16 01 2011

Today’s victory is to embark on my first ever computer file back-up plan.* I bought an external hard drive (it is so tiny, it’s obviously magic that allows it to hold a kajillion bytes-of-some-unrecognizable-denomination) and am currently in the “Initial Backup” phase, which is likely to take the better part of the rest of my weekend.

*Thanks to my sister Jill for her strong encouragement toward this project!

In addition to being an intelligent grown-up decision (baby steps!), this backup device will also help to ease my anxiety regarding my laptop and the current economic state in which people are brazenly and assily (word of my own creation) helping themselves to the personal contents of my neighbors’ homes. I have unfortunately been sensing a slow decline in my laptop’s function and performance over the past 6-12 months. It started with a sudden and seemingly random loss of speaker output. They worked one morning, and did not work that afternoon. And they have not worked since. So I got some external speakers, significantly decreasing the portability factor of the laptop! But at least I have sound. Likely a related issue, the microphone feature has also been rendered defunct. This came to my attention as I was attempting a Skype call with my friend Paula in Portland. I could hear her (through the external speakers only, obviously!) but she couldn’t hear me. Nor could she see me, but that’s understandable as this ANCIENT laptop (circa 2005!) does not have a webcam. Solution: break out the old hands-full microphone! Portability factor now even lower.

Next break-down was the Power button. Does not work. At. All. Push it, and nothing happens. Really jam it down in there (probably a really bad idea actually), and nothing happens. Luckily this machine has a “media quick start” feature in which a swipe of the touch pad at the top of the keyboard will directly open the media menu. I simply close that menu to access my desktop. Roundabout means of access, but effective. Of course, I recently made the “mistake” of shutting down my computer one morning instead of closing it up to put it to “sleep,” and the damn thing ran the “Shutting down” screen for more than 15 hours. It would probably still be running if I hadn’t disconnected the battery to force it. I realize this is not likely the finest technological solution.

I also have a very finicky CD-ROM drive. As in, it may or may not register to the computer that there is a disk with a program to run or a song list to play/input. This is increasingly frustrating since I just bought TurboTax 2010 and can’t get it to install or open. Somehow I intend to win this particular battle. Hopefully with a simple tactic such as restarting the computer.


A Macbook is looking more and more enticing. If only they didn’t cost DOUBLE what a PC laptop does! Of course, if I would stop buying cross-country plane tickets every few months, I’m sure I’d be amazed at the balance of my checking and savings accounts, and the prospect of paying double wouldn’t be so daunting!

For now, I’m making do. And the file backup is a good start on the road to protecting information, past projects, future endeavors, and some really great music.


Fall 2010 Project: Photography

10 10 2010

This year, I’ve really started tapping into a more creative, more artistic side of myself. I bought a sewing machine and have completed quite a few wonderful projects: bags, aprons, baby dresses and burp cloths… And I have several ideas and plans for more projects in the textile medium.

But lately, I seem to be more taken with photography. I love turning my digital images into photo books with Shutterfly, and I think they (the photos and the books!) turn out pretty good! At least my friends and family all enjoy looking through them!

So it was really exciting when my friend Sunni asked me to take family photos of she and Brian and their (absolutely adorable!) 8 month old daughter. They have a really nice camera, which made me a little nervous, seeing as how this extremely amateur photographer barely utilizes the functions on my Kodak point-and-shoot! But I’m a quick study, and after a few test shots (while baby Sydney was getting into her first outfit!) we headed out to Glenwood Park for their Fall Family Photo Shoot!

As if there could even be a “bad” photo taken of this darling family!

Turning Broken, Trapped and Restless into Complete, Liberated and Fulfilled

28 07 2010

There is a new Plan for me. And yes, The Plan, is spelled with capital letters.

It is a multi-step project, which historically does not bode particularly well for Kristen of Instant Gratification. But the grand scale of The Plan necessitates organization and accomplishments made in several stages.

Baby steps.

And, I’m happy to report, the simple relinquishing of myself into the realization of The Plan has already made all the difference in me. I feel it. I am lighter, more optimistic, motivated toward this goal, even in the small baby steps I take.

And so it begins. Stage 1: Sell the House.

591 Warwick St SE – Atlanta, GA – 30316 – FMLS#: 4098583

The “good news” is that I’m not actually in a pressing must-sell situation, so I have the luxury of sitting back to just see what happens. If it sells in a week, GREAT! If it sells in 3 months, GREAT! If it’s still on the market in 6 months, well, it’s probably time to pull it off the market and revisit my selling strategy… But let’s focus on GREAT, shall we?!


8 06 2010

It is T-minus 44 hours until I’m leaving on a jet plane, heading home to Portland for a multi-event extended weekend – if you count Thursday to Wednesday as “extended weekend.

Any guesses as to the current completion level of my packing…

In my defense, there IS a suitcase on the floor… in the-opposite-of-my-defense, it’s still half-full of the remnants of last weekend’s trek to Charlotte. Tomorrow evening would not appear to rank high on the Fun Scale.

But ready or not (and I WILL be ready – just at the eleventh-hour as usual!) Thursday night will find me heading West. HOORAY!

Summer Begins!

15 05 2010

I. Love. Amphitheaters. Especially those that house such incredible concert experiences as did the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater last weekend.

It was a “homecoming” for the Zac Brown Band and did he ever do it up right! It was just an awesome night – the weather was perfect, the company was wonderful, and the music was absolutely fantastic!

It was a great way to end a very busy (and VERY fun!) weekend with my Dad. He got into town on Thursday, and we promptly dismantled the broken washing machine. After I googled “how to disassemble a GE washing machine” of course!

By Friday at 1 p.m., Dad had already been to TWO appliance parts stores, replaced the broken “rubber-band thingy,” reassembled the blasted thing, and had run a load of laundry! What a guy! And it wasn’t the only home-improvement project – we also added a light fixture to the ceiling fan in my sun room. (which, come to think of it, would have been quite helpful during the poorly lit demolition on Thursday night!)

Not to worry, though – there was plenty of Daddy-and-Daughter fun to be had! We went to the High Museum for the Allure of the Automobile exhibit. Fun to see and hear Dad’s stories of the cars he learned to drive in and the one Grandpa Andy drove when Dad was growing up. We ate well – as we Grbavacs always do on vacation! – Matador for tacos and margaritas on Seis de Mayo, ice cream at Morelli’s, and a lunch at Fox Bros BBQ that ended up being our only meal of the day! Add to that an evening in with wine and some of my favorite friends, and that’s one fabulous weekend! And one that only served to further my excitement for my trip home in June!

Creative Endeavors

30 04 2010

Those of you who know me or my family are undoubtedly aware of the incredible creativity and textile prowess of the generations preceding me… all 17 of the Z-cousins have at least two quilts (regular and Christmas) from Grandma Z, and I was lucky enough to have her make two of my Prom dresses in high school. Mom (or “Aunt Debbie” as my friends refer to her when we talk about her craftiness and projects!) can do just about anything with fabric or thread or food or paper! And it’s been somewhat of a running joke that this sort of talent had so obviously skipped over me!

In doing little projects with friends over the years – pillow covers, the dreaded French-pleat drapes (J, you know who you are), table runners – I started to get that feeling of “Wait a minute… I could do that!” But it wasn’t until I found an amazing deal on a cute duvet cover and pillow shams at the Pottery Barn Outlet (I mean an AMAZING deal: queen duvet cover $9 and pillow shams $2) that I decided I really COULD do that! See, in my joyful deal-finding haze, I nabbed two pillow shams… one of which is standard, the other is Euro. Drat. But the Grandma Z/Aunt Debbie-ness started bubbling to the surface, and I somehow figured out how I could MacGyver a standard sham from the Euro one. So I trucked my project over to Sunni’s house to use her sewing machine… *an extra trip I wouldn’t have had to make, if I had my own machine, my brain told me!*

The next project inspiration was Aunt Dona’s wonderful Schlep Bags! Mom sent me the pattern, and one rainy weekend my friend Hillary and I decided to try it. It was a VERY long day. Schlep bags are multi-multi-MULTI-step projects. And we were making two reversible bags (meaning four different “sides” with at least four different fabric squares in each side!) using just one sewing machine. *which wouldn’t have been an issue if I had my own machine, my brain told me again!* While there had to be a few tweaks here and there, the bags turned out so great! I used a lighter-weight fabric, so it’s a bit more delicate than the essentially indestructible one Dona made me. But it looks really good, and I made it myself, and now I’m convinced I need my own sewing machine!


So the joke is over! I CAN SEW, TOO!

I got my sewing machine as a pre-Christmas/Birthday gift from Grandma Z and Mom and my Best Friend (Me!) this past Fall. It’s a Singer: Esteem. Which is good to have… esteem of self, that is! And on my fourth re-threading of the needle for some unknown reason, Esteem is a good thing for me to remember! And truthfully, all that (unplanned) practice has made me a very proficient and speedy needle re-threader! (it doesn’t hurt that there’s a very nifty easy-threader device on the machine)

My first project with my new sewing machine was an apron. This is also my first attempt at sewing from a pattern. It turns out I’m a very good visual-learner! All those years of reading the backs of patterns at JoAnns and watching Mom measure and cut out patterns… I already know what to do! And with my friend’s birthday approaching, I thought this sweet apron would be an excellent gift idea! Well, the birthday came and went. Then Christmas passed. And another friend’s birthday. And I was making verrrrrrry slooooooow progress on the apron. Until Mom came to visit in March. No, she didn’t do a single stitch (even though I asked, and might have pouted a little, too) but she talked me through some of the steps that were holding me up, and now I’m just 2 steps away from completion!

One of the steps I’m very excited about… it’s a button-hole! And my magic sewing machine has a special attachment that will do it for me! There will be much practice on many fabric scraps before I try that on my darling apron. I’m not letting myself practice anything button-hole related until after I finish the other step, the one I’m NOT excited about. Hand-stitching the back of the bodice of the apron to the skirt. Booooo hand-stitching! I may or may not have devised a design-alteration that will enable me to avoid the hand-stitching all together… More rick-rack! Haven’t decided if I’m going to short-cut my way out of this… stay tuned.

Pattern-Sewing Project #2 was actually inspired from many sources. Somehow I stumbled across a photo of this cute bag, then (through the wonder of social media that is Facebook) I saw that one of my old friends from high school had made the same bag! So I printed off the pattern, cut and taped it together correctly, and on yet another rainy weekend day my friend Hillary (of Schlep bag fame!) and I each made a fantastic new bag!

Hillary’s (on the left) has a shorter strap that you just wear on one shoulder; my paisley bag has a longer strap so you wear the bag slung across your body, messenger-bag style.

I changed the design slightly from the pattern – originally both interior pockets were to be made from the lining fabric. I immediately knew I wanted at least one of them to be made of the great paisley fabric instead! It was another long day of sewing… but again, we were making two bags, both completely lined, and had access to only one sewing machine and only one iron. We need to start planning our projects better; B.Y.O.SewingMachine. I already have fabric to make two more bags. In fact, all the pieces are cut out and ready for the next step (ironing on the fusible interfacing – probably the most boring of all tasks EVER) so I’m ready for the next rainy weekend day!

The other day I worked a half-day at the hospital. It wasn’t a nice day outside, by any means, so I knew I wanted to work on an indoor project. At the Inman Park Festival last week, WhipStitch Fabrics had a booth and some extremely adorable fabric samples and really cute project ideas. So to WhipStitch Fabrics I went. And found just exactly what I was looking for!

The pattern (from Made By Rae) for an Itty Bitty Baby Dress was simple and darling enough, but it really is the fabric that makes this teeny dress absolutely to-die-for cute!

So… needless (needles?!) to say, I can sew! I have a couple new ideas and patterns in mind for future project-days, and may have reinspired talk of a “Craft Club” with my friends. One thing I know for sure… I’ll be travelling with my sewing machine on road trips, just in case there are any impromptu projects in store!

Mistaken Identity

27 01 2010

I live I.T.P.* Which means the urban-sprawl of Atlanta doesn’t really affect me on a day-to-day basis. My morning commute typically takes about 20 minutes. Interestingly enough, the afternoon commute lasts closer to 40 minutes. What this tells me is that the vast majority of Atlantans don’t go into work until after 9 a.m., but still leave by 4 p.m. Slackers.

There are infinite routes I could take to get home from the hospital. Today I was on Spring St. In Atlanta. This is an obvious point, but one that remains quite relevant when you consider what I saw next… I came around a bend in the road and saw Mount St Helens!!! Instant gasp! I’m just slightly embarrassed about how long it took me to realize that it was just the Georgia Dome.

Mount St Helens (as seen from Portland!)

Georgia Dome

That wasn’t the exact view of The Dome I had from the car today… but I hope you get a sense of how I might have been momentarily confused!

Anyway, it made me smile. And then I laughed out loud at myself for the next 10 minutes!

*I.T.P. = Inside The Perimeter (aka I-285)