Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Right Now...


*Excuse the random photos, I just couldn't resist posting them, although they have nothing to do with anything*

-I'm thinking about how good Budapest Hotel was. I'm not any kind of Wes Anderson fanatic (I know, I know, I'm just not hip {or smart} enough) but I thought Royal Tenenbaums was funny and Life Acquatic was all right, and I really REALLY wanted to go to a movie and this was the ONLY thing playing that looked remotely interesting, so there you go.

It. Was. Fantastic. SO GOOD.  It wasn't too weird (in fact, it was barely weird at all...) and it was sweet and charming and SO HILARIOUS and just sweet and feel-good. I left the theater happy and relaxed and just glad that I went. It was just a good movie. You know? Five stars.  I imagine that in December, when I do my 'best of 2014' this movie will be on the list. It was THAT good.

-I'm feeling more than overwhelmed at this photography class I'm taking online. I knew going in that it would go over my head, it's a class for actual, I dunno, PHOTOGRAPHERS? But I sort of thought I could skate through and just take from it what I needed.
Wel first of all, it's hella expensive, so I don't want to take what I can get, I want it all. I want my money's worth!! But I've only read the fifteen page PRE ASSIGNMENT so far, and it's obvious that I am in WAAAY over my head. I mean, that's some of my best work up there. Not QUITE what I'm looking for!!!

I don't have a second of all.

-I'm reading so much. Like, seriously, SO MUCH. Right now, I'm reading The Likeness, which is the sequel to In the Woods, which I didn't love, but obviously spoke to me enough that I literally raced to the library to grab Likeness.   Who knows where this crime drama kick started (duh, Cuckoo's Calling) but I'm loving it. It's always nice to try new things.

I couldn't keep a straight face. Trying new things is the WORST. But I'm glad this time it worked out.
Also, I am apparently addicted and slightly abusive to my library privileges. I keep stacking up the books. I had to bring Goldfinch back before I got anywhere near cracking it open because someone else requested it (what?!?!) but that's okay because my stack is pretty tall and I doubt they'll let me keep renewing things indefinitely.  I've got Eleanor&Park, Shovel Ready, Year of the Lady Bird, and Reapers are the Angels (don't ask.)

Why? Why do I have so many books checked out at the same time!?!? It's because, like EVERY OTHER FUCKING ASPECT OF MY WEIRD LIFE, I'm scared that they'll run out. That I'll check out two books like a normal person, then the next time I go in, they won't have a SINGLE THING for me to read.

Why am I crazy?!?!? Your guess is as good as mine.

Probably better.

-I'm watching more tv than ever. I know, I know!! Trust me, I know.  It's like someone challenged me to watch more tv than anyone else in the history of ever has ever watched before, and I couldn't help but accept. After my whirlwind of watching all nine hour and a half long episodes of Sherlock, Nick and I dove in to True Detective, which aired over here a good month or so after America, and either way, I let a bunch of them stack up before I even started. That's my thang.



It's a little darker than I prefer (which is so weird to me, I would have thought I was like into the darkest stuff ever, but this is DARK) but we've only seen the first three episodes, and the third was definitely the best, far and away, so I'm hopeful that four through eight will knock my socks off.  It's hard to watch Woody Harrelson be such a dick, and he's not such a good actor that I don't look at him and think 'wow, I can't believe that's the same man and in Zombieland' but instead I look at him and say 'goodness, woody harrelson is playing such a dick.'

Does that make sense?

I'm also digging the Blacklist. Doesn't bother me at all that Red is sort of sometimes a dick, and James Spader is AMAZING. I think that's the difference, James Spader has turned himself into Red (you know, like an actor is SUPPOSED to?) while Woody Harrelson (to me, I don't want to step on any toes for those of you who love him) is just being Woody Harrelson pretending to be a dick.
And of course, we are on the edges of our seats with How I Met Your Mother. I can't even link to it because I can't risk going on imdb and seeing anything. I've stacked up the last three episodes to binge watch this weekend before the finale, which for us will be next Tuesday night. Except crap, it'll have to wait until Wednesday because we'll have to watch the Walking Dead finale on Tuesday. Hmmm. Tough call.  Maybe we could stay up a tiny bit past our nine thirty bedtime and watch Walking Dead in real time Monday night? Without being able to zip through commercials?!?!

Life is full of hard decisions, folks. You heard it here first. Side note: I'm obviously way behind America in most of my shows, so PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't spoil anything for me?!?!

-I'm bursting with excitement at the plans we're making for what will now and forevermore be referred to as The Great European Driving Adventure of Two Thousand and Fourteen.

I like a catchy catchphrase.

The thing about having three different kids in three different year round schools is that their schedules are always very similar, but they don't sync up exactly. So for their 'summer' break, there's only four weeks where they are ALL off, and it's in August. My mama is a teacher in MS, so she goes back in August, so her options were to either visit while the kids are in school (England fines parents a pretty steep fee if they pull their kids out of school for vacations and the like) or join us on our drive, so she and my dad are coming with!!!

We're leaving the very last week of July and headed to Berlin, Salzberg, Venice, somewhere in the Swiss Alps, maybe one other place (??) and then Frankfurt. I may have made some of that up, but I think I'm pretty solid for the most part. My parents will be with us in Austria and Venice and then for maybe a day or two in the Swiss Alps.

Nick has booked almost all the houses we'll be renting during The Great European Driving Adventure of Two Thousand and Fourteen and I'm so excited I sometimes have trouble sleeping. (Haha, not really. I'm dead to the world after I turn out the lights. Reading and watching TV all day can really get quite exhausting.) So far we've (Nick has) figured out Austria, Venice, and the one in Switzerland.  I never dreamed HomeAway would let me down, but apparently you can't rent a cottage in Switzerland unless you're staying like two weeks, and we only need a few nights, so we're giving Airbnb a try. I don't like different, and I really don't like that I don't know what the 'bnb' means, but what can I do, right?  Fingers crossed!!

As soon as we get back from Amsterdam in April, I'm going to start booking every Sound of Music tour I can find. I cannot WAIT to get to Austria!!! My life is just so rad.

Wanna see other random bullet format updates of my random life? You know you do!! Try this one, or even this one, or how about maybe this one?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Spring (??) Day in Oxford


Can it be? Is is spring? I'm whispering. I don't dare say it any louder because what if I jinx it and the sun goes away and doesn't come back out until September?

I would DIE. I'm not being dramatic, I would actually cease to be alive anymore.

And this winter hasn't even been bad here. HERE. I know it's been awful everywhere else, but it's been pretty mild here. I'm just ready for more sun.

We finally had a Saturday with no birthday parties, so we wanted to take a day trip. At first we were going to go all the way up to the Cotswolds, but someone told me it might be a little boring, and that maybe Oxford might be a little more fun.

I will be honest and admit that my entire scope of knowledge concerning Oxford consists of one fun fact: Agent Fox Mulder attended Oxford and majored in psychology.

That's it.

Thank God for google.

It's only about an hour away from us, so we checked the forcast (sun, sun, and MORE SUN), packed snacks (because Engelbrechts have to eat every seventeen minutes) and hit the road, Jack. First stop, The Eagle and Child, the pub where CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien used to hang out and write and be geeks and create entire worlds and change literature forever. No big deal.


I totally FanGirl'd out. No shame. Everyone else there was doing it too, the pub was FULL of booknerds.  CS Lewis created Narnia here ya'll. RIGHT HERE.


If I'm honest, I love and admire Tolkien for what he accomplished, but I tried to read Lord of the Rings in college and couldn't get through it. I read The Hobbit in high school and I remembering enjoying it well enough, but I don't remember much else about it.

But Narnia? FORGET IT. I remember reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in third grade and being AMAZED. What?!?! You can write a story and just make up an entire WORLD?!?! NO WAY!! And then I read Magician's Nephew and WOAH. It's still my favorite of all seven. I just love it. And I gotta admit, when I found out we were moving to England, I sort of assumed we'd live in a row house like theirs, and maybe I could crawl through the attic into the next one? You never know!!
So thank you, CS Lewis, for all you did for writing and reading and my imagination.

After that, we just wandered around looking at the gorgeous buildings and sunshine.



We made it to Mulder's alma mater, Christ Church College, but I had to run though by my lonesome because the kids were being asshats and Nick kept them out in the 'meadow.' So basically, best tour ever.

What if this was your 'quad' at college? How would you ever get anything accomplished?

The cathedral. Cathedral? Church? Unsure. Gorgeous, either way.

It was "Parent's Day" or some such nonsense (I still can't believe this is an actual SCHOOL, with actual STUDENTS) so the Harry Potter hall was closed (!!!!!) but I did get the briefest glimpse of the staircase. I was appropriately impressed, but I'm happy to report that I didn't cry.



Here's a screen shot from the movie. If I'd had that badass wide angle lens, I coulda got it better. That lens has ruined me for all other lenses for the rest of my life.




Meanwhile, back at the meadow, we were picking up extra children. Kids ALWAYS try to join our ranks, it's so weird!! I don't know if it's because my kids are so wild and always look like they're having fun, or if it's because Nick is so great and awesome, or what, but seriously, other kids are always trying to join the Team.





We ended the day at Oxford Castle, which we didn't go into (see the asshat reference above) but it didn't look very impressive from outside. We're big fans of Warwick, so we're spoiled. We did climb this giant hill right outside it though, and that was pretty neat.





Pretty neat for a quickie day trip. I don't know that we'd go back, but I certainly don't regret going. If it's sunny again next weekend (pleasepleasepleasepleasepleasePLEASE) I want to just go to Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park and get some pictures. Our photo session on the beach last December was so amazing (and expensive) that we probably won't be doing another one any time soon, so homemade snap shots are going to have to suffice. Then again, homemade snapshots in a London park might not be that bad... ;)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Throwback (and THRIVE) Thursday


Look at those babies!!! This is August 2011, I'd been on my own with four kids for five months at this point. My baby was SEVEN MONTHS OLD. My other baby was FIVE YEARS OLD. Plus the two boys were alive out there. Somewhere. But man, Ava just slays me. How fricking adorable is she?!?! Daisy June...well at least she's gorgeous NOW, knowwhati'msayin, nudge nudge.

So that's the #tbt one. Oh man, that makes me think of the second Jimmy Fallon hashtag thing, I better link it. It's so funny. He gets me. I think this one is funnier than the JT one, but that's just me.



Aaaannnndddd....as long as I'm linking Jimmy Fallon, have you seen this?! He just looks like he's always having such a great time. My heart still belongs to Conan (You loved our movie Conan!!) but I bet if we got the Tonight Show here, Jimmy would be giving him a run for his money.



Aaaaaannnndddd, we can't talk about photobombing without this, can we?


Yes, my obsession with all things Sherlock has commenced. Please don't ask Angela or Holly how many times I've texted them about this over the last few weeks. (This being Cumberbatch, or as I like to refer to him, BBC Sherlock. Because I also still have a soft spot for CBS Sherlock. I'm torn. Please don't ask.)

So to feed the obsession, let's look at funny photobomb memes, shall we? This post is going nowhere awfully fast.  There are LITERALLY thousands, but my fave is BBC Sherlock Crashes the Red Wedding. (Side note: GAME OF THRONES ON SKY ATLANTIC APRIL 7!!! Less than 24 hours after America!!!)


And then this. I didn't watch the Red Carpet, so I actually missed this for real, but I bet it wasn't as awesome without John Williams' epic soundtrack, am I right or am I right.

Well this post really got away from me. As far as my THRIVE project goes, it's pretty hard NOT to be thriving when it's consistently 16-17C every afternoon, with sunshine until well past five thirty, so I can't really complain. I've been reading the big kids The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe almost every night, and I do drop everything and read to Daisy June on demand, so that's two goals easily squared away. I haven't been purging this giant house full of shit like I've been wanting to...but I've thought about it? Does that count? I wasn't very relaxed on our last holiday, but whatever because I got amazing pictures. And I've been pretty steady on my creativity. So I'm calling it a win.

Although, full disclosure, I spilled a glass of water today and burst into tears. And that doesn't feel very THRIVE. But other than that, winning.

And since I've gone off the rails with this post already ANYWAY, let's end with one more shot of BBC Sherlock.


Oh fine, twist my arm for another one.

You're welcome. Engelbrecht out.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Random Photos Plus "Elsewhere..."

First, for the Elsewhere, I've written (okay, cut and pasted) a book review for Military Spouse Book Review!! Always fun to be somewhere else. It's my review of The Bone Season, which I'm sure you've read here, since you read and cherish every single word I ever write, but it's worth checking out her site, obviously.

And here's eight random pictures that have been clogging up my 'system' in my computer. And ya'll, for my birthday, "Nick" treated me to that CM class I wanted!!! It starts at the end of the month and I'm pretty sure that after I take it, my photos will probably knock your socks off.  That's usually how it works, isn't it?  Har har.


Here are the kids attacking Nick after we got back from Prague and he finally checked our American mailbox and we got PACKAGES!!! I hope they never get less excited about packages.


Daisy's new dog. Which she named Puppy. She's quite creative.



Um, we've been here for over a year, and we're just now checking out the museums in London. What can I say, we're just not museum people...

But this one was MEGA RAD.


Hello, GORGEOUS. It's the Natural History Museum and it's just stunning. The bricks I mean. The exhibits were all right, we mainly only did the dinosaurs (because my kids are awful) but they had an interactive kids discovery thing in the basement, and hey, all London museums are free!!! So it wasn't a big deal when we had to bail because Warren wouldn't stop crying.



Real camera shot of my beloved quilt.


Daisy June turned three.




And Warren turned five. We aren't 'birthday party' people. OBVIOUSLY. When we lived on Guam and Hawaii, we had pretty big grill out parties and a birthday cake, so we could pass it off as a kid's party, but really, it was an adult party that kids got to come to.  Not so much here, so we just get them a few gifts and a cake and call it good.


Okay, twist my arm, here's some shots from instagram. I just love instagram.


First, the (school) night I took my eight year old into one of the biggest cities in the world to see a Taylor Swift concert...
Yes, I was more excited than she was, until we got there. I don't think she realized exactly what we were doing. Yes, she fell asleep. Yes, our seats were so high that when I bought them, they actually came with a disclaimer that they weren't suitable for people who are scared of heights. Which I obviously am. But it was all that was left (she played to sold out crowds, five nights in a row!) and it was EPIC.



Then there was the afternoon I chaperoned her second grade, second term field trip.  To DOWNTON ABBEY.


Then there's just a bunch of random shots. Let's see, below we've got Scott helping his stuffed animals go bungee jumping over the bannister, Daisy taking swim lessons on the living room floor, my boys being dorks on the computers, my wack family 'helping' me cook dinner, laying around being lazy, and my plants, moved into the rare sunshine.





Next, we've got Daisy's hair, now that she's (FINALLY!!!!) stopped pulling it out, Warren (and mama...) not paying attention at church, Warren with his Rubbish Robert...

And lastly, my latest obsession and reason for my absence from all things Real Life lately...Call the Midwife. It. Is. So. Good. Better than Downton. Well, better than this last lame season of Downton at least. PLEASE NO SPOILERS. I know something dramatic happened at the end of season three because NO ONE WILL SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT IT, but I'm only just now finishing season two. Figure if I put my mind to it, I can power thru season three by the weekend. And I'm nothing if not diligent about binge watching good tv.

So there you go. What have ya'll been up to lately?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

“Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it, sauté it, whatever. MAKE." - Joss Wedon




I don't, by any means, consider myself an 'artist' (obviously) or even a 'creator' in the way that we're getting used to using that word. At all. But I can't deny the rush I get from 'creating' things, no matter how imperfect they turn out.

Overly ambitious as always, when I started my One Little Word project for 2014, one of my goals is to make twelve separate creations.

Why? That's too many!!!

And create everyday?!?! THAT'S TOO MUCH PRESSURE!!!

I guess (hope?) that part of setting goals is realizing that you've made a mistake and modify things? I don't know quite how to change it, because (for me, personally) my goals have to be measurable. So I can't handle creating every SINGLE day (really Jenn, all caps?) so what do I do? Three times a week? That seems arbitrary and barely measurable.  Once a week? That doesn't seem like enough.

Sigh.

Anyway.

I used to just stick with writing. Writing things that I never EVER showed to anyone ever. And I still do love to write, and I still do love to not show anyone.  I'm a creature of habit, FOR SURE.

After I had Warren, Grandpa Kenny got me a 'fancy' camera, and I quickly fell in love with taking pictures. I tried to figure it out, and get better, and I think I did, although obviously I'd like to be a LOT better. I spend a LOT of time on pinterest looking at these hazy, tack sharp, slightly off center photographs, and oh how I LONG to replicate them.

This picture is always in my head when I pick up my camera, found via AEB's pinterest.




And I know it's so not kosher, but I have to share this one too, and I can't find the original, so I'm just posting back to AEB and crossing my fingers :(

How do they do this? Does anyone know? Please, by all means, point me in the right direction!!!


But this is supposed to be about my creative attempts, not all the things (and there are SO MANY THINGS) that inspire me.

So after I finally got some help with The Crazies in Hawaii, on a whim I asked for a sewing machine for our tenth anniversary present. I only used it to embroider for about six months, but after we got to England, it hit me- I wanted to make a quilt. And the only way I could figure to do it was to just do it. Nothing left to do but the doing, right? So I read some tutorials (namely this one and this one) asked Nick to help me with some math (math is so hard) and ordered a few hundred dollars worth of supplies for a king sized quilt.

Go big or go home, right?


It took me nine months. Because I got so fucking sick of looking at that fabric. What was I thinking picking those colors?!?! If you're about to order some fabric (and let's not lie, quilting is a pretty expensive hobby) please for the LOVE OF GOD order a decent amount of solids to mix in with your patterns. Ugh.

The day I made the binding, I cried. I was so close, I could taste it!!!



Then I took another few weeks off.

But then I finished it and it was totally worth it.


(Fabric for this monster was Riley Blake Willow, here. Wish I'd known you can buy already cut squares when I started.)

In the midst of making The Monster (that's what I call that enormous hunk of too-much-patterns) I also tossed together a small quilt for Christmas.  One of my faves, mainly because it was the first quilt I made from start to finish.



(Fabric for Christmas quilt: Riley Blake Merry Little Christmas, here. I used the 'taupe' options.)

After I showed off my Christmas quilt, my sweet baby sister asked me to make her one. I WAS BEYOND EXCITED. I couldn't believe it!! Someone wanted me to create something!!! FOR HER!! No one had EVER asked me to make something before. I think I cried. Needless to say, I was honored.  So I jumped right on it.




SO. MUCH. FUN. And she picked the most GORGEOUS fabrics. I have half a mind to reorder all that same fabric and make one for myself.

Shortly after this, my best friend asked me to make her one too ;) And she coincidently chose the same fabrics, just in a different color. Weird, right?

(Side note, I bought both sets of the aviary 2 fabric as pre cut jelly rolls from this etsy shop.)

Angela also asked me to fix her up an insert to turn a regular purse into a camera bag.


I used this tutorial, and Angela sent me the fabric, so I have no idea where it's from.



I have the cutest helper during my 'crafty' time. She likes to put her hand on the fabric as it walks out of the machine, and she REALLY likes to put a finger on the wheel thingie that spins around on the side while you're running the foot pedal.

And she likes to dump out and pick up all the push pins. Probably not the safest activity, but it keeps her quiet and happy, and she hasn't stuck herself yet. Fingers crossed.




Warren was the first of my children to beg me for a blanket, so I made him one out of some scraps. It's REALLY ugly (hence the BW) and he doesn't even like it, but I figure all practice is good practice, right?




Next in line was my friend Robin, who picked this gorgeous Amy Butler fabric, Soul Blossoms. I used this tutorial and this was THE MOST FUN project I've done so far.




Although I will never EVER sew with white again. Every time I knocked over my tea or ate cheetos, it was a terrifying disaster. Ugh.

And as a final side note, I finished up my 'practice quilt' that I started while I was waiting for my fabric for the Monster to get in.


And that's my story for the day. If you've made it through this entire post, congratulations.  You get a prize.

The prize is bragging rights. You're welcome.