Sunday, May 31, 2009

"Settling In"

Moving is quite a process. How two people can accumulate about 80 boxes of stuff by their mid-twenties is beyond my understanding, and is a rather horrifying fact, but a fact it is - we have boxes and boxes of books, music, electronics, kitchen gadgets and utensils, clothing, and more. How did we fit all that stuff into our little apartment? And now that we're in our house, how is it that the stuff that fit in our apartment is practically spilling out of the house? I've unpacked almost all the kitchen stuff (with the help of my wonderful mother-in-law!), and more than half of our bedroom stuff, and most of our bathroom stuff, and a few other odds and ends here and there - and there are still boxes everywhere.

Let me put it this way: If someone broke into our house while we were out and ransacked the place, when we got back we probably wouldn't notice. For a few months.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Moving In

Buying a house in May gives new meaning to the concept of "Spring Cleaning."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Tired of Packing

56 hours until we sign closing papers and move in.

Yard Sale-ing 5/23

This morning I hopped out of bed bright and early to go yard sale hopping. After my yard sale success last Saturday, I figured driving around our town looking for yard sale signs couldn't hurt. I'm glad I gave it a try, because I found some good things!

I was looking specifically for storage solutions. In our current apartment we have quite a few built in bookshelves as well as other shelving, cabinetry, and storage. Now that we're getting ready to move into our first house, I'm aware we're going to need some storage options!

I found this wooden shoe rack and only paid $1.00 for it! The woman selling it was asking $2, but when I pointed out a slight wobble (easily fixable with a little glue, by the way) she put the price down to $1. Not bad! I'm thinking I'll either paint it or stain it.

This storage tier still had the original $15 price tag on it from Bed, Bath, & Beyond, but I got it for $2. I'm planning to use it for craft supply storage.

This sweet little baby-sized quilt was just twenty cents. I can't tell if it's handmade or not, but it seems like it probably is...? It seemed too cute to leave behind; some little fellow somewhere would like to use this, or perhaps a little girl could use it as a doll blanket. I'm sure I'll think of someone to give it to!

Look at this fabulous giraffe marionette! Asking price: $5. Price I paid: $3. It's wooden and looks to be pretty durable - a good quality toy. I bought it with my three nephews in mind, but as soon as my husband saw it he begged me to let him keep it for himself. It is kind of fun, I must admit. I guess my nephews will have to fight my husband for this find!

These five items cost $2.50 altogether. They are not particularly useful, but I thought the little blue glass inkwell would look cute in a windowsill or something, and I liked the plates, too. I'm thinking of using the square glass vase to transplant some of my rapidly-growing cactus plants into.

Here's a closeup of the blue inkwell. Cute!

And finally, more storage items - three big baskets for $2.50. I think I'll store my sewing supplies in these, as my fabric, thread, patterns, and notions are rapidly outgrowing their current home in just one basket.

All that for $11.20. The craft storage containers alone would have cost me more than that if I had done my shopping at retail stores! Yard sales are my new favorite thing about summer.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Children's Orchestra Concert

I have written before about the children's string orchestra I have the privilege of conducting, and they are just as much a blessing in my life today as they were when I wrote those two posts a year ago. I love these sweet children, and working with them, while it is certainly challenging, is also very rewarding.

Our musical year has come to a close. At our spring concert, my group played a Merle Isaac arrangement of "The William Tell Overture," and a really beautiful little piece called "Prelude and Fugue" by Gerald Sebesky. The ensemble played so well considering their very young ages (my group ranges from kids as young as seven up through third and fourth graders) - the work we've done on intonation, dynamics, ritardandos, and important harmonies all came through in the performances.

On the Monday following the final concerts, we always have an "Awards Night" ceremony and celebration. This year I gave each student in my group a certificate highlighting a particular strength, and chose one recipient from each section (1st violins, 2nd violins, violas, and cellos) for the "Outstanding Musical Achievement" award. Seven-year-old Jeffrey in the first violins learned his music backwards and forwards and brought enthusiasm and joy to each rehearsal. Nathaniel in the second violins surprised me in every way when he went from being the weakest member of the group to the 2nd violin I depended upon the most for his careful practice and reliability. He even took weekly lessons with me to work on his orchestra music in addition to his usual lessons with his violin teacher at school! Julia, a very young and sweet violist, held down her small section of two with strong playing, her big eyes constantly upturned to watch for my cues. And Olivia, a lanky blond cellist with a braces-clad grin, may have been the single student in my group who improved the most this year, becoming a solidly dependable principal cellist, standing firm in a section with one silly seven-year-old cellist with a constant case of the giggles, one frequently misbehaving cellist with a misplaced need for attention, and one cellist who played about a half-step sharp all the time.

I could go on and on about all the kids. Each one of them has a special place in my heart.

I had recently mentioned to Trudy, the founder and director of the youth orchestra organization as a whole, that it's sometimes a little depressing to conduct the one group that everyone wants to get out of. My group is the most beginning group, and the goal is to prepare students to graduate into the next group, and from there, into the next one after that, and finally, into the advanced orchestra. So if I do my job well and the students do theirs and work hard, after a year or two in my group, all these little ones leave me and move into a more advanced group. And I miss them, and sometimes feel a little sad that the dream of each young string player is to move up after a year in my group. But I got some affirming words at Awards Night when executive director, music director, and parents all thanked me for my hard work, my patience, and my musicianship... and the conductor of an advanced ensemble told me my group sounded the best it had ever sounded (this has only been my third semester as conductor of the ensemble), and that I was "setting the bar higher" for the more advanced ensembles by doing such a good job! I felt a lot better. I'm sure the wishful thinking will still creep in from time to time - "If only the kids loved my group so much they wanted to stay!" But I think that enjoyment of my group and the desire to move forward can co-exist together for the students. And their progress is a good thing, and something for me to be thankful for and proud of.

I was presented with some lovely, thoughtful gifts.

From the organization as a whole, a beautiful begonia:

From the parents of my ensemble kids, a mountain sage for our new yard:

And a gift card, with our upcoming move in mind!

As a freelance musician and music teacher, I have a lot of jobs.

I tend to think that most of them are the best jobs in the world.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Packing Joshua Harris

Nathan and I are packing, packing, packing these days. (Have I mentioned that we bought a house and we're moving?!)

This afternoon he's been sorting through bins of books from our spare room and packing them into boxes for the move. I began to notice that he was becoming easily side-tracked by the lure of reading these books rather than packing them, so I asked innocuously, "Hey, what can I do to help you get those books packed?"

His reply: "Perhaps a brief side-hug would be appropriate at this time."

And that's when I realized he was flipping through that 90's Christian hit, "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" by Joshua Harris.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Free P. F. Chang's!

If you have a P.F. Chang's restaurant near you, check out this great deal:

P.F. Chang's is offering a FREE order of their signature lettuce wraps with the purchase of an entrée. Just go here and enter your email address. The coupon will be emailed to you.

I am definitely going to take advantage of this offer, since I still have the better half of a P.F. Chang's gift card burning a hole in my wallet. I foresee a dinner out with Nathan... he'll order an entrée and I'll enjoy the lettuce wraps for mine. (I hope the coupon will work for the vegetarian version!) The coupon is good for dine-in only, and expires June 14. Enjoy!

(Thanks for the heads-up, Hip2Save!)

Yard Sale Treasures

On Saturday morning Nathan and I went to a neighborhood community yard sale, in which a few dozen homes all hosted simultaneous sales. It's a rather wealthy community, so we correctly suspected that we might find some deals worth having on things we'd need when we move into our house IN EIGHT DAYS!

(Did I mention that WE'RE MOVING a week from tomorrow?)

Please forgive the terrible photos. Every surface in our house is covered in moving boxes or piles of things waiting to be packed into boxes (Oh, by the way, WE BOUGHT A HOUSE and WE'RE MOVING REALLY SOON!) and there's no available space for picture-taking. But such as they are, here are the items we found:

Starbucks Barista Zia espresso machine. Retail value: $275. Yard sale price: $5.

Wooden quilt rack. With a fresh coat of paint, this is going to have a place in our bedroom to drape clothes over when we're too lazy to hang them up display the handmade quilt I'm going to make some day.

Wooden shelf. This will also be getting a new paint treatment, and maybe some new hooks as well. The quilt rack and the shelf were $8 combined. The lady was trying to get $15, but I stood there looking uncertain until she lowered the price a couple of times. Heehee.

Two glass jars. $1 apiece, picked up in two different yards. These will find homes in the bathroom and/or the kitchen.

Three old glass milk bottles. $0. I plan to use them as vases!

Four new IKEA chairs ("Jokkmokk"). Not even assembled yet when I walked away with the set for $10.

Wood pedestal for potted plant. $5. In retrospect I wish I had put in a lower offer for this, but then again, we got this in the same yard as the espresso machine, so maybe the two deals even out somehow. I'll probably refinish this at some point.

The Joy of Cooking. Now that I have this, I think I have all the "staple" cookbooks that everyone should really have. The price tag says $4, but I offered $2 and got it.

Three interior design books, including Pottery Barn Home. The Pottery Barn book alone is usually around $15 I think; I got all three books for $5.

Total spent: $38. Not bad considering the useful things we got, but I think in the future I'll be braver about haggling for lower prices. This was only my first time garage-saleing, after all... I'll improve with practice, I'm sure!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Like, Whoah

Looking for a weird auditory experience? Do what I accidentally did this morning:

1) Open about ten different tabs in your browser, all of cool YouTube videos.

2) Somehow crash your computer and cause it to restart.

3) Re-open your browser.

4) When it asks if you want to restore the last browsing session, choose "yes."

All those YouTube tabs will re-open and begin playing simultaneously.

I actually found the combination of musical and spoken chaos rather pleasing, in an odd sort of way.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"Pass It On" Giveaway

About a month ago my sister Emily hosted a "Pass It On" giveaway on her blog. Since she recently alerted me that I was one of the first to comment and yes, siblings are allowed to 'win,' I'm now alerting you to my participation. Here's how it works:

Since I was one of the first three to reply to Emily's post, she's going to give me something - probably something cool and handmade, if I know my sister. The catch is that I in turn get to offer to give things away to my readers who comment. I can choose how many things to give away and what kinds of things to give away. If you leave a comment saying you want to participate, you're agreeing to receive what I want to give you and to "Pass It On" yourself by hosting a similar giveaway!

I've decided to open this giveaway to five people. So, if you're one of the first five people to leave a comment saying you'd like to participate, you'll be receiving something - and it really could be anything - from me. I might make something for you, I might bake you cookies if you live nearby, or I might give you something cool I don't need anymore... you'll have to wait and see! (And if you've ever seen a craft or sewing project featured here on my blog that you were particularly fond of, feel free to drop a hint...)

I'll be sure to update my blog with winning participants and the things I decided to give them, so stay tuned!

Now, go ahead and leave a comment if you want to participate.

More Baby Shoes

Back in February I made adorable baby shoes for my newest nephew Josiah using the Stardust Shoes pattern. Sadly, as it turned out he had uncommonly large feet for his age and they didn't fit him, so the shoes are back in my possession and waiting for a friend or family member to have a little boy babe. However, not to be discouraged by that fact, I have since made two more pairs of little shoes for little feet.

A pink pair for a fellow violin teacher's baby girl:

And a soft blue pair for our church choir director's new boy:

These shoes are pretty easy to make, so if you enjoy sewing and are looking for a unique baby gift idea, I encourage you to try making some!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cheap Clothing Alert

Hey ladies of the blogosphere, check out It's Hip To Save (one of my favorite frugal blogs) for the 411 on some great clothing deals happening today! Tulle has pages of sale items starting at just $3.99 - items that usually retail for up to $100+ each! Currently there are still plenty of items left in several sizes.

I splurged and bought a couple of skirts (including the one pictured above, but in a different color), and at those prices I don't have to feel guilty about it. (Anyway, Nathan bought several new dress shirts and ties and a new pair of pants at the Nordstrom that just opened here a couple of weeks ago, so my tiny spending spree doesn't even begin to compare to the cost of men's dress clothes... good thing he's totally worth it.)

Enjoy browsing, and let me know if you find any good buys.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Jesus Christ, Superman?

Yesterday morning in church we sang an anthem called "Christ the Lord is Ris'n Again" by John somebodyorother (note the first name). The opening melody (in 3/4) goes like this: do- do | sol- sol | la sol fa | sol-- | (dashes represent additional beats; i.e. the first note was a half note followed by a single quarter note, etc.)

Then, after church, I played a pops concert featuring the infamous "Superman" music by John Williams. Different rhythm; same melody!

(The main melody I'm talking about starts at 1:05 in this video.)

Of course, while that melody pertains to Superman rather than Luke Skywalker et al, I can no longer hear that particular theme without hearing in my head the words, "Nobody cares if you upset a droid! Droids don't tear your arms out of sockets!" made infamous by this incredibly clever video:

Now, get this - today, May 4, is commonly known as "Star Wars Day," because of the play on words "May the 4th be with you."

May 3rd or May 4th, a church anthem or Superman or Star Wars, I'm getting the feeling that the spirit of John Williams is hovering around me lately! What is it you're asking of me, Mr. Williams? You'd like me to go to Dagobah? Only say the word, sir! With my violin in hand, I will take your great movie music to the farthest corners of the galaxy!

Orange Kitchen

I've been contemplating what color I want to paint the kitchen in our new house (our closing date, if all goes well, is May 25!), and I think I've decided on a sort of tangerine-ish shade. To see if I was crazy for wanting this, I searched the words "Orange Kitchen Paint" on Flickr and came up with some cute and inspiring photos that confirmed my love of this color for kitchens:

(from here)

Also, check out this picture and this picture.

Doesn't it make you happy just to look at these kitchens?

I don't want to paint all four kitchen walls tangerine; I'm thinking it would be beautiful to do two white walls and two accent walls. One of these walls would be the wall with the cabinets and counter, so the color would just peek through between counter and cabinets and wouldn't be too overwhelming. The other would be the adjacent wall behind the stove and refrigerator. Picture these walls orange...

The only problem is, Nathan, while he won't say it in so many words, seems to be partial to painting the entire interior some shade of taupe. No orange, he says (although he is open to being convinced, I think). No yellow, either, and definitely no green. Some shades of blue might or might not be acceptable, but would certainly not be preferable when compared with a color like taupe.

What do you think? Would orange make my kitchen cheerful, or would it be an overbearing color?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Three Country Hits I'm Loving Today

1) Brad Paisley, "Then"

(That magical interval of a seventh when he sings, "But I've said that before" just catches me every time I hear it. Love it.)

2) Darius Rucker, "It Won't Be Like This For Long"

(I have a feeling my sister Emily, mom to three little ones, will enjoy this song.)

3) Taylor Swift, "Love Story"

(The music video is a little ridiculous, now that I see it, but the song is fun to hear on the radio...)