Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Road Trippin'

John and I have been on the road this past week, traveling up the east coast to see some friends and family. Our first stop was New Bern, North Carolina, to see our long-time friends John and Abby Gjertsen.

New Bern is a small town packed with charm. In fact, their downtown area is the way I wish all downtowns were: lots of fun boutiques, art shops, delis, and not a single chain-store to be found. Here's a shot I took on the street by a gorgeous brick church:

There was also this old hardware store, lit with gas lamps and stuffed to the gills with everything you'd need to restore a period house:

Sorry for the yucky iPhone picture; I forgot my camera.

They almost had to drag me out of there. (And if I tell you I bought a copper toilet float - with no intention of using it in a toilet - you won't judge me, right?)

New Bern's main claim to fame is that it's the birthplace of Pepsi-Cola. Since John drinks enough Diet Pepsi and Diet Mountain Dew to bleed soda, we of course had to stop in to the little corner store:

I don't drink soda anymore - and when I did, it was Coke products - so my main highlight was the penny smashing machine. You can bet I got a couple of those!

On our second morning with the Gj's, they received some terrible news. After some tears and hugs, we left them in the care of their families and continued on to see my parents and grandmother in Williamsburg, Virginia. The weather was as miserable there as it was in New Bern, which is to say cold and rainy, so we spent our time prowling antique malls or playing PS3 at their place. (My dad is addicted to racing games, so we were up past midnight crashing into each other and shouting with laughter. Good times.)

And, because it isn't possible for me to leave an antique mall empty-handed, we currently have an old radio cabinet wrapped up and strapped in to our back seat. I forgot to take a picture, but while searching online I stumbled across this ad for it:


Ok, so you can't tell much from the picture, but trust me: it's cool. The radio has been removed so we just have the cabinet, but it's in amazing condition - and it was only $45! Granted, I have no idea how much a 1931 radio cabinet is worth, but considering it originally sold for $142.50, I figure $45 can't be that bad.

We have some fun plans for it, too. I can't wait to show you when we're done!

Our final destination - and where I'm writing this post - is just outside of Washington, D.C. Our good friends Mat and Amy live here, so we're staying with them and their two little boys. We timed our trip to coincide with the cherry blossom festival, which means DC is crowded, but also well worth the crowds:

All around the city, pinkish-white cotton-top trees are snowing petals. It's gorgeous!

John and I walked around the tidal basin on Monday, and spent some time just sitting under the dense canopy of flowers:

We've always loved DC - we even came here for our honeymoon - but I tend to forget just how much walking it takes to get around. I guess I need to be logging more hours on the ol' treadmill desk.

Looking out across the water:

We also saw several painters out:

From there we walked to the Lincoln Memorial and the new(ish) World War II Memorial. It's hard to take an original picture of things so heavily photographed, but here are my best shots (pun intended [of course]):

Walking up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

The ceiling inside.

Inside one of the two archways of the WWII Memorial.

It was a beautiful day on Monday - warm and sunny - but today we were back to the cold and rain. Plus all this yucky weather seems to have caught up with me, since I woke up this morning with a bit of a head cold. I packed my trusty neti pot, though, so here's hoping I'll be up for another spin around the city tomorrow.

We head home Thursday - wish us luck on the 15-hour drive! (Oy.)

Monday, April 4, 2011

How's it Hangin'? A Flop Tutorial

I know some of you still have snow on the ground, but for us Floridians summer is already kicking into high gear. And summer means flip flops.

Yep, we southern girls have 'em for everything: casual wear, evening wear, 'flops with heels, 'flops with big poofy flowers glued name it. They're cheap impulse buys, so it's easy to accumulate a whole mountain of flip-flops in a single season.

But say you don't like the "mountain" storage method. Say you need to get your mound o' 'flops off the floor and into a tidy system, but are limited on space. What then?

Well, how about this?

This was my no-cost solution last year: a left over curtain rod mounted on two shelf brackets, and lots of modified hangers. For the rod you could also use a wooden dowel, piece of PVC pipe, or any other strong bit of metal. To mount it we bent up the tips of two metal shelf brackets and secured the rod with small screws, but you could also use conventional closet rod hangers, which you can find in any hardware store.

Now, the fun part is the actual hangers. Here's how to make them:

First, grab a handful of the flimsiest metal hangers you can find in your closet. (You want to be able to bend them with your hands, if possible.) You'll also need a pair of needle-nosed pliers.

Cut off the bottom section of the hanger like so:

You may need to score the metal with the pliers and then snap it with your hands.

Now take your pliers and roll up the two edges, like this:

This gets the sharp edges safely out of the way, and also looks kind of cute.

Now, using both your hands and your pliers, bend your hanger into this approximate shape:

Kind of like a stick figure flexing his muscles. :)

Now, to be honest, you could just stop here. I did, for over a year. The hangers are perfectly functional, if a bit chippy and drab.

I recently went back and decided to pretty them up, though. First I put a fresh coat of spray paint on them:

And then I found some gorgeous teal, orange, and red ribbon - though it took me a little while to figure out a way to use it. In the end, I came up with this cute little hanger jacket:

Here's how you make it:

Make sure your ribbon is snug, so it doesn't fall off the hanger. To secure it you can use fabric or super glue - or, if the glue stains the ribbon like mine did, glue dots also work really well.

Step 6 shows the backside of the hanger. I suggest flipping it over like this to trim off the excess ribbon.

When you're done, your hanger should look like this:

Again, you could stop there, but I thought a red button was the perfect cherry on top for mine:

And here they are, hanging in a row:

Actually I have even more than this, but I didn't want to hang them all up because then you'd know I have that many flip-flops and it'd be, like, totally embarrassing.

Here's how the 'flops hang:

I never could get all the sides quite even. :/

And now en masse:

Plus, here's a handy bonus: you can also hang your ballerina flats on these!

And finally, since I spent the better part of an evening cleaning it out, allow me to present - for your judging pleasure - a glimpse inside my closet:

Hey! It's, like, neat and stuff!

I had to use a wide-angle lens to get this; it's pretty cramped in there. As you can see, when I'm not wearing flip-flops I'm wearing little boy's sneakers or boots. (I loooove boots.) I think the last time I wore a pair of heels was our Christmas cruise, but at least they look pretty on the shelves. ;)

So, do you guys have any nifty space-saving tips from your closet? Share in the comments!