Monthly Archives: May 2011

Je Voudrais un Verre de Vin Rouge

Tomorrow Mike and I depart for a trip to Europe, and we’re both acting like children who’ve just injected a mixture of sugar and Christmas morning straight into our veins.

We both feel pinch-me, tell-me-I’m-dreaming happy, and we can’t wait to see what this adventure holds.

We prepare for it in different ways, of course.  Mike arranges the purchase of our pounds and euros, and I arrange to have my nails painted in a polish with a French name.

To each his own.

Wouldn’t you agree that “You Don’t Know Jacques” is the perfect gray/clay color for a stylish Parisian wannabe?

The best part is that the polish is the new OPI Axxiom, which won’t chip for 14 days…the exact amount of time I need it to stay put.

This is our first overseas trip together by ourselves (we went with my family in 2009 and it was fabulous, but this will be fabulous in a different way).  We are going to London and Paris, and yes, I am ecstatic to be visiting the land of Wills and Kate.  I will try to compose myself when entering Westminster Abbey, but I can’t make any promises that I won’t stand there and wave like I’m the bride (I’ve been there before, but that was before the wedding of the century).  Additionally, if I get arrested by Scotland Yard for trying to break into Buckingham, I’ll be sure Mike takes a photo so I can post about it here.  Priorities!

To prepare for Paris, I took a 90 minute French class at Rick Steve’s Europe center in Edmonds.  The title of this post is a result of that class (by the way, it says, “I would like a glass of red wine”).  Yes, I am a nerd.  But at least I’m trying to be culturally sensitive…let’s be honest, I’m just trying not to make a fool of myself.

I will likely fail on both counts.  My solution?  Blame the red wine!

In another over-preparatory effort, I had lunch with a French coworker of my father’s to get her insider advice.  We sat down at the restaurant, I pulled out my multi-paged spreadsheet, and she burst into laughter so hard she couldn’t speak.

“Oh my…oh…oh….yes we are so much alike!  Zis is exactly what I would do.  I, too, would make zis.  But no, no, you cannot zee Paree zis way.  No, zis will ruin everyzing!”

I asked her what she meant and she gave me a quick lesson about Parisian culture.  Eat.  Walk.  Drink wine.  Eat.  Shop.  Drink wine.  Eat.  Eat.

She began slashing at various museums I had listed on my spreadsheet.

“Zis is a waste of time.  No.  Not zis eizer.”

“But I have to see everything!” I protested.

“And you will ruin your trip in ze process,” she replied.  I relented.

Later, when I recounted this story to Mike, he cheered.  He’d been begging me all along not to over-schedule us, to let us just walk around and experience life there.  Point for Mr. Reph.

Several of our friends have also warned us on the fashion front.

“However formal you’re thinking of dressing in Paris, double it,” they advised.  This both excited us and sent us into a mild panic.  Surely I can’t be expected to traverse the city in heels?

“Well, heels for dinner for sure,  but you can wear flats the rest of the time,” they conceded.  “But if you show up for dinner in denim, expect to be ignored.”  Noted: denim = scorn.

Though I do care about looking sharp, I mostly care about getting so wrapped up in each city that I forget about myself entirely.  Isn’t that really the goal when traveling?  My parents always taught us to see new places and swallow them whole; to lose ourselves in whatever there is to discover.

They also taught us that rest is for the weak.

“Life is short!” my mom always says when we’re all exhausted and on our tenth activity of the day.  “You can sleep when you’re dead!”

Mike and I are currently working on our own catch phrase for travel.  We’re thinking of something that reflects our family history, but equally portrays our developing attitude.

So far, we’re working with, “Life is short!  See everything!   Then stop and have a glass of wine!”


Filed under One WORD (Current Events)

Happy 2nd Birthday, WBO!

Oh little blog of mine, you’re two today!

I honestly didn’t think I could keep you alive this long, and let’s be honest, I can’t make  any promises about how much longer you’ll survive.  We’re kind of on a month-to-month basis, aren’t we?

But we’re still together!

You’re the one that keeps me writing, the one that keeps me on my toes: “It’s been TWO WEEKS since you’ve posted,” your dateline always tells me.  Sure, I’m not the most frequent of posters, but I’m certainly among the most determined.  I haven’t given up yet, and here we are on our 90th post.

I’ve essentially written 45 essays a year, and I’m not even in college.  What was I thinking?

I love it.  That’s what I was hoping, and that’s what’s happened.  I love to write and I love to share it with people.

So, cheers to my little blog that could!  Here’s hoping we make it to your third birthday, and that I post more than a handful of times before then!


Filed under ForeWORD (Intro)

Designing Woman: Part Three

People may think of a number of descriptive words for me, but D0-It-Yourself is not among them.

One of my favorite blogs that I read all the time is Young House Love, and they are all about the DIY.  But they’re DIY on crack.  They knock down walls and paint brick and tear out concrete.  They do an incredible job of making it look accessible, but it still scares the junk out of me.

Enter our hideous bar stools that the previous owner of our home left us — and refused to pick up when we found she had left them (but we could hardly blame her — they’re hideous, after all):

Not only is the pattern like something from a Ringling Brother’s Circus, but one of them was actually stained:

How did we live with them for 16 months?  If I think about that question too long I will go into convulsions, so in the interest of time, let’s skip that question.

When Mike and I decided that we finally had to get rid them, naturally we planned to throw them away and buy new ones.  But then some DIY-type friends heard our plan and were aghast that we’d waste money and resources on “such a simple project.”

Sure.  Simple for you.  This coming from the people who carve their own dining room tables.

We promptly ignored their suggestion and proceeded to look for new bar stools.  However, upon finding that any decent bar stool was at least $150 a pop, we figured why not try to fix our current ones?  If we fail we can always throw the embarrassment in the garbage and THEN spend the $450.

Off to the fabric store we went.  We chose a fabric, bought a staple gun and some backing and headed home for the dirty work.

First we took the stools apart to determine if we’d need to strip the fabric.

We decided that the backing on our new fabric was thick enough to prevent any of the old fabric from showing through, so we left the seat fabric on.

The fabric on the back of the stool, however, had to come off.  That was not a fun process.

We then proceeded to iron our new fabric to ensure it was perfectly smooth.  When I say “we,” I mean “he.”  We all know I don’t know how to iron.

Isn’t it a beautiful pattern?

Everything worked like a charm until this point.  The next step was nothing short of maddening.  We had to align the fabric perfectly, staple it correctly and tightly, and make sure the corners didn’t look freaky.  We alternated between talking to each other through gritted teeth like seamstresses on Project Runway, and cheering each other on like we were at the Mathletes Finals.

After dozens of removed staples, we finally had it:

…and then we realized we had to do it again two more times, and we almost decided it would be easier if we just sold our house and left the new owners with two torn apart stools.  Let history repeat itself, we said.

But we motored through, and finished all three seats and one seat back.

Those of you paying attention realize this leaves two seat backs unfinished.  How long do you think it took Mr. and Mrs. Reph to finish those last two seat backs?  I’ll give you some hints:

  • it’s the same amount of time it takes to get five credits at a university
  • it’s the same amount of time it takes to grow 1/3 of a baby
  • it’s the same amount of time that Seattleites enjoy the weather each year

Three months, people.  Three months.  For three months, two of our chairs sat there without backs.  For three months, we told our guests we’d “just started” this project and that we were going to complete it “this weekend.”  It was sometimes the last thing one of us would say to the other before falling asleep, “You know, we really need to finish those bar stools.  No seriously.  It’s embarrassing.”  The other would always dutifully reply, “I know.  Totally.  Let’s do it this weekend.  Oh wait, we’re out-of-town.  Next weekend, then.  For sure.”

This went on for three months.

Until this week.  This week, in a fit of energy, we decided it had to come to an end.  We got home from a date, walked right into the dining room and started stapling like it was our jobs.

Ladies and gentlemen:


Aren’t they pretty?  But really, the attractiveness doesn’t even matter to me at this point.  The point is that they are done, complete, finito.

And just as I hoped, they bring in the red from the family room behind them, and help add a little color and interest to the space.

The other side of the victory is that what should have cost $450 ended up only costing $35 ($20 for the fabric and backing, $15 for the staple gun).  Even though they aren’t perfectly done, I’ll take imperfect at $35 over perfect at $450…at least for now.

Instead of teaching us that we are DIY-capable, this certainly proved to us that we should never remodel a home.  It took us three months to do the backs of two stools; I don’t think we should be knocking down walls and replacing granite counter-tops.  For the sake of our marriage, obviously.

To read about other design projects we’ve conquered managed, see here and here.


Filed under UpWORD (Beauty)