Making a Paper Wreath
Dec 6th, 2009 by Jessica

Using the red thread’s tutorial on paper wreaths and Arona Khan’s tutorial on decorative ribbon bows, I was able to successfully create my very own paper wreath!  This is a gift to my mother-in-law, Karen, so if you’re reading this – SURPRISE!  =)

Completed Paper Wreath

Paper Snowflake Wreath

The cardboard base is 8″ in diameter with a 4″ circle in the center.  The leaves are made from double sided wrapping paper with the blue and snowflakes on the inside, and the silver with snowmen on the outside.  The leaves curl very nicely when they are the inside of the wrapping paper, so they are naturally curled.  For the snowmen, I used a rubber band to curl them around some rolled paper overnight so they would flatten out a bit.  They started out severely curled in the wrong direction.

I used a total of 31 blue and 6 accent snowmen leaves in this wreath.  They were cut out using my Cricut Expression and the Accent Essentials cartridge (shift/shadow/Accent41S, 3.0″).  I just ripped off the leaf stems as I was going along.  I cut the wrapping paper into approximately 12×12 pieces and used the Cricut tacky mat to cut them out, 9 per sheet.  For the snowmen, I used the Center Cut feature and a little experimentation to get them cut out centered.

This project was a lot easier than I thought it would be.  It took me longer to create the cardboard base and cut out all the leaves than it did to staple it all together.  I’d say all together it took me 2-2 1/2 hours, which isn’t too bad for my first attempt.

See more pictures of my paper wreath on Flickr.

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Building my first Model Cars
Nov 13th, 2009 by Jessica

My DaD has inspired me to do something I never though I would do in my lifetime. I have actually built two model cars! One of them was a simple snap-together, but the second actually used real paint and glue.

Revell '69 Camaro Z/28 SS
’69 Camaro
Finished Model
2009 Dodge Challenger

My first model: ’69 Camaro Z/28 SS. Sure, it snapped together and only had about 50 pre-painted parts, but it was still an accomplishment for me. I am not very good at following instructions when they are not elaborate. Diagrams confuse me, and I get frustrated if things do not turn out perfectly. When I finished this model, I was quite literally shocked at my own perseverance. Little did I know, this one was the easy one!

My second model: 2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8 Special Edition. 104 parts, each had to be painted separately and glued together. This model required a tremendous amount of patience, which is something that I don’t typically have. It took me a whopping 6 days of committed work to build this model.

I don’t know how my DaD does it! He must have a lot more patience than I do. I think I may be done with modeling – we’ll see!

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Cricut Expression
Oct 6th, 2009 by Jessica

Cricut Thank You Card
Thanks, Kathleen!

At the CKC Scrapbooking Convention last week, I picked up a Cricut Expression on the sales floor.  For those who do not know, a Cricut is a personal die-cut machine.  It allows you to cut out shapes on any type of paper, fabric or vinyl.  The shapes you have are determined by which cartridge is loaded.

The Cricut was quite a deal – just $279.99 and it came with two cartridges.  The retail price on it is $399.99 with one cartridge, and extras go for $40-$90 depending on the cartridge.  I’m just getting started learning how to use it, but have already made a thank-you card for my sister.  She taught me how to use it in the hotel room!

I’ve since also accomplished the impossible – completed handmade Christmas cards for this year!  Thank goodness for the Xyron – a wonderful companion to the Cricut!  It helped get my Merry Christmas die cuts ready for adhering to the cards.

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I scream for Ice Cream!
Aug 26th, 2009 by Jessica

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream


This summer, Andrew and I decided to pick up a Cuisinart 2-quart ice cream machine.  We’ve been experimenting with various recipes, flavors and mix-ins.  My favorite so far is absolutely the fresh Strawberry ice cream, courtesy of Ben and Jerry’s recipe book.  It is sinfully delicious!

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Fender Strat Guitar
Aug 25th, 2009 by Jessica

Fender Squier Affinity Strat HHS Guitar

My Fender Guitar

With wild hopes of escaping the tremendous stress of work and life in general, I picked up a brand new Fender Strat HSS Affinity series electric guitar.  I’ve always wanted to learn how to play, so now maybe I’ll have the chance to do so.

It’s a beautiful guitar in Metallic Blue Rosewood.  It came in a beginner set called the Affinity Series and came with an amp and all the necessary accessories to get started.  Maybe someday I’ll even be able to play a song with it!

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New Cable Modem
Jun 13th, 2009 by Jessica

We’ve been distraught with horrible network speeds at home for quite some time now.  Cox advertises download speeds that are radically higher than the 950k we had been experiencing.  Andrew and I thought maybe it was just Cox Communications and our neighborhood. A few months back, we replaced our main router because it seemed to have bit the dust, but the speeds did not get better.

Walking around Best Buy tonight, we happened across a Linksys cable modem.  Having $10 in Best Buy bucks combined with a 10% off coupon, we thought it was worth a shot.   We came home and installed the new cable modem, then called Cox to register the MAC address for it.

The download speeds immediately shot up to almost 6MB/sec, about 6x what they were before!  We can’t be positive it wasn’t something that Cox did on their end, but it looks like the cable modem did the trick.

Hooray for 6x faster!

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Remodeling the Bathrooms
May 30th, 2009 by Jessica

Early in 2009, Andrew and I decided it was time to remodel our bathrooms.  We had never done a remodeling project, and knew we could never do it ourselves.  We called in a few contractors to try and find someone to do the job for us.

We eventually picked one, and scheduled the work over Spring Break in early March.  We were told that the job would take 5 days.  Yeah.  Right.  That 5 days turned into 3 months, in a giant clusterf*ck of a nightmare remodeling job.  It was finally finished during Finals week in May.

I’m still so angry about the whole thing that I really don’t even want to blog about it.  I felt I had to, so 10 years from now we can look back and remember what a PITA the whole ordeal was.

Without too much detail, the contractor just kept screwing things up left and right.  Then the shower door company didn’t measure right.  Then the grout fell out and subfloor collapsed.  Then the cement was left to harden down the drain and clogged it up.  One thing after another after another – it was a horrible experience.

We are happy with our bathrooms now that they are complete.  But getting there – my goodness – NEVER again.

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An Irish Robbery
May 21st, 2009 by Jessica


Busted Door

Mom and Dad (aka Karen and Jerry) booked a tour of Ireland with Aunt Barbara and Heather’s mother Mrs. Barcon.  They left for Philadelphia and ended up stranded for 36 hours due to missing their connecting flight.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, they were not allowed to access their luggage the entire time.  The trip started out horribly and didn’t get much better after that.

Andrew, Amy and I were charged with watching the house while they were away on vacation.  We had done this many times before, and so didn’t think much of it.  A few days after leaving, Amy went over to check up on the house.  She called us frantically from the front yard, saying the house had been robbed!  She called the police and we booked it over there as fast as we could.

The police were checking the house when we arrived on the scene.  Sure enough, the front door was bashed in.  In some crazy exhibit of fate, we discovered very few things were taken.  Lucky for them, all of their doors still deadbolt lock with a key from the inside, so the burglars were unable to open any of the doors.  Even the patio doors had locks, so they couldn’t go that way either.  The only exit was through their entrance, and nothing would fit through it with them.  No computer, no TV, nothing.  We determined they must have been kids, because they didn’t take anything obvious (GPS, purse, blank checks – all in plain view).

They clearly tried to take a small metal safe, and would have been immensely disappointed had they succeeded.  It only contained old school memorabilia from the kids.  Report cards, awards, art projects…  We are so lucky it wouldn’t fit through the door, because we are sure they would have been pitched in the garbage somewhere.

We had to call Mom and Dad in Ireland and tell them about the house.  It was a nerve-wrecking next few days.  We immediately went out and purchased a metal security door and attached it (in the rain) to the front of their house.  I fixed the wooden door the best I could.  Andrew, Amy and I both stayed there for the next few days until they came back from Ireland.  The police had advised us that likely, the criminals would return to the scene if the house were vacant again.  We didn’t want that to happen.

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Dueling Flowers
May 4th, 2009 by Jessica

Argentine Giant Flowers

Argentine Giant Cactus Flowers

Today, I came home from work about 4:00pm to find that one of our Argentine Giant cactus plants had two blooms about to open.  It’s only bloomed twice before, and each time was a single bloom – so I knew I had to capture it.  It’s now or never!

The Argentine Giant only blooms about once per year and the flowers are only open for a few hours, usually late at night or in the very early morning.  This time, they were fully ready to be photographed at 8:30pm.  Thank goodness I just bought a remote flash transmitter for my Canon, or there is NO WAY I could have captured them.

Argentine Giant

Stamen of an Argentine Giant Flower

You can see this little fella gave me quite the workout trying to photograph; it’s blooming at the high point in the yard beyond the lowest part of our river bed, facing into the yard (of course).  Could it have BEEN any harder to capture these shots?

Argentine Giant

Our Front Yard at Night

The flowers are huge – easily as big as my wide open hand.  They are soft and very beautiful.  The petals are always white with burgandy reverse, and the centers are bright yellow.  They have this strange hand-like stamen reaching out of the center.  I know I’m clueless when it comes to the anatomy of a flower, but I can sure appreciate it.  This flower is gorgeous.

See more of my macro flowers on Flickr.

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To All Sirius XM Customers
Apr 11th, 2009 by Jessica

I decided after four years of XM radio (now called Sirius XM) that I no longer needed the service. I have a new iPod Touch and we primarily use Andrew’s car for commuting, so it wasn’t getting used that much. They jacked up the price to $146 per year, so it seemed like a good time to cancel.

I called Sirius XM to cancel my subscription. First, they tried to talk me out of it. Then, they offered me the year’s subscription at half price, about $77. I said no thanks. Then, they offered me six months for half of that price, or about $38. I said no thanks. Then, they offered me three months of free service just to stay on as a subscriber. I said no thanks. After a final hoorah of attempting to get me to stay on as a customer, they finally allowed me to cancel my account.

I tell you this so when you get your renewal notice, call to try and cancel. They just might offer you the same thing at half price. Good luck!

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