Friday, August 29, 2014

glass etching & bridal shower

My brother Christopher is getting married soon to a super sweet girl named Emily. My sister Kelsey and I hosted a little bridal shower for her where we had lunch and cupcakes and played silly shower games. I put together a "How Well Do You Know The Bride" questionnaire (trivia-related shower games, how can I resist??) and we made a bouquet with paper flower cards on which the guests wrote their memories and advice for Emily. Christopher came for the gift-opening portion at the end of the shower, and we played "The Shoe Game." The bride and groom sit back-to-back so they can't see each other and exchange one shoe so they are holding their shoe in one hand and the other person's shoe in the other hand. Then I read a series of questions like "Who takes more time in front of the mirror?" and they raise the shoe of the person they think best fits the answer. It's funny if they agree and even funnier when they don't! I found lots of fun questions online, but my favorite was: "If you were both trapped on a deserted island, who would be more likely to eat the other one to survive?"

cozy birdhouse | emily's bridal shower

As both a shower host and a future sister-in-law, I wanted to do something slightly more special than just a registry gift. To me, "special" means A) expensive, B) particularly thoughtful, or C) handmade... and you can guess which one I usually pick. Gift-making is a good time to try out a new craft because you can just go buy a gift if the handmade item doesn't turn out as planned. So, here's my first attempt at glass etching!

cozy birdhouse | glass etching, bridal shower platter

cozy birdhouse | glass etching, bridal shower platter

These photos make the glass look a bit cloudier than it actually was, but at least it makes the plate show up against the wood table. It's not perfect, but I'm happy with how it turned out! I couldn't find any stencils with the right size lettering for this plate, so I made my own out of contact paper, following this tutorial from Keep Calm & DIY. I etched the back of the plate to avoid the issue of food stains in the etched area, so the only step I had to add was making the stencil a mirror-image on the computer. This craft is not too pricey, since you can find relatively inexpensive glassware at places like Target. I boxed it up with some kitchen towels and a hot pad. Now Christopher can just take a peek in the kitchen if he forgets his wedding anniversary!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


I got you, finch! You thought you were so perfectly camouflaged in my sunflowers, but I spotted you... and your little girlfriend. She's adorable, by the way. Have you two been together long? I'd love to have some little finch babies around.

Enjoy those sunflower seeds, little guy!

Yes, I'm fully aware that these are different finches than my nemesis, but it still feels like a victory.

Friday, August 15, 2014

me vs. the finch

I have a new nemesis. He has been taunting me almost daily for the last two weeks.

I guess this whole saga started back in the spring when I planted sunflowers to fill in some gaps in the landscaping. They blossomed about a month ago and the backyard wildlife has been going crazy over them. The bees are all a-buzz, and there's a big pile of seed hulls on the porch where a squirrel stuffed its little belly.

cozy birdhouse | the sunflower and the bee

But I don't care about the bees or the squirrels... I care about the one little American Goldfinch who has been avoiding my camera for two weeks. Every evening he hangs out in the sunflowers until I come home from work. He sees my car pull into the driveway and watches me as I dash inside to grab the camera. Then, just as I'm about to take the photo, he laughs maniacally and flits away into the backyard tree line. The most frustrating encounter was when I spotted him hanging upside down from one of the sunflower heads... it was such a perfect image with the bright yellow finch framed by the bright yellow sunflower petals. But of course he took off just before I could get the photo.

I caught him just once when he paused briefly to rest in the neighbor's yard, but couldn't get my camera to focus before he got away. I used the blurry photos to make this wanted poster. Keep your eyes peeled.

cozy birdhouse | wanted: finch

Saturday, August 9, 2014

"awesome news" for $200, alex

Set your calendar reminders for Friday, October 3rd... Dan is going to be Jeopardy!

Q: Is the episode filmed already?
A: Yes! The air date is October 3rd.

Q: When is Jeopardy! on in my area?
A: Click this link to find out when Jeopardy! is on in your area

Q: How did he do?
A: You'll have to watch on October 3rd!

Q: How awkward was the interview part?
A: So awkward!

Q: How did he get on the show?
A: He took the online test back in January. Then he got a call asking him to come to Chicago for the in-person auditions where he took another written test and did some practice rounds on camera. Finally, they called in June asking him to come out to L.A. for filming.

Q: Did you get to meet Alex Trebek?
A: Dan did. I got to ask him a question from the audience: "What do you like to do Thursday through Monday (when Jeopardy! is not filming)?" He likes watching sports and reading.

Q: Can I see some pictures from your trip to L.A.?
A: I thought you'd never ask.

We made the most of our short time in Los Angeles. My parents, Dan, and I flew out a few days before the filming date to get adjusted to the time zone and do a little sight-seeing. Dan's parents arrived a couple days later. After we landed, we went straight to the J. Paul Getty Museum after we arrived. It was a little tough getting around the unfamiliar roads leading to the museum, so Dan's intimate knowledge of the maps from Grand Theft Auto V (modeled after Los Angeles) proved invaluable. The Getty was amazing... it's a huge art & architecture museum featuring the collection of J. Paul Getty, an oil tycoon who was named the richest man in America in 1957. The museum is located on a hill north of the city and has spectacular views, which you can see over the top of their cactus gardens.

cozy birdhouse | the j. paul getty museum

cozy birdhouse | the j. paul getty museum

cozy birdhouse | view of los angeles over the getty museum cactus garden

We stopped by Venice Beach for a short walk and spent a little time relaxing at Santa Monica pier. I had forgotten to bring a pair of sunglasses (on a trip to California... who does that?!), and the ones at CVS were $20. Fortunately I found an extremely fashionable red plastic pair in the little junk shops along the beach for just $3. Most useful souvenir ever.

cozy birdhouse | venice beach skate park

We also visited the California Science Center which has free admission, but for just $2 you can check out Space Shuttle Endeavor. My favorite part of the exhibit was the time-lapse video of the shuttle being moved down the side streets of Los Angeles from LAX to the museum, a process that took 60+ hours!

cozy birdhouse | space shuttle endeavor

The space shuttle was cool, but we probably spent an equal amount of time watching these fluffy chicks in the World of Life exhibit. They loved the attention and kept huddling in the corners near the cameras. We tried unsuccessfully to re-create the famous "chicken photobomb" picture taken at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry several years ago. That chicken was photobombing way before "photobombing" was a trend.

cozy birdhouse | chicks at the california science center

cozy birdhouse | chicks at the california science center

The famous chicken photobomb:

cozy birdhouse | the famous chicken photobomb

Finally we wandered through the Exposition Park Rose Garden behind the museum. I made these wallpapers (desktop, tablet, and smartphone versions available) from my favorite rose photo. Enjoy!

Rose wallpaper (desktop)
Rose wallpaper (tablet)
Rose wallpaper (smartphone)

cozy birdhouse | los angeles exposition park rose garden

Monday, August 4, 2014

coin magnets

In 2010 I traveled to Europe (Munich, Florence, Venice, Paris, and Madrid) with my friend Laura, and in 2013 Dan and I visited England and Ireland.

cozy birdhouse | europe trip 2010 with laura

cozy birdhouse | at the guinness brewery in dublin 2012

Both times, I brought home a handful of coins as a souvenir. Originally I had grand plans to display my maps, ticket stubs, and coins in a shadow box in our house, but frankly, I have more decor ideas than wall space. Then, I found a quick and easy craft project to turn those leftover coins into something useful: magnets!

cozy birdhouse | coin magnets

I simply glued a heavy duty magnet to the back of each coin, following this tutorial at Tattered Style. I recommend first cleaning the coins and magnets with rubbing alcohol and having some acetone handy in case the glue decides to glurp all over some place where it's not supposed to be.

cozy birdhouse | coin magnets

You could also use this same method to create push-pins to display your travel mementos on a bulletin board. Seriously, this was so easy... the hardest part was deciding which side of the coin to display!