Sunday, November 27, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

As previously stated: I love Christmas.

My cards are done (just need to mail them...), and now that it's after Thanksgiving and socially acceptable to have public displays of Christmas-ness, it's time to decorate!

Last year I made a....flock?...of snowmen.  What is the appropriate term for a large number of snowmen, anyway?  In any case, here they are in all their glory:

Snowman attack!  They're about 2" tall, I'd guess.

Close-up of a few.  Some have presents, scarves, hats, signs, etc...
A few new additions this year include some greenery.  I bought each individual piece separate, and pieced them together to make a few small arrangements:

There's a couple small, silver presents and a toy drum in the center.  This is now under the TV.

Xyla posing with a bunch of pine cones, berries and branches.
I have about a million other decorations (mostly penguins...) and wall-hangings, so it's nice to see Christmas finally starting to come together!  Tree will come next weekend, likely.

As a side note, who knew that Christmas lights contain lead?  On the wires?  Apparently they do, and at pretty high levels.  Needless to say, I'm terrified of about half of my decorations (things that touch the lights, the lights themselves, etc).  Thank goodness for a wonderful husband that tries to reason with me and assure me that it'll all be ok.  I'm still kinda freaked out and can't deal with that yet, but we'll see.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Christmas Cards

I finally broke free of my sewing-related projects (sewing-related meaning: cross-stitch, felt and regular hand-sewing) and started some serious work on our Christmas cards!

(First off: in case it hasn't been made painfully clear already, I love Christmas.  Best time of the year!  Maybe I'll have to write about it sometime-- but I love everything about it.  I mean, it's a holiday where people are happy.  What's not to love?!)

Now, I've actually been working on ideas for a design since, oh, June or July probably.  And I finalized the general design around August.  But, now I finally got to the real nitty gritty and started really getting into "production" mode.  Bought supplies, colored it in and worked out all the scanning and printing settings I need.  All-in-all, a very "paper" project.  It's nice to be using a different medium!  Can't wait to fully assemble them.

Here's a preview!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I'm back!

Well, gee!  I've certainly been MIA for a while.  But, I've still been trying to broaden my horizons!

I've taken up, well, weight-lifting.  Allen may scoff at my workouts (he doesn't really, but I feel pretty inadequate, compared to his P90X and big muscles!), but I've been following The New Rules of Lifting for Women.  I've been an avid cardio freak for the past 7+ years, and it's taken over a year to convince myself to do weights + minimal cardio on weights days (although I still have one full cardio day a week full of the stairmaster, elliptical AND stationary bike-- and love every sweaty, miserable second on it).  On the other hand, my extremely flabby arms have, gasp, muscles!  They're just starting to show, but they're really there!  As someone who went from overweight to underweight, and now in the middle of the "healthy" range, my poor arms are a extra flabby-on-flabby.  So, this is exciting!  On the other hand, I've also gained a few pounds (and my pants are noticeably tighter, so don't go starting that "you're gaining muscle!" business), but I'm pushing through.  New experiences!  Branching out!  Time to re-shape my workout and my body!

Allen and I have both been playing around with our new DSLR camera.  Xyla has been our main focus for experimenting, but the view from our apartment also makes for some fantastic photos!  Here's a couple:

Happy Halloween!
Love her face!
DOUBLE RAINBOW!  It actually was the entire arch, too.  Beautiful!
Love the contrasting colors.  On a side note, that kid that went missing from the car in Bellevue?  That apartment is where the mom lives.  It's just down the street from us!
Taking a walk on the trail
Ohhhh, I miss riding my bike!  (The trail is on the right)  Way too cold, though.  I'm not that hardcore.
I also had a Halloween party with entirely too much food!  Which is always a good thing.  Also, awesome costumes by all!  The menu included (all homemade, I might add!):
  • Mini pumpkin pies (made in little 1" tart molds)
  • Chex mix (featuring as much orange as possible-- cheez its, cheetos, doritos...etc)
  • Baby mummies (ie: 'lil smokies, wrappen in pillsbury dough, with a slit cut in it to show two little mustard eyes peeking out!)
  • Chocolate cupcakes (mini and regular-sized) with orange buttercream frosting
  • Pretzels (lessons learned: read through the recipe thoroughly, and multiple times, so that you aren't surprised when you realize you do not, in fact, own a dutch oven.  Still turned out wonderfully, though!)
  • Pumpkin chocolate bars
  • Rosemary flatbread and spinach artichoke dip
Whew!  Needless to say, my kitchen was a MESS!  But, well worth it.  Also, one more concoction:

Let it be known that jello added to any fizzy drink is pretty awesome.  Not only does it look cool, but it makes your drink kind of...squishy!  Just a fun way to change things up.

Let's see, what else?  Saving up and planning to (FINGERS CROSSED!) buy a house sometime next summer/fall.  So, we've been researching.

I have my Christmas cards all planned out.  I just need to make the final cards!  That's my goal this weekend-- have them done (or at least have all the supplies together and set up so I can start, and finish during the week next week)!  Then I can focus on everything else I want to do.

Sorry guys, but that's one thing I won't be branching away from.  I love, love, love Christmas!  And that's not going to change.  Sadly, there's only so much our small apartment can handle, so I'll have to pick and choose when it comes to Christmas crafts-- but now is the time to get them all started!  I'm so excited to have my own place for the whole season.  I moved into the apartment last December, so I was jointly unpacking and decorating for Christmas!  This year, the focus is 100% Christmas.  WOOHOO!  It's not called "the most wonderful time of the year" for no reason!

Anyway, there's that update.  I'll be better in the future, I promise!

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Well, I haven't posted in a while.  Why not?  Mostly because I have too many projects and frankly, I'd rather be working on them them writing about their non-completion.  But, I now have two things off my list.. and I realized very important:  I love felt.

I've always loved sewing-- or at least, the idea of it.  I'm decent enough with a pattern, if I have proper help and instruction from my mom; and I've always been able to make up my own "patterns" to make whatever I wanted (in fact, I'd rather just wing it and make it up myself, rather than confuse myself with others' patterns).  Since moving away from home, however, I lack something very important: a sewing machine.  Our one-bedroom apartment, as spacious as it is, doesn't have much actual storage space, so until I can figure out somewhere to store one (or until we buy a house and have more space!..including my own craft room, hint hint..), I'm sewing machine-less.

Which means everything I sew these days is done by hand.  I've been working on cross-stitch, but that doesn't really count.  Instead, I have been relying on felt!  The fact that edges don't all have to be hemmed, and it's easy to cut and work with, is ideal.  The fact that it's dirt cheap is even better!  Sure, there are no prints (only solid colors), usually only comes in small squares, and you can't do anything too complex, but it's nice enough to work with.

Since it's October, the first order of business was, of course, to make my cat a Halloween costume!  Seeing as it is Xyla's first Halloween (with us; she was busy being abandoned and send to a shelter for her very first Halloween), Allen suggested she be a pumpkin.  A Jack-o-Lantern, to be exact.  Perfect!

First, I assembled her body piece.  Basically, a pumpkin-shaped cape with a tummy strap to keep it in place:

Xyla the Jack-o-Lantern!
Yikes, why can't I get it to rotate?  Anyway, she doesn't mind this part too much.  Stays in place relatively well, and she tolerates it just fine.

Next came the cap.  I figured she needed some sort of a hat with a stem, to really get the "pumpkin" part to come across.  It took some adjusting, and lots of checking it with her head (which she did not appreciate), but finally, I got a good design:

Xyla in her full costume!
Unfortunately I didn't have any orange ribbon handy, and I was too impatient to wait until I could buy some.  Oh well-- it matches her fur..?  Anyway, here she is in her full glory!  I was laughing so hard, I only got one good picture with my phone.  I'll get the nice camera and give her a proper photo-shoot later!  The point is-- felt!  Amazing!

Next up, some fall decorations.  I had this idea in my head and modified and changed it as I went on.  Mostly, I wanted to show the stitching on the felt (rather than try to hide the thread, as I did on Xyla's costume):

Fall leaves, above the washer and dryer closet
Printed off some outlines of leaves, did a blanket stitch around the edges and some big stitches in the middle.  Here's a sort-of close up of a couple:

At first I was unhappy with how the stitching kind of crinkled up the felt, but it actually makes them more leaf-like, and adds some dimensionality.

Both of these projects were fun, relatively quick (I have a short attention span..), completed in many short sessions, and best of all--easy to stuff back into my shoebox of Current Project Supplies which is the only way I can keep the desk/table/coffee table/floor clean and clear of all my stuff!

I have a few more fall things I want to do soon, but I also need to finalize our Christmas cards!  I keep putting it off.  The sketches are all done and I know basically how I'll do them, but I need to put in a little more work to finalize things before I get too busy with other Christmas-y things!

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Yikes; I've been terrible at updating.

The most recent event has been receiving our apartment re-lease information.  Rent has gone up a huge amount, and while we could pay it, Allen and I really don't believe we get enough to pay that much (we have a one bedroom apartment.  There's only so much you want to pay for ONE ROOM, no matter how nice it is).  In any case, the last few days/week have been spent searching for and researching alternate housing online, and starting visits.

Still holding out hope they'll lower the re-lease amount, to something we'd be happy with... but I'm not sure.  In any case, that's been mildly annoying (to put it lightly).

I often think of things I want to post about, but never do it.  So, here's a list.  Feel free to imagine what wonderfully inventive and enlightening posts they may be:

  • The trail we go biking on.  I've seen the strangest things-- from a bird in a cage strapped to a cyclists back, to a guy with no legs, zipping along on a little 4-wheeled contraption, powered by his arms.  It's amazing to see quick snapshots of other peoples' lives as you pass by each other.
  • On a similar note, there's a certain stretch of the trail that, if you're on it at the right time of day, is positioned perfectly east-to-west, meaning you can see a perfect shadow of yourself in front of you.  I love this.  In that silhouette, I can see my crazy calves and powerful thighs, and it makes me feel so strong and alive!  Which alwasy makes me think-- why do we strive for an unattainable, perfect "hollywood" body?  The body is an amazing thing; why not celebrate all that it can do?  For the record, I usually hate my body, but in those few moments when I see that shadow, I feel proud.
  • And leading off of that, I realized I have begun to assume that people know things about me.  For instance, I assume it's public knowledge that I used to have an eating disorder.  To me, it is an integral part of my being.  So when I meet someone new, and say, "Hi, I'm Rosanne," I assume that what I'm really telling the person is, "I'm Rosanne, I had an eating disorder but I'm fine now, but I'm still uncomfortable with myself once in a while"..which of course is just silly!  So, I wonder what everyone else assumes they are conveying to new acquaintances?
  • I'm also getting entirely too excited about Christmas.  It's only 86 days away, you know!  There are so many things I want to do and make and see.  But, alas-- not enough time (or money) to do them all.  Crafts, decorations, treats (both sweet and savory!), places to go and see and things to do with friends and family... I'm so excited!
  • I already planned my cat's halloween costume.  That's right, I am making my cat a halloween costume.  I'm probably the most ridiculous person ever.
  • Can't we just buy a house already?
  • And while I'm at it, can I please have my own private airplane?  It doesn't even have to be a jet; I'll take a nice turboprop.  When does the HondaJet go into full production?  Can I get in line?

This list has turned into a random list of what's on my mind, and less about exciting posts.  In any case, I'll try to get better about posting.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Protein "Cookies"

Life is busy!  Work is busy, weekends are busy... all in a good way, of course!  I keep thinking of things I want to post about, but haven't gotten around to it clearly.  So for now-- something quick!  Protein "cookies!"

Ok.  So I'm a big fan of protein.  As a vegetarian (ok, pescatarian, I now eat fish when necessary-- mostly to boost the protein, of course!), it's always a challenge to fit in the amount of protein I need/like.  I used to not really pay attention, and was getting "enough" protein, but once I decided to make a conscious effort to really up the protein, I noticed a huge difference.  I can tell when I need protein; lots of times I'm kinda hungry, but really, I can tell I really need protein.  I feel so much better, etc etc etc...  In any case, I also try to 1) widen the variety of protein choices, and 2) rely less on processed, "fake meat" (which I have for dinner, anyway).

Anyway, my breakfast must be two things: chock full of protein, low in sodium, and easy to eat on the go (since I eat breakfast late, at work).  I've been making eggs in the microwave and having yogurt, which is great, but it was time for something new.  So, these protein "cookies" were born!  (I call them "cookies" because i bake them in a muffin tin, but they're kind of a cookie-like consistency..but they certainly aren't normal cookies-- much heavier, which is perfect for breakfast with coffee).

The best part?  SUPER easy:

1/2 cup oatmeal
1 scoop protein powder
1/4 cup egg beaters
splenda and cinnamon to taste.

Mix.  Pat into muffin tins (break into 2 or 3).  Bake at 350F, for ~8 minutes.


Calories:  230
Protein:  23g
Carbohydrates: 29g
Fat:  2.5g

I'd like a bit more healthy fats, but oh well.  Other than that, how can you beat those stats?!  And like I said-- absolutely divine with coffee.  Yum.

Ok, I'm done salivating over breakfast.  It's certainly not the most exciting recipe ever, slightly dry and heavy which some people may not like, but I don't mind it.  I love coming up with new food combinations, and it's been a while.  My next quest?  Protein-full biscotti. Balance Bar makes an "almond biscotti" protein bar, which is pretty good.  But I want REAL biscotti, with lots of protein.  I'll have to give it a go sometime.

Any other fun, quick "recipes"?!  Cheap, quick, easy, nutritious...what's better?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

ATC - Crowned Cats!

Busy weekend, but in a good way: checking out some houses, watching the last night of racing at the velodrome, hanging out with friends, Sounders game, dinner and time with my parents and brother, and a perfectly lazy but productive (?) Sunday today.

I did finish the cards for the Crowned Cats ATC swap.  Here are mine!
Curious Crowned Cat - Based on a photo from the shelter we got our cat from

Princess Crowned Cat

Sleepy Crowned Cat - Originally based on another photo, but turned into a copy of Xyla!

Thanks! Crowned Cat (last minute :( oops) - quickly based off of Shadow, my brothers' cat

Again, I'd like to think the quality is better in person, AND my scanner kept cutting them off!  But, you can see the gist of them all.

Better post next time!  :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Weekend in California

This weekend, Allen asked if I was going to blog about visiting his family in California.  So now, I suppose I'm obligated to do so.  Lucky for me, there was plenty of wonderfully ordinary yet perfectly enlightening moments.  Let's put it this way:  Allen's half-siblings are 3 and 5 years old, meaning I spent nearly all my time with them.

Childlike wonder is the most perfect example of the notion of "Ordinary Renaissance."  As a child, everything is new and exciting, and the world is this big, amazing thing just waiting to be unraveled and understood.  As an adult, we tend to see things as commonplace.  Even when we learn or discover something new, it's typically an addendum to something we knew before; a new recipe for an exotic food may be totally unheard of, but it's still a recipe, which we have experience with and know will yield delicious results.

But spending time with those two kids reminded me how amazing the world can be.  Kids constantly repeat things back to you, trying out the feeling of a new phrase on their tongue.  There were many times I'd say something, simply as a statement, and I'd have it (or certain words) repeated back to me--but said with the air of testing the waters, and with a tone of awe.

I always try to take a step back, and look at things from fresh eyes, but that's nearly impossible to do.  Unless something truly is new, how can you "pretend" it's new-- since a new experience is defined by "newness," in the first place.  So maybe instead, I should focus on the beauty of things, and how extraordinarily our world works.  Kids don't understand the world, since it's new to them, and are so easily entertained and enthralled by every little idea and sound and object and feeling.  In the same way, I should be able to appreciate even the smallest of things, not because they are new, but because they really are amazing.  After all, why do we lose that sense of wonderment as we grow up?  Simply through experience.  We expect something, because we've experienced it before, and are no longer amazed by the outcome.  But why?  There's absolutely no reason to lose a sense of amazement (or, at the very least, appreciation) simply because we think we understand something.

All in all, the weekend was a good reminder to stop taking things so seriously and appreciating the wonder in life.  After all, what will wonder and amazement hurt?  Those kids were so much fun, no matter how much pain I'm in now (let's just say I was a human jungle gym).

In any case, Allen and I took a million photos.  We have a nice new camera, so we fully used that to our advantage and played around with all the neat things it can do.  Unfortunately, they aren't on the computer yet-- so you just get a couple quick photos I took with my phone.

Leaving San Fransisco

Baby plane!

Clouds over San Fransisco

Mt. Rainier, flying to California

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rootandblossom: giveaway!

Not gonna lie-- Lena's blog, rootandblossom, was a big reason for me starting my own blog!  I've had so much fun reading about her daily adventures near and far, and had already been kicking around the idea of starting my own... that it was only natural to finally give in and try it out ;)

Lena currently has a lovely giveaway going on, for a set of three adorable pear ornaments!  Go check it out, and go ahead and read all her posts!

In case you missed it, here's the full link:

Monday, August 29, 2011

ATCs: Artist Trading Cards

Ok, I felt bad.  Everything is about my bike, bike, bike.  I feel like the guy in that commercial, and the wife complains that "all he ever talks about is the boat.  The boat, the boat, the boat!" haha.  So, time to talk about something completely different-- Artist Trading Cards!  (or ATCs, for short)

I discovered these cards at an art shop in San Francisco a couple years ago, and my mom and I had fun sending them to each other on and off over the last couple years.  It's just a 3.5" x 2" "card" that you can pay $5 for a pack of 12 of, or make a bunch of them by cutting up a piece of $0.25 cardstock.  Some people use the same size pieces of cloth, or any media.  ANYWAY, you decorate them however you see fit.  Draw, paint, collage, the aforementioned standard rules! is an official site (there are likely more), and people can "host" swaps.  They set ground rules for that particular swap if wanted (some people don't want collage, some people only want pen and ink...etc etc), and then a theme.  Whimsical Fish, or Crowned Cats, for example!  Once you complete your cards (usually 3, plus an extra for the host if you'd like), you mail them to the host, and you receive 3 cards back, from 3 other people who submitted them!  Such a fun way to "swap" fun cards.

Here's a set of 4 I just mailed:

This was for a "Whimsical Fish" swap...  I chose to go with different holidays, but it wasn't a requirement.  For my first official swap (not just trading random ones with my mom), it was great!  (note: these look better in real life.  The color didn't come out super vividly in the scan, and I also went back and added a blue background to the top three)

The best part?  a 3" x 2.5" card isn't intimidating at all.  Some people go all-out and do oil paintings and everything, but for the most part, it isn't too hard to churn one out in an evening.  So, you get to get the creative juices flowing without getting overwhelmed!  And you can enter as many or as few swaps as you like.  Perfect!

My next ones I'm working on is for the "Crowned Cats" swap.  There are so many swaps going on, but I take long enough to get them done as it is (every week or so I'll do one or two).  But, there are ones based on movies (Star Wars was a recent one), styles of art (Zetti, which is a super cute and unique style), or totally random (Obscure Holidays)!  Super fun!

Beautiful Day

Bike ride was fantastic today -- it was a cool, grey morning and afternoon, but by the time I was off work and on the trail, the sun was out and the lighting was stunning!  I kept thinking about how perfect things looked and felt.  Scenery was gorgeous, of course.  The fresh sunlight, low in the sky, with a backdrop of the stormy clouds was stunning.  And my bike is AWESOME!  3 rides so far, and I just keep falling more in love with it!

The view outside my living room window-- taken yesterday, but you can imagine the beautiful views today!

I've never had a road bike, so I suppose I don't have much to compare it to (aside from mountain bikes) and may be slightly biased-- but my bike is amazing!  Stiff and highly responsive, smooth gears, oh I just love it.  :)  Takes my rides to a whole new level.  Feels great!  Such a great, peaceful ride to both work out and relax.  Amazing how those two go hand in hand!

I've also only been passed ONCE since I started riding this bike.  Woohooooo!  And the guy that passed me had a short conversation with me, about how much he liked his bike and how he didn't think he was going to catch me.  Encountering a nice person on the trail was so refreshing.  I so easily get frustrated by the people who 1) don't watch we're they're going and step out in front of you, 2) take up the ENTIRE width of the trail, 3) go entirely too slow and make it hard to go around....etc etc etc.  So, just another happy component to the ride.

Anyway, that was my most beautiful moment of the day: quality time with a great bike, in a wonderfully beautiful location.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

New bike!

That's right-- a Cannondale Synapse 7.

Long story short, I'm in love.

I actually began researching this bike a while ago, after seeing it at REI.  It's nearly the same color as my car, which was also my main wedding color.  I really like the obnoxious blue.  So, naturally, I read reviews and looked into it, and decided it would be my next bike (I have a mountain bike, but wanted to get a road bike since I've been using it and treating it as a road bike).

So, on a leisurely walk to the neighborhood REI after work, imagine my surprise when it was marked down-- 25% off!!  I took it for a test ride, and I was hooked.  Since I was going to get it sometime in the near future anyway, we decided today was as good a day as any.  I am SUPER excited to go take it for a long ride tomorrow after work!

Growing up, I enjoyed biking, but it was more of a quick fun activity more than anything.  After 4 years at college without a bike, I was excited to get a bike and use it to work out, too.  Allen and I chose mountain bikes to ease into the biking word and see how we liked it.  Conveniently coinciding with watching the Tour de France, Allen and I dove into cycling-- and although our two Navaro bikes are great, our mountain bikes on the trail just weren't cutting it.

The allure of biking is hard to describe.  I used to be an regular runner (I've finally resigned myself to the fact that my body just isn't built for it; I was constantly getting injured and forced to limp around in pain after a run), but running is different.  I've found biking to be a wonderful release, and a great way to get in tune with my body.  Nothing compares to recognizing the power of my legs and connecting with the bike.  Just getting pedals and cleats on my old bike helped strength that connection, as did riding a track bike at the velodrome-- I began to learn how to not just use the bicycle as a tool to achieve a means (ride the bike, get from point A to point B, and get a workout it), but to work with the bicycle.

Does that sound cheesy?  Because it totally is.  But regardless, I am beyond excited to go take it out for a ride tomorrow.  Bring on those miles!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011



I've jumped onto the blogging bandwagon-- we'll see where it takes me!

So, what is "Ordinary Renaissance"?  I've been bouncing around ideas for a blog for a while, but it finally came to me today: everyday life has it's own mini renaissances, all the time!  And that's what I'm interested in.  In 9th or 10th grade, a teacher once remarked about how I was such a "Renaissance soul," or something like that.  It was odd, at first, but as I've grown and learned, I see how neat that idea is.  So, who am I now?

I'm a Program Manager at a company that designs and manufactures aircraft electronics and electrical power systems, meaning I work in an engineering environment but do a lot of business-related things.  On the other hand, I have a B.S. in Physics, from Washington State University, meaning I spent 4 years of my life marveling at the intricate and always elegant laws of the universe (I still marvel at them; I'm just not graded on them, now!).

I love to bake and cook, from double chocolate cookies to chicken cordon bleu for my husband (even though I'm a vegetarian).  I love to work out: the stairmaster and elliptical at the gym, cycling on the trail (or at the velodrome!), hiking, name it, I like it!  I love to draw, and work on random crafts, especially if they are Christmas related.  I love my (adult) kitten, Xyla, and snuggling with her.  I love to read and get away from the world, but I also love to socialize and go out with friends.

The point is, I like a lot of things.  This blog is to document those times in life when I find myself trying new things, and experiencing that child-like wonder of new discoveries -- those times when you have your own, personal moment of "Renaissance."  Hopefully, I can inspire myself (and others!) to seek those moments out, more and more.