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:  http://rootandblossom.blogspot.com/2011/08/wool-felt-pear-ornament-giveaway.html

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 cross-stitch...no standard rules!

atcsforall.com 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, snowboarding...you 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.