Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Yarn Ball Magic. Hold onto your seats.

This is a two part post about yarn. Yawn city, I know.

Part I:
A few months ago my friend Jackie and I took a knitting class. The week before we tried a hippy-mom-yoga class. We were in a "let's try this..." mode. We took the class at JoAnn Fabrics, and we were the two youngest class members by at least 30 years. Shocking.

I learned a few things that night:
1) Knitting is hard
2) You don't want your needle to slip out of your hands or else all hell breaks loose
3) I'm not a knitter

Jackie on the other hand may be whipping up a complete afghan for her baby right now as I type... she totally got the hang of it! I came home and put my new yellow yarn in the "yarn box". This box has been around since college when I went through a "crochet stage" with my friend Ann. That stage lasted a little longer and I was good enough that Christmas that year was fondly referred to as "Megs gives everyone a scarf" Xmas. Sad to say, my skills got rusty and all of the yarn has been sitting in a box for years.

Part II:
I was recently in my favorite Baltimore shop (Trohv, formerly known as Red Tree) and saw these cute yarn balls. I immediately thought that they would be perfect for the "nook" in our living room. (The nook is the bane of my existence. It's a nice architectural touch in theory, but I have not figured one decent thing to put in there since we moved in almost two years ago.)

After admiring Trohv's $14.50/piece yarn balls for about 5 minutes it finally came to me - I could make something similar on the cheap. (The Oprah a-HA moment was a little bit delayed, but I blame that on the Leimabean sucking brain cells on a daily basis.)

Spotting the Trohv yarn balls was going to solve two problems for me:
1.  I would use up the dusty yarn box supply that had been taunting me from the craft room
2. I would finally have something to put in the d*mn living room nook.

Here's what I did:
Step 1: Load up on Styrofoam balls in different sizes. You could make the yarn balls from scratch, but I figured I would be winding yarn until the cows came home. This is a cheap, time-saving trick.

Step 2: Buy fun yarn in different colors/textures. (or deplete your yarn box supply)

Step 3: Start winding. The Styrofoam is sticky so you don't need glue. You just stick the end of the yarn on the Styrofoam, start turning and then tuck in your finished end when you've sufficiently covered the surface.

Step 4: Sit back and enjoy your yarn ball magic. The best part is once I started winding, the entire project took less than an hour. My kind of project.

I know it's a bit kitschy looking, but for the time being I love it and imagine how broke I would be if I had to stock up on Trohv yarn balls? 

And for kicks, here's a fun pic of Frank resting his head on the top step.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Shower Power

Hi guys. It's been a while. Again I'm here with a non-Frank post, but I had to share some fun pics from a fun party I helped throw for a fun mom-to-be.

One of my dearest friends Jessie had a baby last week (hi Jake!) so this post is dedicated to the 8lb. hunk-a-hunk-a-burning love.

I remember the day J told me she was pregnant, I instantly started brainstorming ideas for her shower.  We have always shared similar feelings about wedding and baby showers. Lots of food? Good. Lots of dessert? Great. Two hours of watching-the-pregnant-girl-open-onsies? Not so much.  I knew exactly the type of party to throw for Jessie.

Since I live in MD, and J lives in Richmond, the logistics of throwing a RIC shower were a little tricky. Luckily, J's good friend Ryan was up for the challenge of planning a "destination" shower with me, and fortunately, her good friend Cody opened up her fabulous newly-renovated Fan home for the party.

I wish I had taken a picture of the car trunk. Here's a visual: two bags of white candles, three bags of candle holders, candle sticks, votive holders. One overflowing bag of candy. Three folding tables. 18 folding chairs. 1 white dog riding shot-gun.

It was a great night shared with some wonderful women. We were so happy to celebrate Jessie and the soon-to-be Jacob Henry in style.

Here are some pics:
The money shot. Check out Cody's fabulous chandelier! Thanks to the space, we were able to have a seated dinner for 18.

We asked guests to bring their gifts unwrapped. We had them on display in the dining room so guests could see the goods.

What better favor then a candy bar? The chocolate dipped Jumbo marshmallows were a hit. I was concerned they would go stale quickly, but they were fresh in tupperware for at least 3 days after the shower.
This was Ryan's awesome idea. We created a tree for everyone to sign with their thumb prints. A fun alternative to a guest book, and a cute piece of artwork for the baby's room. There are many versions of the tree below many layers of paint, but that's our little secret.

Blue tissue paper flowers on top of chinese take out boxes. Thanks to the labels they served as name cards and favor boxes.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A non-Frank post. God forbid.

Thought some of you might enjoy a few random shots from the last few months that don't include a 16lb. white dog.

Random item #1:

A.J. and Chris ran the Gettysburg North-South marathon on May 1st. They both did amazing. Anyone that runs 26.2 miles is amazing to me. I don't care if it took you 10 days. I don't care if you did it on your hands and knees. The course was a beast, but they both survived. My camera wasn't keeping up with my artistic intentions, (yes, that's a total excuse for me not knowing what setting to use) so excuse the blurry pics.
The crowd was a little different in Gettysburg compared to the crowd at my marathon in Chicago. Slightly fewer people.

View from the spectator lot.

Random item #2:

I was in charge of Mother's Day desserts. My mom was having a cookout. I was flipping through my beloved Hello Cupcake! book and thought these were perfect. They were super easy to make, but a little expensive since you need 2-3 cups of white and yellow jelly bellys. Make sure you know where to get your beans before hand. I had to scramble and make 4 calls to various candy stores before I found a place that sold them by color. Tip: assemble the corn-boats when you arrive at your final destination. If you don't, the boats will tip over in the car, despite your verbally demanding that they stay in place. And if your husband is driving, you will become increasingly more frustrated that he does not understand the importance of driving at a snails-pace to save the cupcakes. True story. It's not pretty.

Random item #3:

If you want to impress someone, buy them flowers from Costco. It never fails that I find the most beautiful roses at Costco. Two dozen = $15. Unbeatable.

Random item #4:
We spent the evening with our favorite midget last night. J&J's pool opened for Memorial Day and it was so much fun watching Coop reacquaint himself with the water. Such a little man.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

It's been awhile...

So I fell off the consistent-blogger wagon, again. The last time I posted something Frank was at the beginning of surgery recovery, and now he's 90% better. The goal was to keep people posted along the way, but considering the "twice-a-day" rehab sessions that Frank and I were doing - time for blogging fell by the wayside.

Regardless, here's the update in bullet-point fashion:

- There were a lot of emails and calls to the surgeon that sounded like this "Should he move like this? Is he using his leg enough when he does _____? Is he using his leg too much if he does _____? Did the wind hit him in the wrong direction? etc. etc. etc.". I was a tad neurotic, but Frank is not the best communicator when it comes to his feelings.

- Frank HATED sleeping in his crate in the kitchen. We were serenaded to an hour-long concert of whines and cries before bed each night. We would hear his cone banging against the crate. It was heartbreaking, and I'm sure it's only a teeny-tiny slice of what it's like to hear your baby "cry it out". God bless you moms and dads of real human babies. We tried a stupid DAP collar which was supposed to put off pheromones that made Frank feel all warm and fuzzy like he did was he was first born and with his mom. Total scam. He just had some extra bling around his neck when he cried from his crate.

- I officially became the neighborhood creeper as Frank and I would SLLLLlllllooooowly walk up and down the sidewalks and hills outside as we started his rehab. We took it slow. We started at 5 minute walks. We've built up to 2x 30 min walks each day. I'm just sad that I'm not seeing the health benefits of walking at a 40-min mph pace in my butt and thighs.

- He received a clean bill of health at his 4-week checkup. Suture site healed nicely. Bones healed great on the inside. We were discharged and got to cancel his 8-week x-rays and checkup. (I heard an audible hallelujah-chorus from my wallet.)

- We now refer to his bad leg as the "Frosted Leg". The leg looks white from a distance, and it's slowly growing back. The rest of his hair has gone berserk. He gets his summer buzz tomorrow.

- Everything is going well - the last stop on the recovery tour is to get his muscle mass built up on his bad leg. We're getting there slowly but surely and are oh-so-happy to have this one behind us.

A few pics to share:
Part of therapy was tying a hair scrunchie to his good leg and building an obstacle course of pillows for him to walk on. It felt like the home-version of American Gladiator. Obviously, his show name would have been TANK.

There was one casualty throughout the surgery process. The bed we bought at the beginning of surgery didn't make it. As Frank started to feel better, he became more and more interested in ripping all of the stuffing out of his bed. This is his new bed. This is bed 5. Frank is only 2. The costs associated with Frank's bad bed habits are astronomical.

Look @ the dog on the tag. Pretty good impression.

Frank has finally made it back on the couches. Happy pup.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Rack Attack (not to be confused with SBTB Zack Attack)

 Fun, happy surprise in the middle of a tough, emotional week: our wine rack arrived! My parents very generously gave us the piece as our Christmas gift and we (read: I) have been counting the days until its arrival.

I found the rack at Trohv (formerly known as Red Tree). This store is one of my happy places. If I go to hell one day, I know I'll find myself standing in the DMV, on the phone with Verizon, with a MD hillbilly behind me smacking her gum in my ear. If I go to heaven, I think it will be very reminiscent of Trohv. And the big man will smell like cinnamon cupcakes.

I digress...

The rack arrived on Friday. The delivery guys were super nice, super careful and were nice to Frank. One of them said he looked like a cat, and Frank almost kicked him in the nuts, but then he gave Frank good scratches and all was well with the world. My only complaint about the delivery crew is I was WAITING with bated breath for them to make the obvious comment... "Hey lady, nice rack". Unfortunately, they refrained. You can't pass up jokes like that. It would have been a major morale booster.

 The goal is to keep the rack full, but constantly rotating. Right now it's a mix of bottles from our NZ trip, Napa Trip and Trader Joe's Charles Shaw. How's that for variety?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

We've got a Tripod on our hands.

I feel like I've been running my mouth about this for a long time, but for those that are unfamiliar, Frank had knee surgery on his back left leg on Tuesday. 

Quick back story: When we were living with my parents in 2010, we noticed that Frank had a funny little skip in his step. We went in for a check-up and the vet told us he has loose knee caps. We went to the referred orthopedic animal surgeon and he confirmed that Frank had patellar luxation and needed surgery....and with that surgery came an 8-week recovery process. Shoot me now. 

The 8-week recovery was the reason we kept putting it off. Frank wasn't in pain. He still could run around with his buddies. It didn't seem to bother him. But recently we noticed that he was favoring his right leg and losing muscle mass in his left leg. Both of these things could lead to injury eventually, and we figured it would be better to deal with the issue when we had control over the situation and Frank's comfort level. Also,  considering I work from home and we have the least amount of family responsibilities as possible right now we figured it was now or never.

Monday was a sad day. I did a little photo shoot of Frank in all his hairy-glory since I knew the surgery would probably cause Mr. Frank Sinatra to lose a bit of his mojo. We went for a long walk, there were lots of treats and he had some good sunbathing time on the back porch. 

I dropped him off on Tuesday morning for surgery. He hopped out of the car, and happily trotted away with the vet tech as she took him in the back room. All I kept thinking was he's going to wake up post-surgery wondering what the H went wrong in his life.

We got to pick him on Wednesday afternoon. We sat down with the vet tech for over an hour to get all of our instructions re: pain pills, antibiotics, cartilage injections, cold compresses, rehab exercises, food, potential problems.

Finally they brought Frank to us in the doomed cone-of-shame and we were able to take him home. A.J. drove and I sat in the front seat nervously cradling him in my arms (similar to the way you would carry a pile of firewood) - I guess I should have stepped up the weight on the 10 lb. bicep curls I've been doing since 1999.My arms were burning!

The first night was bad but we're figuring things out. It took four 30-minute bathroom sessions outside where Frank refused to move before I realized he was demanding that the cone come off. It took almost an hour of crying/yelping to know we should put his crate back in the kitchen instead of our bedroom for sleeping - not smart on our part. We also need to hawk-eye his pain medication intake - we've found two peanut-butter laced pills in random places throughout the house - we think he's hiding them under his tongue and spitting them out at some point - channeling the mental patients he sees on TV I guess.

Poor pup is being a good patient overall. He pretty much sleeps all day - you can tell he's bummed out by his situation - we were watching Tori & Dean's STORIbook Wedding yesterday (judge away) and they were planning a pug-themed Jewish wedding. For almost an hour there were pugs in yamakas running around on the TV and Frank didn't budge. PUGS IN YAMAKAS. That's about as bark-worthy as it gets. I just hope he gets his zest for life back in a few weeks. I don't want to have to look into Puppy Prozac.

A few pics of our little patient:
Frank's universe for the next 8 weeks. Those two pillow are where I slept on Thursday a.m.

Our little Picasso. Only one ear seems to stand up at a time.

We've never had better TV reception.

What we're working with.

A.J. providing a good chin rest.

Frank's buddy Blythe came over for a visit and some cuddles.

"I. HATE. THIS. CONE."(Sneak peak into Frank's funniest characteristic - he's spotted like a pink and black cow under his fur. You can see it on the inside of his mouth.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Westie in a Well

The fresh spring air has inspired me to tackle some of the nagging items on the to-do list. One of the many is to re-paint the mirror that we have hanging in our living room. I love the mirror, a pass-along from my mom, but it's too plain for the space where it hangs. It's hanging on a beige wall (the paint color is literally named "utterly beige". How depressing.), above a brown leather chair and between two brown & beige curtains. Did I tell you the Leimenstolls were the most boring couple on the planet? Potentially a true story based on my design decisions of late. We need a little drama. Pics of the final product will come soon, but the best part of the entire process was watching Frank "discover" himself in the mirror. I think at one point he thought a fellow Westie had fallen in a well and was signaling him for help. Frank has a lot of good qualities, but he's no Lassie.

Monday, March 21, 2011


So... lately, I've been on a sandwich kick for lunch. And for some reason, I'd rather eat a sandwich in front of the T.V. rather than at the table. Dinner is the complete opposite. Lately when I've been eating lunch on the couch, Frank will appear from out of nowhere and stalk my plate. Literally, he creeps up silently and parks himself at my feet. Sometimes he sends a quick bark/yelp, that translates to "yo ma, i think you forgot to make me one!" Sometimes he turns on his cat-dog moves, scales the back of the couch and attempts a sneak attack from above. Other times he just sits at my feet looking pitiful.  When it comes to the four-legged, the ONE thing that we have been strict about is"people food". Frank gets fed dog food once in the morning. He gets fed dog food once in the evening. 1/2 cup serving each. No wonder he only weighs 15 lbs. I could weigh 15 lbs. too if someone fed me every meal. Occasionally Frank lucks out in the kitchen when something falls off the counter, but for the most part, he's all dog food all the time. A.J. bought me a door mat for the garage that reads: "THE DOG, DAY 751: MY CAPTORS CONTINUE TO TORMENT ME WITH BIZARRE RUBBER SQUEAK TOYS. THEY EAT LAVISH MEALS IN MY PRESENCE WHILE I AM FORCED TO SUBSIST ON DRY CEREAL. THE ONLY THING THAT KEEPS ME GOING IS THE HOPE OF EVENTUAL ESCAPE...THAT, AND THE SATISFACTION I GET FROM OCCASIONALLY RUINING SOME PIECE OF FURNITURE. I FEAR I MAY BE GOING INSANE".

Sorry, tuna is just not photogenic.
Friday was Frank's lucky day. My phone rang in the kitchen, I absent-mindedly put my plate on the couch when I went for my phone. I came back to find half of this sandwich on my plate. The other half on the floor where Frank was doing quick work on devouring it. He's no dummy. Everyone deserves a break sometimes, especially on a Friday.

On the same topic - I thought I'd share the latest home project happening around these parts. When we were in San Fran last fall, it was our good fortune to be introduced to Gott's Roadside Tray Gourmet (www.gotts.com). It's burgers and fries, but so much more. There's one in the Embarcadero section of the city, but also one parked right in the heart of Napa. Just like Frank, Gott's is no dummy. People who have been stumbling around all day swishing and swirling wine can think of nothing better to eat than a hamburger and sweet potato fries. A life changer.

Food aside, Gott's interior styling is so great. It feels like a diner. But clean and modern too if that's possible. They have this enormous neon sign above the grill that says "EAT".  Yes, please. When we got home, I realized that we have this small piece of wall above our sink that was screaming for an "EAT" sign. And besides, if anyone were to ever get confused as to the purpose of the kitchen, all they need to do is look up. Unfortunately, the red head vetoed neon-stylings for our kitchen, so I modified the design a bit.

I bought the letters at JoAnn's for less than $3 a piece. I found this great wood-grain wrapping paper at Kate's Paperie in NYC (http://katespaperie.com/)  when we were visiting Emily. The paper design was VERY forgiving as I tried my best to cover each letter completely. A less-busy design would probably have shown the patchwork efforts of my decoupage.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Frank's Tough Life: Comfy Cozy Couch Cushions

There are two possible scenarios that we are faced with each night at dinner time. 

1) Frank barks at the wind and acts like a raving lunatic, physically removing himself from the floor with the intensity of his barks. It makes for a very enjoyable meal.

2) Frank curls up in our living room like the cutest puppy in the whole world.

The ratio of #1 to #2 is very unbalanced.

Tonight Frank chose Door #2 and I managed to snap a few pics.

We have two big brown couches that form an L in our living room. L for Leimenstoll. Frank can easily walk from one couch to the other, and he does so often. He also rocks his most cat-like moves and perches himself on top of every cushion available to him. He stays on one for about 10 mins. Then he moves onto the other. And then he'll switch couches. And perch. And so on and so on. You know how designers like the karate-chopped look of pillows? Well Frank could most definitely be a professional cushion-chopper. On the rare days that I clean the house, I literally pull the cushion down so it's horizontal, beat the living h*ll out of it with my fist to redistribute the filling, and then sit on it for good measure. A properly formed couch cushion lasts for about 5 minutes if Frank is sleepy.

I took these pictures within a 10 minute time span. You'll see that he rotates between the "Seal w/ Ears", "Plankton" and "One-eyed pirate" sleep moves very quickly.

Excuse the fuzzy pictures - I took these tonight 2 glass of wine deep and with little lighting.

You can't deny that he looks like a beached seal with ears.

Cushions have been officially chopped.

A.J. thinks he looks like a little bear. I think he looks like a sea plankton.

You should see the bed-head he has when he wakes up from this position.