Wednesday, July 25, 2012

HOW TO: create a home bar

When it comes to home decor, I'm all about mixing old with new. Our home is an eclectic mix of antiques and new items; I feel like it adds character to what I would otherwise consider a character-less home. (It was built in the early 90's, after all.)

One of my latest decor obsessions is the bar cart. After seeing bar carts featured on style blogs like Glitter Guide and Cupcakes and Cashmere, I set out to recreate something similar in my own home--using as many existing items as possible. Luckily, I already had the basics: lots of alcohol and an antique piece of furniture.

Instead of a cart, I used this beautiful antique sewing cabinet that has a marble slab on top. It was a hand-me-down from my parents. Best of all, it is the perfect size for this little space in our open-concept dining room.

If you're going to set up a bar in your home, here are six key elements:

1. An interesting print or photo: I bought this two-sided page from a 1950's veterinary textbook on Etsy for $5. The other side shows the muscular structure of the horse, so I found this side just a bit more pleasant. Maybe I'll flip it around for Halloween or to scare small children who come near the bar.

2. A vintage decanter: I found this leaded glass decanter in a local antique mall. It weighs about 5 pounds (yes, I actually weighed it) and came with this beautiful vintage GIN Stieff Pewter decanter label. The decanter itself is lovely, but in all honesty, this pewter label was the main reason I bought it. Stieff Pewter is no longer in business, but it appears to be quite easy to find these decanter labels for sale on Ebay and Etsy. I love the beautiful detailing on the front; almost as much as I love gin. It's a tossup, really.

3. High ball glasses: My husband received a set of four monogrammed Sterling Cut Glass highball glasses as a gift. They are very well made and are the perfect size for a mixed drink. I stored the fourth one to make room for....

4. A vintage corkscrew: I pilfered this brass ship's anchor corkscrew from a pile of items my mother was gathering for a garage sale. It's probably from the 60's or 70's, but has just enough wear and patina to look like an antique and the worn brass adds some visual interest.

5. A tray or platter: This white platter was a wedding gift and has been gathering dust in my china cabinet for the last five years. I used it to tie that "area" of the bar together.

6. Alcohol: Clearly, this is the showpiece of the bar. At our house, bourbon whiskey and gin are favorites. Tequila isn't bad either. However, we also have a random hodgepodge of bottles we have acquired--like unopened bottles of vermouth, cheap Canadian whiskey, scotch, and other obscure items. My philosophy is this: display the "good stuff" (i.e., best looking bottles and highest quality spirits) in the front, then use bottles in the middle and back to fill in the holes. I'm not planning to drink that vermouth any time in the near future, but I put it out anyway. I just put it in the back with the other randoms.

I added small bottles and a chotchky on the end for some visual interest. Those are small bottles of Crown and a random wood piece I spray painted black.

Other essentials I plan to add in the future:

A vintage bottle opener: I'm mildly obsessed with bottle openers made from shed deer antlers. There is a decent selection of them on Ebay and Etsy. Most seem to be made with "shed" antlers, meaning they were antlers the deer naturally shed from their body throughout the course of the year, rather than antlers pilfered from a deer by a hunter. If having deer antlers in your home gives you the heebie jeebies, Bakelite made a series of bar tools and utensils from faux antlers (molded plastic) in the 50's and 60's and there are a ton of them on Etsy. Plus, they are cheap!

Drink-mixing books: There are hundreds of these on the market today, so be sure to peruse Amazon for reviews on the best books. It wouldn't hurt to find some that look cool, too.

A vintage ice bucket: If I had an actual cart (or a table with a shelf underneath) an ice bucket would be a great addition to my home bar. I like vintage buckets that add a unique flair to your bar, like these apple ice buckets on Etsy.

A unique bottle of vodka: In my book, the clear winner of this requirement is Crystal Head Vodka. Extra bonus points: the company was started by Dan Aykroyd!

Fun shot glasses: There are some cool vintage ones out there, but I also love the skull shot glasses on the Crystal Head Vodka site. They come in a pack of six for $35.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

30 things I have done

I have...

1. A tattoo. You can read the story behind it here. It was very painful, but I would get another one in a heartbeat.

2. A body piercing...sorta. I got my bellybutton pierced in college (Didn't every girl?) and later took it out. There's still a small hole that will probably be there forever.

3. Been a librarian. In high school, I started out shelving books at my local library and worked my way up to the desk. I quickly decided it was not a career goal.

4. Run 5 half marathons and completed two (small) triathlons.

5. Had surgery--twice. One was outpatient surgery, the other was major surgery that required an overnight stay in the hospital.

6. Had two concussions. Both as a college student.

7. Had a black eye--as a direct result of #6. I fell off of my bunk bed in college.

8. Been to therapy. It was one of the best decisions I've ever made.

9. Worked in the food industry. It gave me a new found respect for waiters and waitresses.

10. Witnessed the sudden death of a family member. You can read about it here.

11. Owned a cat and two guinea pigs. I will never own either ever again.

12. Been in a tractor as it was harvesting corn. Just one of the many advantages of marrying someone who grew up on a working farm.

13. Had an offense expunged from my record. As far as the world is concerned, it never happened--so I'll never tell!

14. Been hunting. It was a pretty boring experience.

15. Been camping in a tent--just once. It rained and it was a terrible experience.

16. Had several spots of possible melanoma removed from my body. All were benign, but I still have yearly visits to the dermatologist to be checked.

17. Been stung by a jellyfish.

18. Had stitches for an injury.

19. Chipped one of my front teeth on a bottle. It was Snapple, I swear!

20. Passed my driver's license exam on the first try.

21. Been in a car accident that was my fault.

22. Passed out due to severe dehydration.

23. Called 911 to report a crime.

24.  Owned a porcelain doll that was also named Emily. Creepy, right? And no, I do not own it any longer.

25. Felt and seen the presence of a ghost. While babysitting in a creepy old house, which has since been torn down. In the home owner's defense, they did warn me about it before I agreed to babysit.

26. Danced on top of a bar to Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me"

27. Been the victim of a home invasion. Read about it here.

28. Spent Christmas in Hawaii and Thanksgiving in Florida.

29. Seen Bob Seger in concert--twice. The first time was my first concert.

30. Flown in First Class. It's overrated.

31. Want to know 30 things I've never done? They are here.

Monday, July 23, 2012

30 things I've never done

Never have I ever...

1. Run a full marathon. I'm running my first marathon in October.

2. Been skydiving or bungee jumping. I am terrified of heights, so it's never appealed to me.

3. Lived in another state. It's been all Ohio, all the time.

4. Traveled to Europe. I have left the country though: I've been to Mexico, Canada, the Bahamas, St. Thomas, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica.

5. Consumed chicken wings or brussels sprouts. Both seem disgusting. However, I love sushi and raw oysters.

6. Given birth to a child/been pregnant. Obviously.

7. Done illegal drugs of any kind. Seriously.

8. Watched any of The Godfather movies. I love Good Fellas and Scarface, though.

9. Attended an NBA game.

10. Been on a motorcycle.

11. Broken a bone. Which is a minor miracle, considering my lack of grace and coordination.

12. Successfully completed an entire crossword puzzle.

13. Been a redhead. I have been just about every shade of blond and brunette, however.

14. Traveled to any state located on the west coast of the United States.

15. Been in a hot air balloon.

16. Been in a helicopter.

17. Owned an SUV.

18. Owned a recreational vehicle (jet ski, boat, RV, etc.)

19. Been in a physical altercation with someone.

20. Given a eulogy.

21. Played a true game of hockey--on ice, with pads.

22. Created/possessed a MySpace account.

23. Been fired from a job.

24. Sued someone or been sued myself.

25. Served on jury duty. I was called to serve twice but was excused because I was a college student.

26. Received a speeding ticket. (I sincerely hope this doesn't cause me to jinx myself.)

27. Been arrested. I was once handcuffed by a police officer as a college student, but was let go.

28. Performed in front of a large crowd.

29. Fired a gun.

30. Had a job that required me to wear a uniform.

31. Want to know 30 things I have done? I'll tell you tomorrow.

Friday, July 20, 2012


July 21, 2007.

Tomorrow is our five year anniversary. Most people place a huge sense of importance upon the milestone anniversaries; typically those that occur in increments of five and ten. I won't tell you that this day isn't important, but I will say this: it's no more important than all the others. I believe it's more productive to focus on what you've done with your time, rather than celebrating how long you have endured something. Anyone can stick something out for years---but it doesn't necessarily make it a success.

I love that this day is an opportunity to look back on a really wonderful moment in time. A day of happiness and beginnings--it's our day. But every other day needs to be our day, too. I think it's very easy to forget about your marriage or relationship and the work involved in making it successful. The longer you are married the easier it is to forget about the work.

The flip side of being married for five years and not having children is the opportunity to focus solely on our relationship. We have no distractions, no other people in our family that are pulling us in other directions. It's a strange thing--because it's one part not our choice and one part completely of our own making. I'm not saying people with children can't have a great marriage, it's just...different. I often hear people say that they love their significant other more once they have children together. I don't know what that feels like, but I do know the greatest bond that exists in our relationship will always be the one that was forged over the fires of our inability to have children.

Things have turned out differently than we planned in 2007, but that's just life. Life was a hell of a lot simpler back then. But five years ago, I wanted the same thing I want today: to be happy. Perhaps my life isn't exactly what I imagined five years ago, but it's mine. It's ours. I wouldn't trade it for an easier one. I wouldn't go back and rewrite anything. I'd ask for the same hand to be dealt to us. Honestly, is life fair for anyone?

We are traditional people, but I love that our life has taken a very nontraditional turn. We have worked to embrace it. We never stop making the most of it. I think life is entirely too short to follow every last one of the rules laid out for you when you were a child. Happiness is what you make of it, and sometimes you have to find that part of yourself by going through something terrible. And sometimes you survive it by making your own rules as you go.

We didn't place a timeline on children when we recently decided we weren't ready to adopt a child. Sometimes, I think it may never happen--other times, I wonder if I will look back and regret that decision. I don't feel strongly either way; I'm really happy just existing in this place right now, exactly as it is.

It's difficult to predict how I will feel about being childless in 15 years, mostly because there was no possible way I could have predicted I'd ever be in this predicament in the first place. But from where I stand today, it's really not all that horrible to live without this one thing we have been denied. It is what it is.

Maybe God made us this way for a reason, I tell myself when things are quiet and my mind drifts into a place I like to call What If Territory. Ever been there? Sure, it seems like a nice place to visit. But you don't want to live there, trust me. I can't help but think: didn't the universe know something nine years ago when two people were brought together who couldn't possibly have children even if they lived together in the Twilight Zone? Don't they say God has a great sense of humor?

The bottom line is that we've spent the last 5 years fighting every last battle together--and I sincerely believe that's what marriage is about. It's hard work, and anyone who tells you it's not is lying to you. Or, in denial. It's worthwhile work, but it is work. Like everything else, anything worth having always involves hard work.

These have been both the most difficult and most wonderful 5 years of my life. I believe those things go hand in hand: the good with the bad. It makes you more appreciative. More humble. Just a bit more patient. And honestly, it makes for a pretty amazing life.

The one thing I know for sure is this: things really do get better with time.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The skin shoes

I take an inordinate amount of time to get ready. In the morning, in the evening--really whenever I'm getting ready for anything, it's going to take a while. So, you might as well grab a drink and relax. We are going to be 30 minutes late for everything, mmkay?

My beauty routine runs like a finely tuned machine, so most of the time it's the outfit selection part of getting ready that creates the problem. I just cannot make up my mind. Also, everything I put on makes me look stupid/fat/weird/some other judgemental adjective.

So, I like to gather a second opinion to ensure I am making the right choice. There is only one other person at my house who is capable of expressing opinions using their words, so my husband is the clear winner of this particular job. But really? He doesn't have an opinion. He says everything looks great, but not because everything I wear looks great. It's because he wanted to leave 15 minutes ago.

This morning, I was stuck on selecting the right shoe for my outfit. I trounced out of my closet, wearing two different shoes and asked which shoe I should wear. He looked down and quickly said:

"The skin shoes."

Skin shoes? Oh. He meant these, my snakeskin shoes.

Which, technically, could be skin shoes. Except no one wants to buy shoes that are simply called 'skin shoes.' This is why marketing is so important.

Also? The veins in my feet are pretty gross. And? I just noticed the carpet almost matches my shoes. Skin carpet, anyone?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Old dogs & new tricks

My super thoughtful husband gave me a nice piece of jewelry pet containment system for Christmas. Well, for the dogs. But also for me. Because I typically spend 30 minutes of every day waiting for our dog Buster to take a dump. Then, I spend a few more minutes of my time making sure he doesn't step in his own poo. Which he actually does sometimes. Then, I pinch myself and think, is this my life? It's just so glamorous, it's hard to believe I get to do this EVERY morning at 5:00 a.m.! Don't wake me up from this dream, you guys!

We have two dogs: Rudi stays in the yard quite willingly; Buster other runs out of it as though his tail is on fire. His tail has never been on fire (that I know of) he's just a beagle mix with a fixation problem. Or, obsessive compulsive disorder. And maybe selective hearing...and a butt sniffing hobby.

But, I digress.

We recently got around to installing this system which is, in all honesty, really quite fabulous. It was easy to install (that's what the person at my house who spent an entire day installing it says, anyway) and it came with those little white flags and everything. The flags are just great, because they let the world know you are trying really hard to keep your damn dog in the yard. Other awesome things: the super cheesy training video that was likely produced in 1992 and the futuristic collar that is at least 12 milllion sizes too large. Probably because Buster's neck is quite scrawny.

But, I digress. I actually did pay attention to the training video, swearsies. I also spent many, many hours of my life working with the above pictured six year-old beagle mix to help him understand the subtle nuances of our pet containment system. Namely, that he was supposed to stay in the f-ing yard and not run across the busy road to pester the herd of cattle on the other side of said road.

It's not going well, to say the least. We went through every last step, as prescribed, and it all came to a head this weekend when he ran through the barrier numerous times. Each time as though it was no big deal or as though he was receiving jolts of electricity "stimulation" from doing so. In fact, he managed to convince me the system wasn't working, because he just stood there as he was getting shocked. Staring at me. If he had thumbs, he would have twiddled them.

So, I did what any seemingly intelligent person might do: I shocked myself to make sure it was working. Twice.

Let me just say this: it was totally working.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Life Lessons: Pleasing Other People

I emerged from the womb a natural born people pleaser. I have always wanted desperately to be liked. I yearned to be accepted. I lived for compliments and verbal reinforcement. Living like this is very exhausting. It depletes your soul. Think about it: just one negative comment has the power to ruin everything for you. Your self-esteem. Your self worth. Even your sense of self. It's like being held prisoner by the words and thoughts of everyone but yourself.

I lived this way for a long, long time. The fact remains that the world is full of people with opinions--people just love to tell you what to do--and they give their opinions based on their own perspective. It's a dangerous game to give power to someone who does not know what it's like to be you. To let them dictate your life or ruin your perfectly wonderful day with their words. It happens all the time--people with good and bad intentions--projecting their own lives onto yours.

It's not easy to break this character trait, to be honest. You cannot simply wake up one morning and realize that you don't give two shits what anyone thinks anymore. It's a process. It's a game changer, too. For me, it really dawned on me that I wasn't being true to myself anymore. I stopped listening to my own voice and making my own choices because they were right, not because the majority of the people I polled agreed it was the right path.

When there is something "wrong" (a term used very loosely) with you or with your life, people really ramp up their projections. We cannot have children, it's that simple. And everyone I know also seems to know someone who was once there, too. Most of them relaxed or visited some really wonderful doctor or just magically became pregnant. People just love to tell me these stories. I sometimes think they believe telling me about some third cousin twice removed who spent eight months trying to conceive then magically showed up to a family reunion pregnant with triplets will inspire me. Or, make me think that having children is possible for me, too.

And, I sincerely believe most people have good intentions. I also believe, however, that most people struggle with their execution when talking to me about infertility---because it's difficult for people to not project their lives onto mine. I don't sugar coat things. I don't hide how I feel or what my life looks like from anyone. If there is a natural opening in the conversation to talk about it, I do. With anyone, really. Like my insurance agent, for example. We talked for thirty minutes on the phone last week about infertility after it came up in conversation.

I don't owe it to anyone to defend our choices or explain my situation. It's none of their business, really. But I talk about it because it makes me feel better and I do it solely for my own gain. Sometimes, it makes people uncomfortable. Other times, it opens the flood gates and causes people to throw 'advice' and stories at my face area at speeds topping 95 MPH. This is where the magic happens, though.

I've always heard that you cannot begin to grow as a person unless you are willing to be uncomfortable. You have to be willing to take chances or put yourself in situations that scare you because it's the only way you can begin to grow. And talking honestly about infertility and children is that place for me: it's scary and unknown, but I want nothing more than to live there. It's because when I'm there, I realize that I truly don't give two shits what anyone thinks. Seriously. Because it's my life and I love it just the way it is right now. And absolutely no one can convince me otherwise.

From what I gather, the inability to reproduce is quite tragic and terrible from the outside looking in. How awful, people say to me with these sad puppy dog eyes that make me want to punch them. I sometimes wish I could pull those people in for just a moment so they can see what I see--because it's pretty beautiful in here. It's pretty complicated, but it's also pretty wonderful. It's just difficult to understand the clarity that comes with such a swift kick to your pre-planned hopes and dreams.

Does it hurt? Sure, it hurts. But not all the time. In fact, most of the time it doesn't hurt one bit. I suppose that's not really the point here, though. The point is this: sometimes it takes something a bit tragic and slightly awful to make you truly understand that there is only one person in this world you need to please: yourself.

"She'd tell me how she'd handle the backhanded compliment by smiling and pretending she was receiving a genuine compliment all the while ignoring their attempt to be insulting. After all, it's the way an insult is received that makes it an insult. You really can't give offense unless someone takes it."  ― Portia de Rossi, Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain


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