Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Nightmare in Elmwood

We live in one of the safest neighborhoods I've ever known. Seriously, there is practically no crime in our safe little haven between UC Berkeley and North Oakland (which, let's be honest, isn't so bad itself). But last year, this happened.

And this year, our two giant, awesomely-carved (if I do say so myself) jack-o-lanterns were stolen, right off our front porch in the dead of night. I know I'm a grown adult, and we don't even have kids, but it's still really disappointing. I picked these babies out carefully, from the pumpkin patch an hour away. I spent 2 hours carving them with my husband. And it's no Sweet Dee, but I thought we did a pretty damn good job this year.
For the record, we worked hard on them.
I like Halloween. I'm not crazy about dressing up, and I don't like being legit scared, but I love the pumpkins and decorating our house and watching witchy movies and passing out candy. Plus, Halloween coincides with that change in the air that comes with Fall, and the pumpkin spice everything, and the gourds, and the sweaters, and the excuses to make things like this, and I just love this time of year.

I like to go moderately overboard. I love when neighbors compliment our decorations, and kids point them out to their parents with a mixture of excitement and fear. Someday, I want to be that awesome family that does this together, the neighborhood house that's totally decked out for the holidays. Especially Halloween.

Friggin' sweet decorations, yo!
So when someone comes along with a mean-spirited prank, it just makes me sad. Again, I'm a grown ass adult. I don't have kids. The Pumpkin Thieves did not steal from children. BUT STILL. I feel a little violated (the thieves were up on our porch steps!). I am the disappoints. #endblogrant
RIP, wherever you are...

Monday, October 21, 2013

No Big Deal, Just Biking Around Oakland

Today, I went on a bicycle ride. No big deal, right?

Except for me, it was a huge deal.

Those of you who've been reading for a while may recall that I learned to ride a bike in February of 2010. And while it was a successful lesson, the only other time I've ridden a bike since then was on our little weekend getaway in wine country almost a year ago. So when our friend Jack invited us to come along on a bike tour of Oakland, I said yes with a mixture of enthusiasm and nervousness.

I've been trying to push myself out of my comfort zone lately, and to say yes to adventures (and besides, Jack said it was beginner-friendly), so I figured what the heck? Unfortunately, we had some bike trouble and ended up being a little late to the tour, and it left without us. We tried to catch up but lost the sad. But we were determined to have an adventure, so we carried on anyway.

An approximation of our route. Damn straight.
Turns out you can see a bunch of random stuff when you just bike around a city! I saw parts of Oakland I didn't know existed, despite having driven through them countless times. Gorgeous old buildings, long since abandoned and turned into tent camps...Laney College's lovely campus...and some beautiful new landscaping around the lake.

Oh, and this random sculpture.
About halfway through the ride, I had to switch bikes with our (my new) friend Jeremy, because apparently my front tire was damaged? I hadn't noticed, but apparently that's what was making it more challenging to ride. Once we switched, things were a lot smoother.

What's that we're all looking at? 
It's hard to see, but it's a seal!
In the Lake Merritt tributary!
I think I should call wildlife rescue tomorrow.

We ended up on a lovely bike/walking path down by the waterfront, and went all the way to Jack London Square, where we spent some time at the farmers' market before heading back to the car.

I am seriously patting myself on the back. I know it was just a few hours riding a bike around a mostly-flat city, but I am damn proud. We crossed railroad tracks and rode on bumpy gravel, grass, and potholey streets, and I didn't fall or crash once. And I was mostly not freaked out. I actually had a really great time...and now I'm thinking about getting myself a bike...sore-butt notwithstanding :)

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Today I hosted my semi-regular, ladies-only, we-only-sometimes-end-up-making-things event called Crafternoon (or Crafterdark as the case sometimes is). Admittedly, there was minimal crafting. But there was wine and food and cider and thematic decorating and movie watching. And, well, maybe I should just let the pictures speak for themselves.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies.
As good as they look.
A little more complicated than most recipes (thanks, Irvin)
that I usually make, but oh so very worth it.
Using the buffet for the first time since we
moved in...two years ago.
Better late than never! 
The spread in the living room...
And of course, cider (with bourbon) and wine.
We also decorated the front lawn for Halloween, and in keeping with the theme, watched both Teen Witch and Practical Magic. Although I had high hopes for organizing my craft cabinet and maybe even taking care of some sewing projects (fixing holes in socks counts as crafting, right?), sometimes Crafternoon goes the way of the wine and that's just the way it goes. No complaints here. Those brownies were delicious.
We actually did craft (sorta).
Sonja, showing off our lawn-stake ghosts.

Thanks, Sonja, Dina, Brenda, Dana, Andrea, and Reed (and baby Parker) for coming! Time to start planning A Very Special Holiday Crafternoon...

Friday, October 18, 2013

Extra Space Storage Contest! $1,000 IKEA Grand Prize! What?

You guys. Extra Space Storage has outdone themselves. They’re running an excellent photo contest, with some killer prizes.

All you have to do to enter is submit a storage-related photo...and the best part is, you don’t have to have an amazingly organized space to win! That’s right, there’s a prize for what is essentially “worst storage situation”. Yup. Uh-huh. Time to not be embarrassed anymore, because you could win $200 if you’re willing to fess up and show off your untidy areas.

And of course, for those of you who are amazing organizers...there are prizes for creativity and awesomeness...and if your space is chosen as best in show? $1,000 to IKEA. THE POSSIBILITIES!!!
The contest will be open until November 7th and here are the categories of prizes:
Grand Prize Winner/Best Overall: $1,000 IKEA gift card
Most Likely To Become a Professional Organizer: $200 Amazon gift card
Most Likely To Need a Professional Organizer: $200 Amazon gift card
Most Creative Storage: $200 Amazon gift card

I don’t know about you, but I am most definitely entering this contest! Now I just have to choose a photo...

And I know I haven't written in a while, but I've been trying to disconnect a bit, and well, it's been busy. No apologies. More posts on the way though!

Full disclosure: this post has been sponsored by Extra Space Storage. But I love them. And I'm stoked about this contest. So I'd write it anyway.