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Archive for July, 2010

We have a lot of DVDs. Joe and I both enjoy supporting the movies and television programs we enjoy by “voting with our dollars” as it were. And to be honest, the siren song of the $5 movie sections at big-box stores constantly tempts us to pick up even some mediocre flicks. Which is all well and good until you see what our collection has looked like for a while now:

Before: Oh the Humanity!

Yes, that is a full-sized bookshelf packed to the gills with DVDs. Some are two deep, others are stacked on top of one another. Not a pretty sight. You can see at the top that I sewed up a little curtain out of bed sheets and used a tension rod to hide the messiness within. But after a while I just couldn’t take it any more, and insisted that we find a new way to organize our disks.

Now, oddly enough, Joe and I are both alphabetization fanatics, so much so that even that disaster up there is organized alphabetically. So we needed to find a solution that would reduce the space our DVDs took up, and also allowed us to maintain our alphabetizing solution. We considered purchasing a binder-style DVD case, like this, but upon further examination, we discovered that very few of them have movable pages, which meant that any future additions to our collection would result in a full-blown reorganization every time. Definitely a no-go. Then we thought that if we subdivided our entire collection by genre, then only the genre would need to be reorganized. With up to 8 DVDs per page, this still would be a daunting task.

Thus, when we found this amazing case, we were totally sold. Because the DVDs would essentially be contained in hanging folders, if we added a new DVD to the collection, it could simply be slipped into its own folder and placed alphabetically within its genre. Plus it was only $30!

But organizing the case was not as easy as just pulling the disks out of their plastic cases and shoving them into folders. No, I am super picky, and wanted to maintain at least a portion of the cover art. So I literally spent an entire day with my trusty paper cutter and stack upon stack of DVDs, removing the paper cover art, and cutting it down to approximately 4.5 x 4.5″ squares so it would fit in the folders. I tried to maintain the titles as best as possible in this undertaking. Two disks and two pieces of cover art fit into each double sided “hanging folder.”

One file folder with cover art and disk

I also picked up some Post-It brand “Durable Hanging File Folder Tabs” to delineate the different genres of movies. Because the top of the case has some extra room to it, the file tabs do not get crinkled when the case is closed.

Genre file tabs. If you're curious, our DVDs are subdivided into the genres of: Action, Comedy, Drama, Family, Horror, Musical, Rom-Com, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, and Teen Flicks. It works for us

I am quite proud of the final result. It certainly tidied things up and cut down on the total “real estate” taken up by our collection. As you can see, we opted not to debox our television shows, or our “fancier” DVDs, like the Special Edition sets of “The Lord of the Rings.” It just made more sense for us to keep those as-is.

After: Oh so much better!

And those few cases on top? Those are the beginning of our Blu-Ray collection (Uh-oh!)

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As I think I may have mentioned a while ago on here, several years ago I traveled and studied in Rome, and I have been feeling the deep urge to return. I absolutely love the city; its history, its people, its vibrancy. I know a lot of people who have traveled to Rome in a whirlwind fashion, spending only a couple of days there, and almost unanimously, they all hate it. I hear the same things: the city is dirty, polluted, loud, covered in graffiti. And this is true. But there is so much to find to love beyond the surface.

Largo Argentina: Republican-era temples and cat sanctuary

So, for entertainment, I sometimes surf the internet, looking at gorgeous Roman hotels, pretending I have the money and time to just drop everything and live back in that wonderful city for a couple of months. Living in Rome for part of the year is definitely a major part of my “what if I suddenly became fabulously rich” fantasy.

The things I love about Rome are incredibly evident in many of the city’s hotel designs. In Rome there is a long history of building new on top of old, layering the modern over the traditional. And in my opinion, hotels that reflect the city’s way of being a contemporary city literally on top of centuries of history, respecting it, yet also often treating it a bit irreverently, are the most fun and interesting.

Traditional and Modern Roman Hotels

Clockwise from top left all images from Five Star Alliance: Rocco Forte Hotel de Russie, St. George Roma, Rome Cavalieri, Babuino 181, Rocco Forte Hotel de Russie, and Grand Hotel de la Minerve

As you can see, my favorite images are of hotels that utilize ancient art, architecture, and building techniques to connect the otherwise modern hotel rooms with the historical past.

But, of course, I am not fabulously rich, and will most likely not be returning to that wonderfully inspiring city any time in the near future. Thus, I must get my “Italian kicks” elsewhere. I was incredibly excited when I read this recipe for Barley and Bean Soup from Green Kitchen Stories. The recipe just spoke to me as incredibly fresh, veggie-licious and Italian.

Yum, yum, yum!

I made a few substitutions and additions, as per usual. Instead of borlotti beans, I used thoroughly rinsed canned cannellini beans. I found that it also takes a pretty significant amount of lemon juice to finish it nicely. I suggest adding a little bit at a time until it tastes nice and summery. I am also not sure I would add the green beans next time; I adore fresh green beans, but I am not sure the flavor and texture was ideal for this dish. But overall, it was a wonderful success and it is so fun to have a nice, green soup that works for summer!

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So, it looks like another big move is on the horizon for us: just a touch more than a month, and we are moving across the country again. As such, I have been spending a lot of time on various websites researching possible future homes. We’ll probably rent again. I am crossing my fingers for a nice townhouse this time around.

One thing that keeps exciting me as I look at townhouses is the presence of red doors. I cannot really explain it, but the idea of having a red front door absolutely makes me swoon. My personal theory is that a red front door contrasted with a neutral exterior paint color puts focus on the door itself (duh) which in turn makes the viewer think of the door as the portal to the interior, rather than as simply a part of the exterior. Thus, the viewer of the home thinks about the people within, and perhaps their lives, vibrancy, and hospitality. In essence, a red door creates a feeling of welcome-ness. At least that’s what I think. What do you think of red doors? Welcoming or discouraging? Pretty or pretty tacky?

Red Doors

All images from Flickr. Clockwise from top left:

Don’t Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out by Thomas Hawk

The Entrance by Fe Ilya

Enchanted by Sebastián-Dario

vancouver 352 by Rick E Dick

Red Door by ChadOrlikowski

The Red Door by ohskylab

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Doing this recurring feature has really made me look beyond my typical comfort zone when it comes to fashion. Until recently, I had really only followed New York’s fashion week, with most of my reading coming from New York Mag or style.com. But in the quest for new, fresh, interesting material, I have started looking at fashion shows from other locations. Today’s Wear to Where is from Berlin’s Fashion Week.

Berlin’s fashion week is a new one; 2007 marked the inaugural year. In that the festivities are quite new, it seems to allow younger, fresher talent than other fashion weeks, which tend to focus primarily on established brands and designers. Personally, although I love the established fashion houses (as seen by the fact that my previous Wear to Where posts have focused on Dior and Chanel) I find the focus on new designers to be very exciting. I love to see the new ideas, color combinations, and different modes of construction that young designers bring to the table.

So this Wear to Where is based on the designs of a company out of Munich. Allude specializes in designer knitwear, especially cashmere. I think that the specialization of the company in some ways requires innovation in unusual ways, and I think in this collection, it is clear that innovations in color combinations and textures are at the forefront. If nothing, the collection is certainly vibrant!

All Allude collection images are from Mercedes Benz Fashion Week

Look 1

Bedroom image from Decor Pad

Look 3

Living room image from Best Home Gallery

Look 6

Youth bedroom image from Great Interior Design

Look 8

Hotel room image from Momoy.com

Look 10

Conference room image from BeInteriorDecorator

Look 12

Bedroom image from digdigs

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This recipe is especially important to me. It is a recipe that I inherited from my grandmother; she passed away last year, so I cherish this recipe greatly. It is a wonderful recipe for using up those bananas that are very brown and no one wants to eat.

Ready for a blending

As I grew up in a small town, the culmination of summer vacation was our community fair. It was always held the week before school started up again. For most kids in my town, the biggest draw at the fair were the carnival rides. But the fair also offered competitions in a variety of categories, from baking to knitting, quilting, to gift-wrapping. Winners received ribbons and a small cash prize–I think $5 for first, $3 for second, and $1 for third. So really, the whole thing was mostly for fun and bragging rights. My mom encouraged me to enter almost every year, and some years did so herself. Anyway, this banana bread recipe won me a first-place ribbon one year, so be assured, a non-biased group of judges thought it was exceptionally tasty!

Banana bread fresh out of the oven

Grandma Irene’s Banana Bread

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2-3 large ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. sour cream
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • Optional: 1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, soda, and salt; stir. In a blender, puree the bananas. Stop the blender and add remaining ingredients, except the nuts, if using. Blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Pour contents of blender over dry ingredients in the bowl, stir together. Add nuts if desired and stir to combine. Pour batter into a Pam-sprayed 9x5x3″ loaf pan. Bake at 350° for 50 – 55 minutes or until a bamboo skewer poked into center comes out clean.

Prepared to be baked

As I live at a high altitude, I had to make a few changes to the recipe, and it came out a little flatter than usual.

Slicing the bread

Also, it should be noted that it is okay if the bread looks just on the cusp of burning. This bread requires an almost crispy outside to have a fully-cooked, but exceptionally moist center.
In my opinion, the best way to eat this banana bread is to let it cool completely, the slice it. Put a slice on a small plate, place in microwave for around 10 seconds or until hot. Put a little butter on it (as if there wasn’t already enough butter in this bread) and enjoy!

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So, as you have probably noted, this blog has sat dormant for almost a month. And really? I don’t have much of an excuse.
I originally wrote a huge whining mess here about the uncertainty of the future, but I just could not justify posting it. Short version is that I don’t know where we will be moving, nor do I know when we will be moving. I have been waiting to know since March, and things are still up in the air. This stresses me out so much, as I like to plan, and I like certainty.
So, needless to say, I have not been in much of a blogging mood lately, but I hope that I can motivate myself to get back into it soon, and be able to maintain it more consistently.

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