.

File this circle credenza under "probably never going to live in our home." For a price tag of around a few thousand dollars, it's not remotely in my grasp right now. A girl can keep dreaming, right? The circled-doors make such a statement, though. They give just the right amount of punch to the otherwise simple piece.

This on-trend garden stool was in my grasp and, sadly, I let her get away. Hopefully, she'll be at the HomeGoods where I found her next time I visit the smart-priced decor mecca. 

I <3 everything about this painting from Jamie Shelman. The colors are amazing and it is the perfect size for the massive focal wall in our living room.

May 12, 2010

A day for our family member of the feline variety

As most of you know, Wazzu is a special part of our family and has brought an incredible amount of joy to our lives. She's made it a little easier being away from our family and friends in Washington and California. But our furry family member didn't come to us in the most ideal of situations.

Flash back to 2005. I had just taken a full-time job at the Tri-City Herald and moved into my first apartment without roommates, so naturally I wanted a little company. Enter Pepper. I found the black, short-haired kitten at the Humane Society in Kennewick. She was so tiny and cute in the cage by herself. She seemed nice when I held her. Sold. I had found, what I thought, was a nice kitty. A perfect addition to our new family [Bruce, who was living and working in Kent during this time, and I had only been dating a few months at this point].

Little did I know she was ferrel. Funny how places neglect to include pertinent information like that. I later found out the Humane Society workers discovered Pepper and her brothers and sisters outside in a box by the building. Not one to give up, I figured she would calm down after getting spayed. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. She would attack for no reason even though she was given plenty of love, food and a peaceful environment. One night, I picked her up to take her to bed and she clawed my left arm slasher-movie style. It wasn't fun. At this point, I was resigned to the fact that no matter how well we treated her, she was who she was.

November 2006 rolls around, and we're making the move to California for my new job at the Fresno Bee. The car was packed. Bruce in the driver's seat. Me co-piloting. Pepper in the backseat in her carrier. We stopped in Eugene, Ore. for lunch with a friend, and I figured Pepper would be OK out of her carrier for the rest of the ride. And she was until we arrived in Fresno later that night at 2 in the a.m. We pull into the parking lot of a hotel right off Highway 99 and Bruce gets out to see if there's any vacancy. No luck. So we drive to another place down the street. Bruce gets out of the car again then it's all kind of a blur. From what I remember, Pepper shoots out of the car, freaks out and hits the glass front door of the hotel. That was the last time we saw her.

We searched for a few hours, completely exhausted from the 14-hour trip we had just made from Washington. We left food and toys outside, hoping she'd find her way back, which she never did. We went door-to-door in the neighborhood, but nobody had seen her. A few days passed and we moved to a more centrally-located hotel, but would still go back to the original one to look for our lost kitty. Then something crazy happened. The hotel manager asked us to quit trespassing on the grounds AKA looking for Pepper. He said we were making the guests nervous. Rage, sadness, hopelessness took over. We were stunned. This man who was standing at the glass front door Pepper banged into and witnessed our grief was asking us to leave? Some people I'll never understand. 

Soon the time split between searching for Pepper and a new place shifted to settling in at the new job and apartment. I focused on my new life, but still drove by the neighborhood where Pepper had vanished since it was on my way home from work. 

A few days passed. We stopped looking. It broke my heart despite all the trouble we went through with her. I pictured her cold, scared and worse. But then I thought, "you know what? Pepper is a tough girl. If any kitty can handle the streets, she can." She was spayed and still ferrel. I'm not trying to justify losing a cat, but in these circumstances, she was equipped to survive. I still believe she's running a gang along 99.

We figured it was time for us to adopt again, especially before Bruce returned to Washington. We headed over to the Central California chapter of the SPCA. I was determined not to make the same mistake I had with Pepper, so Bruce and I spent a good chunk of time getting a feel for the kittens. There was a black one who resembled Pepper screaming his head off in the cage. Years later, Bruce tells me, for some reason, he thought I'd want that one. Silly boy. 

Then it happened. I saw this tiny girl holding a gray ball of fur, and I knew that was our kitten. I held my breath, hoping, praying the rug rat would put our potential newest addition down. And she did. I immediately scooped her up and called Bruce over. And then uncertainty took over. Was she cute enough? What if she was ferrel? She looked fine, but I'd been deceived by appearances before. Bruce assured me she was the one [which he still kids me about to this day]. I didn't know. So we put her on hold. Yes, layaway for kittens. Twenty-four hours to think about it. 

We returned the next day and made it official. Gray fur ball was ours. But she had to be spayed and treated for ear mites before she could come home with us. A week later, I [Bruce had gone back to Washington] picked her up from the SPCA. The girl handed her to me and mumbled something about if she experiences cold symptoms to bring her back. I, for some reason, didn't put two-and-two together. I was stoked gray fur ball finally was ours. During the course of the next few days, gray fur ball, who we affectionately named Wazzu after our alma mater, began exhibiting cold-like symptoms. She wasn't eating because of the congestion. Her eyes were runny. She was sneezy. I called the SPCA on a Friday and they proceeded to tell me a case of Kennel Cough was going around their facility. Now it made sense. Why couldn't the vet tech have just told me about the Kennel Cough? Why did I let my excitement overshadow my duty to ask the important questions?

I asked if I could bring her in to get checked out like the vet tech had said, and the woman proceeded to tell me they were closing for the weekend and that I should take her to a vet. After calling around, no vets were able to take new appointments since it was Friday and they weren't open on weekends. One recommended I take Wazzu to an emergency vet place. 

Why did this keep happening? Lost cat. Alone in a new city. Stress of a new job. Boyfriend 800 miles away. Sick kitten. It was overwhelming to say the least.

Wazzu and I arrived at the emergency vet hospital, and the wait began. Appointments were on a first-come, first-served basis, but if there were more urgent emergency situations, your turn was pushed back. There were some nice ladies in the waiting room who had family in Washington, so I was comforted talking with them. 

Then the unthinkable happened. A family rushed through the doors with what looked like a badly-injured dog. They were top priority. A few more hours passed, and it was finally our turn. We entered the room and I explained Wazzu's symptoms to the tech. Then the doctor arrived. He was a nice man with kind eyes and a Hawaiian shirt under his lab coat. I explained the situation to him and the tears started to fall. I lost it. The past few weeks had been pretty trying. Next thing I knew, he was crying, too. He had just finished putting the dog brought in by the family down. The father had backed over the family pet. It put things in perspective a bit. My kitten was still here. She could be saved. The doctor said it was a good thing I brought her in when I did because she had a respiratory infection from the Kennel Cough and was close to pneumonia. He gave me medicine and said she should feel better in a few days, which she did.

And she has grown into such an amazing cat. I know that sounds cheesy, but everything we wanted from Pepper -- affection, love, personality, obedience, companionship -- Wazzu has given us.

So every few Wednesdays, I'll post pictures of her for a series titled, "Wazzu Wednesdays." I hope you'll enjoy the images as they are constant, tangible reminders of how incredibly blessed we are that she was brought into our lives. The path we took to her was anything but easy, but it was meant to be.

Bells worth ringin'

When I heard Sleigh Bells a few months ago, I was blown away. These electro-rockers who love filthy drums and beat machines as much as pop hooks come at you full force. I obtained their EP, which included six songs, and played the ish out of it. It seemed like an eternity for their full-length album, "Treats," to drop. Hey, a person can only listen to six tracks for so long. But yesterday was worth the wait. The production is much better while retaining the grit of the EP. Some may lump this duo in with the beach rock and DIY lo-fi groups out right now, but I hope their diversified sound keeps them around so I can enjoy more of their grimy tunes. Now, if Best Coast could get her act together and release her full-length ...

Top tracks: "Rill Rill," "Crown On The Ground," "Tell 'Em," "A/B Machines"


May 11, 2010

Oh, HTML ... Why do you hate me?

Those were my thoughts most of yesterday and a good portion of today as I fumbled through giving the blog a makeover. Nothing against the standard template, but I'm more of a bells and whistles kind of girl.

I'm pleased with what I've accomplished, considering my HTML skills are way rusty [Myspace you were good for something other than stalking back in the day].

I'll probably change her look quite often just to practice and try different outfits as I, hopefully, improve on my Web design knowledge. Making the blog pretty also gives me the creative outlet I used to have in newspaper page design. :(

But for now, I'm sticking with what I have.
Here are the headers I created/modified before settling on the one at the top of the page. It's clear I have a sick obsession with the chevron/zigzag pattern. It's so stylish, though.

I was a little nervous revealing the blog before I got the design how I wanted, but I figure you'll understand I'm not super HTML chick ... YET!

Hello, old friend. Remember me?

Well, it's good to be back. And by back I mean putting the pen to the paper [the keyboard to the screen] again. I stepped away from writing as I pursued and fell in love with the visual and editing sides of journalism. But as kindred spirits often do, I've reunited with my old friend, this time via a blog. I've wanted to start one for some time as I've been captivated by a slew of online interior decorating sites. Further motivating this new adventure is Facebook's ever-changing landscape. As much as it keeps me updated on people, the new profile format and looser grip on security are cause for concern. I'll still post on Facebook, but "Turn Up The Rad" will give me another outlet that, hopefully, will allow me to rediscover my passion for writing, sharpen my HTML skills and keep those non-Facebookers informed on what's happening in my life.

So what can you expect to find in my little corner of the blogosphere? A whole lot of rad ish. Topics will include, but are not limited to: music, the interior design of the townhouse, sports, current events, homesickness, pictures, my travels, discovering Phoenix, more pictures ... probably of my cat, and whatever else I think you should know about.

Contemplating the football team's Rose Bowl appearance next season at the top of Camelback Mountain. GO COUGS!
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