Weekend Links.

Volcanic Rock | The Orange Slate

Kona coast | The Orange Slate

Hello! We’re currently enjoying some restful vacation in the sunshine and fun adventures with family (follow me at @emilyamccord on Instagram for some fun vacation shots!). What does your weekend hold?

Here is some weekend pool reading – inspiration and great pieces from around the web.

Shakespeare, the abridged version. (via The Washington Post)

Why Vietnamese women dominate the nail industry. (via CapHillStyle via Yahoo)

The fantastic face of today’s real journalism. (via Mic)

As a former Hill staffer, I can attest to the sometimes unfair and often uncomfortable dynamics of navigating interactions between women (often outnumbered) and men (especially senior staff or Members) on the Hill. This piece sheds some light. (via National Journal)

So sweet. The best moments in weddings are the unexpected, unplanned. (via A Cup of Jo)

Drinking coffee in Tokyo. (via Life & Thyme)

Gorgeous shots (can you tell that the ocean is on my mind right now??). (via SURFER)

It’s graduation time for many students! Some advice as they venture out. (via The Orange Slate)

Happy weekending!

 

Happy Valentine’s Day! (And Some Relationship Advice)

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Happy Valentine’s Day! This is seriously one of my favorite holidays. I love the pink, the candy, the excuse to dote on those we love, the combinations of fancy and flirty and fun.

What are you doing today? We have never gone out to dinner on Valentine’s Day. It’s just not our thing. In fact, it’s our thing to NOT, if that makes sense. One year we did lunch. Then one year when we were dating, I was horribly sick on Valentine’s Day and so we made dinner at home and ever since, we cook dinner at home.

Tonight, for the very first time, I am making steaks on the stove using our cast-iron pan. I’ve been frantically reading advice from steakmasters, so I’m hopeful. Any advice for me?

I hope your day and weekend are full of love and fun and rest. And if you still need something to do tonight, here are some tips on love, marriage, and relationships that I gathered from married couples a few years ago. It’s still one of my favorite blog posts. Consider it my (re)gift to you.

Love you all!

Weekend Linkage

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Today is the last, glorious day of February! To celebrate, the thermometers all plummeted again, just as I was absolutely certain that spring would come.

But then there is this quote that I love by Anne Bradstreet (if you didn’t take a six-week Colonial Literature course instead of enjoying the lovely months of May and June and if you don’t know who Anne Bradstreet is, you’re missing out.).

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”

And she lived in Massachusetts, which is even colder, so I think I can safely rely on her wisdom. The warmth and sunshine of spring and summer will be so much sweeter this year because of this long, dark, cold winter.

But while we’re waiting for the cherry blossoms to arrive, here are some links to check out while you huddle indoors this weekend.

Are your conversation habits undermining your credibility?

I’m not sure I want to read this fast, but this app’s claim is fascinating.

This bit of advice on stepping back, waiting, moving slowly, was just the advice this introvert needed (and hopefully what you need today as well!).

A friend sent me these provoking thoughts on how to love and reach out to singles in our circles.

Eloquent thoughts addressing some of the underlying issues with our mission trips.

What sitcoms are doing to our sense of story – and what our age of instantaneous can’t seem to take away.

Some tips (and a couple of recipes!) for better smoothies.

These tips for adding loving touches to one’s home were adorable.

And finally, a few lovely classic touches for the summer weddings that are being planned right now.

Happy weekend, my friends.

 

15 Creative Ways to Make Memories with Friends and Meet New People

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Humans are defined by their need for other people. Regardless of one’s age, relationship status, socioeconomic standing, career track, or education, we all need friends. But sometimes the same old Happy Hour at the same old haunt begins to feel a little repetitious. Even simply trying new restaurants can start to feel old (and can get expensive!). Also, as life changes, sometimes the same old routines become impossible. Marriages, children, and different schedules can make “the good old days” simply a distant memory. Creating new, fun contexts in which to spend time with people can be a wonderful way to create new rich memories.

I’ve also been struck by how many of my friends have set out to intentionally meet new people and spend time in new social contexts this year. The same principle applies – if you keep doing the same thing and spending time at the same place, you’ll continue to see the same people. If your goal is to meet new people this year, you need to change your routine.

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I read a lot of entertaining blogs and am blessed to be surrounded by a lot of creative, social friends, and I’m always impressed by the fresh, fun ideas for parties and social gatherings.

So here is a collection – all in one place – of 15 creative (and fairly low-maintenance) ways to connect with other people, strengthen old friendships, and make new ones. These ideas can easily be modified to fit the needs and schedules of couples in a new city, moms trying to meet other moms, singles trying to reach outside their regular network, or social butterflies who just want more friends.

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1. Host a mini-progressive dinner party. Serve appetizers and wine and then head out together to attend a play, movie, or concert. Short on picnic blankets? Use these tablecloths for the table and then use them for a picnic blanket later on in the evening. 

2. Identify a day and time in the week when it is consistently easy for you to host. Mentally reserve that time and have a new person or group of people over each week. Saturday brunch not really your thing? Try Sunday lunch.

3. Host a blind dinner party. Invite 4-6 friends over for dinner (fewer could potentially be awkward and more might be too overwhelming). The caveat? Each of your guests is required to bring another friend along that no one else in the group knows. This can be a great way to meet new people and blend networks!

4. Discouraged by the cold weather? Host a chili party. Chili and cornbread are fairly easy to make and can feed a crowd. As the host or hostess, you won’t have to spend the entire evening watching the meal and will have the freedom to relax and mingle. Want to make it more interesting? Ask a few friends to bring a pot of their favorite chili. Have a taste-off!

5. Share dessert. Invite 5-7 acquaintances over and ask that everyone bring their favorite, homemade dessert. Simply provide the wine. Hosting dessert is often less intimidating than arranging an entire dinner party; also, it’s often easier for guests to commit to a couple of hours after dinner than to an entire evening. Purchase a few of these awesome  tablecloths in advance to make cleanup a breeze. 

6. Host a baking party. Ask everyone to bring a favorite recipe for cookies or another baked good, along with any specialty ingredients. As the host or hostess, you simply need to provide the flour, eggs, and oven.

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7. Sign up for a cooking class with a friend. You’re guaranteed to learn something and you know everyone in the room is interested in the same thing!

8. Gather 2 or 3 friends who like to read. Pick a book, set a deadline, and organize a book discussion. The caveat? Again, everyone has to recruit another friend that no one else knows to participate. Here are a few titles to get you started:

9. Plan a hike, a visit to some local wineries, or an afternoon at a nearby beach and encourage friends to invite their friends and co-workers.

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10. Initiate a local photography project. For instance, the goal could simply be “30 photos of our city in 30 days.” (To increase visibility, create a hashtag for the event.) Encourage friends to tell their networks about it and to publicize their project on Instagram and Twitter. At the end of the project, invite everyone who participated over for a time of wine and snacks to share the results!

11. Find a local outdoor concert or play and gather a group of people to picnic together and attend. The only rule? Everyone has to bring a dish to share.

12. Arrange a reglar BYOB backyard Happy Hour. Set a regular date (say, the third Thursday of every month) and take turns hosting. Invite friends, acquaintances, and co-workers as the opportunity arises. Soon your new tradition will be a favorite!

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13. Pick an outdoor activity that you enjoy like running or biking. Set aside a regular time every week or month to participate with friends who also enjoy the activity. Create an “open-door” environment so that friends feel comfortable inviting others to participate whenever the opportunity arises. Soon you’ll have a fully-fledged running/biking/walking/jogging club!

14. Gather other local bloggers for an evening or afternoon of sharing ideas, inspiration, and disaster stories.

15. Enlist the help of two or three energetic, creative friends and have a dressy, multi-course dinner party. Invite as many friends as you can seat, and insist that everyone bring a date or a friend. Everyone has fun dressing up! (And at the end, if you used your magical tablecloths you can simply throw them into the washer for easy clean-up!)

9 Do’s and 1 Don’t for Painting a Room

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We just finished our first we-are-newlyweds DIY home improvement project. The project started as most enormous ugly down-and-dirty home improvement projects start out – small. We need to replace a fan. One fan. The scouting mission returned from Home Depot with not one, but five fans. A week later, I was sharing my daily working office (my living room) with a construction crew attempting to replace our popcorn ceilings with new bright fresh drywall. (Because why would you put new fans on old ceilings?)

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Then one sunny Sunday afternoon, we were a little bored, and so we decided to just go to Home Depot and check out some paint colors. That night, and the next night, and almost every spare waking moment for the next two weeks involved paint. If it didn’t involve paint, it involved scraping.

I’ll be honest – our little painting project turned out to be a ton of work. I’m not sure either one of us had any idea what we were getting into.

The trim, doors, and windows on our main floor were originally painted in a deep brown . . . striking, but extraordinarily difficult to cover with white paint.

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To make matters worse, our main floor has two sets of beautiful antique French doors. We’re pretty sure they are original to the house and they’re a  lovely tribute to history but a NIGHTMARE to paint. They had been painted before in the same deep brown and brown splatters covered large portions of the glass. Antique wood also has all sorts of cracks, crevices, and misfitting corners that make painting and scraping a tedious task.

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Covering the dark paint on the French doors and scraping every inch of the antique glass was a task that took up easily half of our total painting time.

There were disastrous moments – like when Mark took hours to painstakingly tape every inch of our living room ceiling only to pull the tape off and find that the tape was bringing large chunks of the newly painted ceiling and patches of the fresh blue wall with it.

And there moments of sweet relief, such as at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday night when we collapsed, totally exhausted, on our couch and gazed at our bright snazzy new paint job.

I love the new look of our main floor. It’s so bright and crisp that just walking upstairs to make my coffee in the morning is exciting. We learned a lot of lessons during our painting excursion and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I would definitely do it again. I also think that, with the lessons we’ve garnered, we could probably do the same project again in half the time. Live and learn.

So, in the hopes of saving someone else some of the agony that we endured, here are 10 lessons from a painting newbie:

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1. Do test the colors with real paint.

Don’t just use swatches. We tested a number of colors that we thought we liked on the walls, only to realize that they didn’t look the same on the wall. When we found the color we liked, it looked good on the swatch and both walls that we tried it on.

2. Do pick a color you absolutely love.

Painting involves a lot of work and time even if it is an fairly inexpensive home update. Don’t settle on something that someone else likes or a color that is simply safe. Look at lots of samples and pictures until you fall in love with the right color. We went through an absurd number of blue, gray, and blue-gray swatches and samples (as well as some yellow, green, and cream) before we found the right color.

3. Do test the color in different kinds of lighting.

Even if you are only painting one room, test the color in the morning, afternoon, evening, and in different shades of lighting if possible. Colors change with weather and time of day and some colors that look great in the morning look drab in the evening.

4. Do cover everything.

There were several nights during which Mark or I just grabbed a scraper or a paintbrush to work for “just a few minutes”. Not the best thing for our floors or furniture. I am still scraping paint off of our floor (fortunately latex paint comes up without too much fuss!). We could have saved ourselves hours if we had only taken a few minutes at the beginning to cover everything diligently with a disposable material like plastic.

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5. Don’t tape.

Every time we used tape, we were disappointed. We taped the floors and our line was less than straight. We taped the ceiling and damaged the ceiling paint, causing hours of extra work. We spent some really painstaking hours taping the French doors and then realized that a paint scraper took paint off of the glass with less effort than the taping took. Unless you have perfect lines to work with (our old house has very few perfect lines and lots of funky edges), taping is going to require a lot of time and the result will be less than satisfactory.

6.Instead of taping, do edge the trim and ceilings using a plastic spatula edge and a paintbrush.

Mark rolled the walls, leaving about a 1″ border around all of the edges. I was able to quickly edge our ceiling in all three rooms in only a few hours by using a plastic smoothing tool for a straightedge and a small paintbrush. I used a wet rag to quickly clean up any mistakes along the edges and in less time than it would have taken to tape, I completed all of the ceiling edging. The floor trim, doors, and windows were equally easy.

7. Do get a glass scraper and a box-cutter and learn to use them.

If you have French doors, these two tools will be priceless. Our glass panes took a while because our doors are very old, but these two items still got the job done. Newer doors would be much easier to scrape because the wood lines would be cleaner. This tutorial from Centsational Girl saved us hours and hours and hours of painful (and probably frustrated) labor.

8. Do turn the music up. 

There’s no reason to paint and swear in silence. Find some lively music and turn the volume up. It will preserve your sanity.

9. Do leave your equipment out and accessible.

We didn’t clean up our painting tools for the entire two weeks. Yes, it was a pain to be constantly stepping over paint cans and scraper tools. But it was much easier to motivate ourselves to paint in the evening because our tools were right in front of us on the living room floor, ready to use. It saved us hours of clean-up and set-up time. Yes, your house will feel like a construction zone for a week or two. But it will look that much better when the job is done and the tools are put away.

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10. Do give yourself some grace while you’re painting.

Painting is like life. It’s not a perfect art. It’s especially not a perfect art if you live in an old house. Nobody sees the corner and lines and edges like the painter does. Aim for 95%, not 100%. Probably no one will notice that 1/4″ spot behind the door on the left that you just couldn’t patch perfectly. Don’t agonize too much over the tiny details.