My New Obsession

September 23, 2009

I’m going through a phase. I’m sort of obsessed with my wardrobe. This is a little inconvenient as I am unemployed and short of funds. Nevertheless…

This started with vacation and watching “What Not to Wear.” This led to the discovery of a new favorite show “Making Over America with Trinny and Susannah,” also on TLC. I LOVE this show. I don’t like WNTW because I think Stacy and the guy who’s name I can’t remember seem to really like making fun of the participants and their lack of fashion sense. This bugs me. But “Making Over America” isn’t like that. The hosts, Trinny and Susannah, can be harsh but they tell you face to face. They also are incredibly supportive and feel like their goal is to make you feel good about your body and then help you look fashionable. Plus, they are hysterical. They have no boundaries.

The first episode I saw was in Annapolis, which is almost like home to me. Part of the makeover process includes the participate getting their hair done and they went to a salon I knew. Actually, it’s the salon that my old hairstylist, Luc, started. I love Luc. He is/was the best! I discovered him by accident but he did my hair for about 6 years. I followed him to his new salon, Hudson & Fouquet, which was a great salon. It was just a bit of a hike from my house. Anyway, Bill and I were so excited that Luc’s salon was featured on the show.

I have not had a good stylist since Luc. Until now. I got my hair permed in the beginning of the summer after a moment of temporary insanity. Two months later, I had about 4 inches chopped off to make it chin length. And while it was an improvement, I still wasn’t loving it. So I decided to go short. I found a hairstyle on a knitting pattern of all places. I used yelp to find a new salon, asked for a person who could do a short cut, and found my new stylist, Katie. I like it because it looks longish (chin length), but actually it is pretty short in the back. It’s fun, is stylish, and I am finally happy.

I also splurged on some new makeup from Bobbi Brown. I’m a little bit of a makeup snob. I don’t like to do the drugstore thing, mainly because nothing I buy there looks good on me. I might spend a little more, but at least I know the colors will work for me and I get tips on how to put it on. I didn’t do anything super drastic, but when I do my hair in the morning and I put on my makeup, I feel pretty darn good. So I’m doing this a bit more often. I had gotten into the habit of not really putting myself together every day. Bill really doesn’t care and the mailman hasn’t complained. Now I do it for myself. Not every day (don’t talk crazy talk) but more days than not.

And this leads to my wardrobe. I went through my closet and pulled out all the stuff I haven’t worn, doesn’t fit, I don’t like etc. It helped me figure out what I really need and I bought myself a few new things. I’m also making myself a few new things. I’m having fun, trying to add some color into my wardrobe. I found some great satin on sale at Joann and my mom bought me some silk fabric in NYC and some cotton fabric at a store that was going out of business.

The whole process has been a lot of fun. Now I still have a long wishlist for once I am employed. And I need some accessories, but thankfully I know how to make jewelry and knit!

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Vacation, The Dorky

September 14, 2009

Bill commented that he was taking a lot more photos of Claudia and I goofing off on this trip, and I think he was right. I think that the three of us were a lot sillier. Not sure why, not sure it matters.

One of the ways we goofed off was with my flip video camera. Last year, I had so much fun shooting little videos with our kodak camera, except that I had a great propensity to crash the camera. For Christmas, Bill bought me a flip recorder and I love it.

I made videos on all of our hikes which start “Hi, this is Margaret Napier, amateur hiker.” Or sometimes it was novice hiker. Or amateur novice hiker. I couldn’t really decide on a title.

There’s a video of me:
Almost at the top of North Dome
After finishing the North Dome hike
Almost at the top of Lembert Dome
After hiking to the top of Lembert Dome
Before hiking to Taft Point
At Taft Point

Check them out in HD, if you can. And the ones where Bill held the camera turned out better than the ones where I held the camera. I didn’t post the one where I was basically shooting my right eye because I had accidentally hit the zoom.

They are short; the longest is 52 seconds. I admit that I am a total dork. I also wish I could tell you that I was trying to be very dramatic, but it just happened. We laughed so hard after watching them. I think my “favorite” line is when I breathily say “the last bit was as hard as I thought it would be.”

There’s also a video of one of the fire fighting helicopters filling up its water tank. This one is a about 2 minutes, 20 seconds.

We had tons of fun on our trip. I’m proud of all the hiking I did. And a little less proud of my videos, but it was all about having a good time.

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Vacation, The Weird

September 2, 2009

We had a great vacation, but it was a really strange week. Looking back, it started on Saturday, August 15th when Claudia lost her wallet. Nothing like losing your credit and debit cards 4 days before leaving on vacation. Her bank told her she would get her cards the next day, so she was expecting them on Tuesday, at the latest. But they actually didn’t arrive until Thursday, after she was already in California.

The weirdness continued on Friday. When we got home from our Joann shopping spree and fun afternoon at Google, we found that my new hiking backpack, ordered from Amazon, had been stolen from my front porch. Someone opened up the box, left the box and packing materials, and took my new Camelback pack with the built in water pouch. As soon as I got in the house, I got on the phone with FedEx and Amazon. While on the phone, I had trouble getting on the internet from the desktop computers in the kitchen so I pulled out my laptop to work and talk in the living room. And then I noticed that the dog was outside and our screen door off the back patio was completely off the track. I finished up my phone call and was a little creeped out. I thought maybe Claudia had trouble with the door and was going to ask me to fix it. But that was not the case. I had left the back door open while we went out, a silly thing that I have done on several occasions. I checked the house for uninvited people and then called Bill. He asked if his laptop was still on the desk in the kitchen. It was not. And that’s when I noticed that my mac mini was pulled out a little and I remembered that I had straightened the PC monitor. Commence the freaking out. I called the police and they said they would send a car out. That was at 4:45. Of course I called my dad next. He made us realize that maybe the dog scared the crap out of the burglars. Our house is sort of L shaped with our bedroom in the top part of the L and the patio door where they entered in the bottom right part of the L. The dog tends to sleep in our bedroom and sometimes you can get to the elbow of the L (also known as the kitchen, where the laptop was) before she hears you. Bill was of the opinion that the burglars would probably not come back to a house where they knew there was a dog. I tried to do a mind meld with CJ to find out what happened, but it didn’t work. I dont’ think she was concentrating enough. It was all “where’s my treat for scaring away burglars” and not enough “let me tell you what happened”. Sabrina was useless, I don’t think she moved from the futon. I take that back, she may have yawned and stretched. We continued to get ready for vacation but I admit that I was pretty nervous that we would come home and find all our stuff gone.

The police arrived around 11:00pm. They were awesome! Very friendly, very thorough. They had little CSI kits and tried to get some fingerprints, took photos, took the info on Bill’s laptop. It was as pleasant an experience as you could expect. We think that after they took my backpack off the porch, they looked in the kitchen window and saw a laptop sitting on the desk, and tried to find a way to get in the house. Like the door I left open in the back. In looking at the positives, there was no damage done to the house because I left the door open. Maybe they would have been deterred by the locked door, maybe they would have broken it. We didn’t lose Bill’s kindle which was sitting on top of his laptop, but in a cute case (that I made) which probably made it unrecognizable. The kindle is likely worth more than his laptop. The other good news is that Amazon offered to ship my backpack to our hotel so that I had it to use on Tuesday. I am super thankful that we did not lose CJ. The fence door didn’t close all they way after the burglars made their escape and it would have been so easy for it to have blown open and for CJ to have run away.

Saturday morning, Bill was at the Home Depot buying extra security bars for our sliding glass doors and installing them before we left. (Sliding glass doors that I am super vigilant about closing and securing now). And I told one of our neighbors so that she would be on the lookout. She also knows everyone on the block so I figured she would be a good person to let others know to be careful.

The weirdness held off until Wednesday when we saw the fire. The three of us love nature and the national parks and it was really sad to see it burning. Maybe it was all the smoke, but for the last two days of our trip we were kinda blahsy. And there was the rock slide that we heard and kinda saw. They do happen, it was just an unusual experience for us.

We made it home on Friday and found that all our belongings were still in the house and the animals were fine. That night, around 11pm, we decided to check Claudia in for her flight. After a few very confusing minutes, we found that she had actually missed her flight which had been booked for that day. She was on the phone with American at 11:30 trying to figure out her options and was able to get on a flight Saturday, which was when she thought she was going home. She has no idea how that mistake was made and we were both kicking ourselves for not catching it. But she did get to stay for another two hours and we didn’t have to rush breakfast, and we even got in another trip to Joann.

So that was vacation, the weird stuff. It was more excitement than we needed, but it wasn’t anything really bad.

Tomorrow we will do Vacation, The Silly.


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Vacation, The Great

September 1, 2009

Vacation was fantastic. Every year, we take a hiking trip with our good friend, Claudia. She is my unofficially adopted Bolivian sister. A few people have thought it a little strange that our single friend would enjoy hanging out with two smug marrieds for over a week, but itâ??s worked out well for us. She and Bill get along, she and I get along, Bill and I usually get along. My biggest anxiety over traveling with her is that she is very fit and healthy, and I am not as much so. It leads me to worrying that I am holding her back on the hiking, but I think thatâ??s just my issue.

Claudia kindly agreed to fly out to California from DC and spend a week at Yosemite. With my being out of work, it was great for us to be able to not have to spend money on airfare. We all saved money on not having to get a rental car and Bill and I agreed to cover all the gas and hiking beverages, snacks, and supplies. It balanced out, I think.

Claudia flew in on Thursday and we hung out. On Friday, we went to the big sale at Joann. Claudia is a great sewist and it was very fun to have a friend to fabric shop with. We saved so much money! Between the two of us, we spend $130 and saved $150 (roughly). The big savings came from patterns. We got 5 patterns for $5, and they normall cost about $15 apiece. They also had thread at 50% off, and a lot of fabrics at 50% off too. We didnâ??t pay full price for anything. We were having so much fun we lost track of time and almost missed out on lunch at Google.

We made lunch just in time, and it was delicious (pizza, brisket and mac and cheese and a banana cream dessert). Bill gave us a tour of the campus. We even took two bikes for a spin to get back to our car.

On Saturday we left for Yosemite. We stayed in Lee Vining for 3 nights, a town on the east side of the park. Sunday was our first day of hiking and it rained. The rain did not stop us though we werenâ??t thrilled about it. We hiked to Devilâ??s Postpile (a national monument) and to Rainbow Falls (which I have dubbed NonRainbow Falls since there wasnâ??t a rainbow in the rain). This area used to be part of Yosemite, but isnâ??t anymore. Devilâ??s Postpile was really cool, especially from the top where they were almost perfect hexagons. I hadnâ??t seen anything like it. The weather did clear up in the afternoon and it ended up being a nice day. We stopped for dinner and then went to see the Tufas (mineral formations in Mono Lake). We saw then at sunset and it was beautiful. I was obsessed with the angry clouds hanging over the mountain. We hiked 6 miles in total.

Monday was our first day in Yosemite. Our plan was to hike North Dome. We hiked about .73 miles trying to find the trailhead and ended up getting in the car and driving to a different spot where we picked up the trail right way. I noticed that we were heading downhill at the beginning of the hike and knew that was going to be extra tough on the way back. It was a beautiful hike, and we had the trail to ourselves for the most part. We got to the point we thought was North Dome and Claudia had taken off her backpack thinking it was time for lunch and then we saw we still had a half mile to go. It actually turned out to be a mile and was downhill. It took us about 40 minutes but was worth it. The view was spectacular. We sat and ate lunch. Took lots and lots of pictures. Rested. And then headed back. It was tough going. The very beginning was uphill and then was downhill for a good part until the final .7 miles which was uphill and very tough. The hike to North Dome was about 10.4 miles total, plus the .73 miles we spent looking for the trail. It was a long day on the legs and we were exhausted. That is the longest hike Iâ??ve ever done.

Tuesday we checked out of our hotel to hike and then drive to the west side of the park where we would be spending our last three days. We did one more hike on the east side, Lembert Dome and Dog Lake. Once again, we thought that we had made it to the top of Lembert Dome only to find we still had another .5 miles, this time uphill. Steeply uphill. More like light rock climbing than hiking. I was determined to make it to the top though. I told Claudia that the last bit was hard for me on so many levels â?? mentally, physically, emotionally. My fear of heights wasnâ??t too bad because it was wide, but I was afraid of falling backwards and rolling off the dome. There was one part that I almost couldnâ??t do, but somehow I found the strength, got a handhold and made it. Claudia offered me her hand but I was afraid of pulling her off her perch and seeing her roll off the dome. Rolling off the dome was a BIG concern for me. But I made it. Billâ??s vertigo kicked in and he stayed back from the final climb. After Lembert Dome, we hiked to Dog Lake. It was beautiful and we found a spot to have lunch and rest. Claudia and I put our feet in the water (brrrrrrâ?¦). It was pretty much all downhill on the way back and a pleasant day in all. This hike was a total of 6.6 miles.

Wednesday we spent our first day in Yosemite Valley. There were definitely more people and it was a little more crowded, but not too bad. We decided to do a strenuous hike of 7.4 miles and an elevation change of 2700 feet. We figured that we wouldnâ??t have a problem after all the other hiking we had done, and that it would be similar to a hike we did at the Grand Canyon. Ha! We definitely started strong, but it was truly a strenuous hike. It took us over 3 hours to get about 2.5 miles and 1900 feet up and I decided that I had gone far enough. I could tell I was getting tired as I made quite a few questionable foot placements and started thinking how easy it would be to break an ankle. I offered to wait for Claudia and Bill to make it to the top and back but they had enough too. We were at the perfect spot for lunch and a little rest and lots of pictures. While we were on our way up, we heard what sounded like thunder, or a low flying jet, and then a minute later saw a huge plume of dust. We figured it was a rock slide and it was as we saw on the news. Our trip downhill was very challenging. It was very rocky and required our full attention. We met up with some people with 1.2 miles left and they told us to be careful of a bear in the trail. We didnâ??t see the bear, which was a good thing though we were a little disappointed. It was an exhausting day, having hiked a total of 5 miles.

On the way out of the park, we saw a little light on El Capitan. It was people climbing El Cap. At night. In the dark. It was crazy. I wonder if it is less forboding at night when you canâ??t see how high up you are. Or how far down it is. A few miles and minutes later, we saw the fire. It was mesmerizing in the dark. The sky was orange and pink, and then we saw the flames. It would have been beautiful if we hadnâ??t known the devastation it was leaving. Last year, at Yellowstone, we saw an area that had been burned 30 years earlier, and it was still very obvious that there had been a forest fire. Even after 30 years.

Thursday we were heading into the park from El Portal when we came across a fire helicopter that was hovering and filling up its water tank. It was cool, but again sad because we knew what it meant. Our highlight of the day was the bear we saw! He was about 100 feet from the road, taking a walk in the woods. He looked young, maybe 1 or 2 years old. Not a cub, but not full sized. Unfortunately we didnâ??t get a good picture, but I have a picture in my head. We went to Wawona in the southern part of the park. We stopped at Glacier Point and had a great view of the valley. It filled up with smoke, but then cleared up 45 minutes later. While hiking, we did see two fighter jets in the sky, probably on maneuvers. Bill wondered if they were checking on the fire while they were out. We also saw other smaller airplanes dropping water and flame retardant on the fire. I think we spent more time watching fire related activities than we did hiking, but it was hard not to watch. We did a hike to Taft Point which triggered my vertigo. My stomach did somersaults the entire time we were up there. There were also these fissures, little cracks that had gotten really big and I couldnâ??t look at them. We did see a chipmunk who showed us his belly. I love the bellies. Before we headed back to the hotel, we stopped in Yosemite Valley to check out the Visitor Center, and we saw two fawns and a momma deer. I love the babies!! We hiked 3 miles in total.

Friday was our last day. We woke up to find ask on the car, and it was pretty smokey. The fire was about 2 miles east of us. We checked out of the hotel and drove into the park, again heading for Wawona. We stopped at a little Market and Gas Station where 9 fire fighting vehicles were stopped. Most of them were coming down from having fought the fire all night. Two were stationed there as backup. That team was from Los Banos and had gotten the call at 10pm, making it to El Portal by 3am. The helicopter was making faster rounds; it filled up 6 times while we were sitting having our bagels for breakfast. They were definitely trying to hit the fire hard. We did a short hike to Bridalveil Fall. It was very pretty and there were lots of people so we didnâ??t stay long. Then we got in the car and drove down to Mariposa Grove to see some Giant Sequoias. To say they were huge is an understatement. It was really amazing. They have bark that is 1 to 2 feet thick. I was a little disappointed that you couldnâ??t get close to them, but apparently they have fragile root systems. I do want them to be around for others to see so I got over my disappointment. And after that we got in the car and headed home. We ended up hiking about 3 miles in total.

So that was vacation, the great. We hiked almost 29 miles in the first 4 days, and then only 6 in the last two. A little unbalanced, but our feet were tired, and the smoke was bothering my asthma. We saw what we wanted to see, and left some things to see for future visits. It was really, really beautiful.

Tomorrow I will cover vacation, the weird.

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About Me

Welcome to my spot on the web where I talk about needlework, crafts, and [many] other random things.

A few tidbits about me: I met my husband in college, flirting over tuba letters in the Penn Band. Our dog, CJ, and our cat, Sabrina, round out our family. I'm a sewist, knitter and needlepointer, and an occasional scrapbooker. I love organizing, reading, making jewelry, and hiking. A Chicago girl at heart, I am an avid follower the Cubs, Bears, and Blackhawks.

You can email me at mlynapier [at] pobox [dot] com. Thank you for stopping by!

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