Monday, August 31, 2009

Places to put our things

It was a big weekend in casa chappell.  We went organizational furniture shopping.

[Organizational Furniture: a term used to describe furniture that helps you get your stuff in order.  Examples: bookshelves, TV stands, dressers, cabinets, etc.]

I'm happy to report our trip[s] were a big success, and we are on our way to some serious home organization.  Yippee!

The last two days, Eric has spent lots of time on the living room floor making something of this, and things like it.

Our first project was the TV stand.  Our tv has looked like this for the last two months

ed note: this photo was taken while Eric assembled the stand.  We both deeply regret the waste of this 2 hours of our lives, but will never make the same mistake again.  Please don't watch this movie.  It will make you want to puncture your ear drums and pluck out your eyeballs. It was painfully awful.
Anyway, by the end of the evening, we were pleased display our old tv on this beauty!  (and the OCD in me is trying not to wince at the clash of woodgrain.)

Our next purchase was the biggie...a DRESSER!
I think Eric let me buy this just so I would stop sighing deeply and frustratedly every single time I walked into our bedroom.  We had NO place to put our clothing for the last two months.

So Saturday afternoon, I picked up this:

and these:

 and folded them nicely and place them in this!!:

isn't she a beauty?  We bought her on clearance from a local furniture store because there is a piece of wood gouged out from the bottom left side of the dresser.  When the dresser is laying on our (kind of) shaggy carpet, it's almost undetectable.  I'm trying to think of a name for her, so let me know your suggestions.

Anyway, this dresser was the highlight of my weekend, and yes--I will eventually put a picture of us in that empty frame.  *sigh*.  (that's a happy, contented sigh this time)

Lastly, Eric's piece of organizational furniture--bookshelves!!

I can't tell you how many books we already own between the two of us (Eric's library makes up at least 80% though).  It's over 500, I think.  We knew we didn't want to display only books on our shelf wall in the living room, but wanted to keep it open looking.  (More on this to come.) So that's a loss of some book shelving space.

Eric had seen a bookshelf system at IKEA that had a piece that worked for corners. (space saving) We decided it was perfect for his office.

 (photo taken at ikea)

Unfortunately, it was not a perfect fit for our little honda.  In order to take it home, we ended up having to open up the trunk, recline my seat and push the shelves halfway onto the passenger seat.  I spent half the drive sitting indian style with my back to the side door, facing Eric, and the other half hunched under the bookshelves.  I'm sorry I don't have a picture.  it was quite uncomfortable.

It turned out to be well worth it.  The nice thing about IKEA furniture is that it's easily added onto.  We can triple the amount of book shelf space by buying just a couple additional pieces.  We'll see how far this gets us for now.

I'm planning to count and catalogue all of our books before reshelving and then I'll show you the final product.

until next time, thanks for coming all with me on the organizing adventure :-)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wedding photos!

Out photographers recently sent us this video slide show they put together of our "first look" pictures and bride and groom portraits.

The slide show is set to our first dance song, Let It Be Me by Rosie Thomas.

Hope you enjoy...I've watched this more times than I care to admit!

The First Look- Katie & Eric from Sara Mannino on Vimeo.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Twilight: The Dawn of Dismal Writing

(Preface: If you are a 14-year-old girl or enjoyed Twilight, do not read this post.)

I seldom am on top of my cultural game. It took the final release of the seventh Harry Potter installment for me to read Rowling's heptology. I wasn't interested in The Sopranos till it was in its 5th year. We just started watching LOST in lieu of its last season. In the past, the more popular a novel/TV show/film is, the less likely I am to go see it until it has been tested and approved from a variety of sources. In my efforts to be more culturally with-it, I have been trying to better keep up with the new releases. I should have known better after reading William Young's The Shack, but I fell for it again; although this time I wasn't caught reading a poorly written piece of heresy, but rather a poorly written teen-romance in the facade of a horror novel.

Stephenie Meyer's novel (if it can even be called that), Twilight, is everything that Bram Stoker's Dracula, R.L. Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and E.A. Poe is not, i.e. good horror fiction.

If you haven't read the book (and I strongly encourage avoiding it), the plot basically follows the "dramatic" life of a typical high-school aged girl, Isabella Swan, who moves from sunny Phoenix, AZ to the dreary, rainy, small town of Folks, WA. She ends up meeting a strange group of kids at high school who turn out to be a family of ancient vampires. These vampires have learned to assauge their bloodlust by hunting big game in the forests of the northwest while living peaceably among an unknowing human public. She falls for Edward Cullen, one of the leaders of the coven, who is torn between dating Bella and sucking her blood. Over one too many chapters where Meyer continues to re-hash a poor high-school love story, the two characters must learn to deal with each other on unequal footing, wrestling with the choice to taste of the forbidden fruit of their unnatural and forbidden love. Without too many spoilers, a group of human-blood-thirsty vampires discover Bella and a chase ensues that lands Bella in a hospital with a raging desire to become a vampire herself (I didn't even see it coming...).

The book sucked, for many reasons. But here are just the lowlights. First, the opening page is a quote from Genesis 2:17 which is the LORD's commandment to Adam and Eve not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. You can only copy/paste a Scripture quote at the beginning of a book if your story deals with themes that are of biblical proportions. Stoker is allowed this; Meyer...not so much. The quoting of Scripture at the beginning gives her book a weight which the plot and the characters cannot bear resulting in completely failed expectations.

Then, the preface starts with a young girl near death who is in the presence of a vampire ready to kill her. Obviously, this is near the climax of the book. But when the climax comes, Bella faints giving us no indication of a wicked vampire fight scene that occurs between her hunter and her lover. We get absolutely no details, only who comes out on top. What this does for the reader is build our suspense to the brink only to give us no satisfaction. Reading the book is like winding a broken Jack-in-the-Box, you turn and turn...and nothing happens.

I could talk about the utter lack of depth to these characters till I am blue in the face, but I will mention just one aspect of this story that kept coming back to annoy me again and again. The main character, Bella, is an average girl. She appears normal. She does normal things. While we are given no detail at all about what she is like, other than that she can't dance, we do find out she is incredibly able to somehow accept the existence of supernatural creatures in our reality. The reason why Harry Potter works and Isabella Swan does not (on at least one level), is that the existence of magic and a supernatural reality explains things about Harry's world, about who he fundamentally is. Hogwarts gives Harry answers that the Muggle world could never answer for him. But nothing is enhanced by Isabella's discovery of a supernatural reality. She just accepts it and continues drooling over a hot guy. If Isabella is a normal girl, she wouldn't be able to believe in the existence of vampires. Her culturally, scientifically-driven mind wouldn't allow for it. I consider myself normal, but if I came across a vampire, I would try and find a million reasons to explain its existence other than it actually being a vampire. The problem with Bella is there is no fear, no disbelief, no awe in the face of the supernatural, only a superficially-driven crush over a guy's good looks and unnatural skill set. The existence of the vampires does nothing to the plot, it is merely tacked on as a device to sell books in the guise of something interesting.

Along with Bella's unbelievable acceptance of an unbelievable reality, Meyer's characters do not progress or develop in the least. There are no moral dilemmas that result in deeper understanding of the ethical complexities of life, no development, no growth. It's just a silly girl who keeps commenting on the sweet coldness of her vampire boyfriend's breath as it touches her lips and complains because he won't do what she wants and change her into a vampire.

The obvious problem with the book is its author. Stephenie Meyer is a romance writer trying to pass her self off as someone who cares about vampires. Unfortunately, no attention is given to vampire myth. Instead, we are inundated with insipid melodrama and banal attempts at sentimentality. I don't mean to keep coming back to the Potter books, but they remain a good way to gauge over what is good popular fantasy, and what is just pure crapola. Meyer's pathetic attempt to rival Rowling's Quidditch is a contrived vampire parallel that falls flat on its face only extending the length of an already anticlimatical plot.

The entire time I read this book (post-film release), I felt like I was reading a poor movie-to-book script. It is no wonder that it took Meyer several tries and a low-rent, b-list publisher to publish this piece of trash. The only thing that kept me reading was the hope that either Blade or Buffy would come on stage and end this literary shenanigan with a stake to the heart.

Friday, August 14, 2009

strawberries, webcam, and the weekend.

I have been buying pints of strawberries every single grocery shopping trip. (yumm, cheap California strawberries) I'm not quite ready to start making jam or anything serious, but we have been having tons of strawberry brown sugar toast! [the boss family will know what I'm talking about:-)] Eric saw me make it one morning for breakfast and has been hooked ever since. But he wants to know, Grammy, does it have an actual name??

I got a web cam while Eric was gone last weekend (story to come). It was on sale at Target and looks like this:

It's pretty tiny (maybe 3/4 inch by 2 inches?). I wanted it in red or blue, but all they had left was black. Who wants to video G-chat with me? anyone?

Also, this weekend we [tentatively] plan to:

  1. Grocery shop with a meal plan for the week (thanks mom and mrs. G, for setting the example on this. I hate deciding dinner on my way home from work only to find I don't have any of the ingredients I need!)
  2. Start sorting books (our living room has looked a little bit like this for over a month, hence, no pictures of our house yet)
  3. shop for bookshelves (Eric want this corner bookcase or something like it)
  4. get my computer fixed!
  5. go through more honeymoon pictures!
Here's a glimpse from the first day in Italy:


just a little update from Casa Chappell :-)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

the wonders of picnik

As I've been going through the hundreds of pictures from our honeymoon, and non-prfoessional pictures from the wedding and rehearsal, I wanted to pick a few to edit carefully and either put up on the blog or put into a blurb album.

As Microsoft photo manager is fairly primitive and I we can't afford to buy and learn photoshop....I finally found an alternative: Picnik

It has far more options and effects than your basic photo editor, and it can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be (especially if you buy the pro version)

But even with picnik, you need to start with an eye for beauty.
And I, unfortunately just enjoy seeing how many effects I can use in each picture.

Just for your amusement, here are the pictures I've butchered so far:



good bye dad's head and ugly yellow curtain, hello color saturation




Editing can't mask the fact that I'm trying to cover my snorting,
and eric got a little sunburnt in mexico.


I'm sorry for hurting your eyes, but I'm having fun playing!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Becoming a Chappell

Becoming a Chappell has been one of the most frustrating and lengthy processes I've ever endured.

And I'm not talking about marriage. Marriage has been great.
But changing my name...a whole other story.

No one told me what a pain it was going to be to get married, change my name, and move.
Don't believe me? let me share with you the list of organizations that need to be notified (officially, with a copy of my marriage certificate) of my legal name change and address change.

Before starting the process on any of these, I had to pay $30 to obtain 4 copies of my marriage license from Cook County courts.
  1. Social Security Administration. This involved mailing my old SS card, DL, birth cert, marriage license and a form. I spent $5 on insurance and certified mail to make sure my documents didn't get lost in translation.
  2. DMV. You can only obtain a CA license after your name has been changed with SSA. You must bring in 5 documents including form, wait in line for an hour, and then take a written test. California driving rules, like everything else in CA, are WAAAY different and more complicated than the rest of the U.S. So this afternoon finds me returning to the DMV to repeat the process, take unpaid time from work and hopefuly pass the written test this time! $28
  3. Passport. I can only obtain my passport after SSA has my new name change. Also, I have to apply for a brand new passport. Which means another $75 after just paying that 2 years ago for my trip to Africa.
  4. Post office. The most painless of all. It involves filling out an online form that takes all of 3 minutes. Hooray!
  5. Credit Cards. I have 3 (one store charge card). They usually require proof of name change and must be conducted over the phone.
  6. Bank accounts (I have 2 accounts with one bank, and investments with another) similar process to credit card.
  7. Student loan organization
  8. Insurance company. This was easier because I started a new job. I only had to provide proof to my employer once for all my benefits at WSCAL. But for car insurance...I had to obtain a CA license before qualifying....just another hoop to jump through!
The cost of changing your name and moving to a new state(so far): $138
The cost of living on your own: astronomical

Becoming a Chappell: priceless
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