Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Slower Path

On Wednesdays, I ride my bike to work. I've been doing it for about a month now. The route I take is 7 miles one way, so I have to get up a little earlier to leave and I have to shower at work, but I really enjoy it.

This morning was chillier than usual, and not because I hit the pavement at 7:03. That summer polar vortex is bringing some lovely 50 degree July weather to the greater DC area. So I got to wear a little hoodie thing my dad got me in Utah this spring, huzzah!

Anyway, when I ride my bike, I like to keep my eyes open and look for things that I wouldn't normally see if I were driving. This morning, I saw a bunny rabbit next to the bike path. I've ridden past a friendly groundhog twice. I found a section of the path with wild honeysuckle growing (I can tell by the great smell). I have seen a very dedicated Indian man who runs barefoot, twice.

But my favorite part about the ride is just being outside, and not being cooped up at my desk or in my car. I can't just turn on the AC if it's hot, I've got to deal with it for 45-ish minutes until I get home. If I get tired, then I either power through it or take a quick break for water. Big hill coming up? Get some momentum and slap that puppy into first gear. And everything is so green and smells great, especially in the mornings.

And I feel extra great when I ride past people who are stuck in traffic :) At least, until I get stuck at a stop light too.

In quilty news, I've been very busy the last two weeks. So busy, in fact, I haven't blogged about it. So there is no process imagery here. I made two baby quilts for my house mom (to give as gifts). They're based off of Juice Boxes by Cluck Cluck Sew. I wanted the squares of the quilt to have a focal point (like animals, or the very hungry caterpillar), and the bigger squares to be background. I was thinking of it as an I-Spy kind of quilt.

Anyhoo, they were flown away literally as soon as I finished them so I wasn't able to photograph them. But house mom got some cell phone pics! But I can't figure out how to upload them. So I'll post them later.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Hypothetical Library: The Building Museum

I'm getting to the age where the best part about a museum is NOT just the gift shop. Don't get me wrong, I still love looking at things that are slightly useful and completely unnecessary, but I like the exhibits a little more now.

While I was at the National Building Museum, I sat in the gift shop for almost half an hour, finding and reading cool books. So, I'm starting a Hypothetical Library, where I list off the books I like and want. (Hint: My birthday is in October, if you need a gift idea!)

Modern North: Architecture on the Frozen Edge
My love affair with Scandinavian architecture began in my Environmental Building systems class. We were learning about daylighting, and designing a building so that it utilizes daylight well. We had one slide about how the countries in the far north have to design with extreme sun angles in mind, because they receive abundant amounts of daylight half the year and practically none for the other half.

This one little tidbit got me interested in sustainable and smart design, and it's part of the reason why I'm choosing Mount Rainier National Park as the location for my thesis this year. I want to explore the particular environmental situations of locations in the northern part of the world.

And the pictures in this book are great.

Organic Hobby Farming
I've grown a garden in my yard almost every year since I was 7. And I plan to continue this tradition for as long as I can bend over and pick weeds. And this book had a really cool "chapter by month" layout, where every month it told you what to plant, what to pick, which bugs to look out for, etc. Really neat!

Tiny House Living
This book is the reason I've been on my tiny house kick all week! I WANT IT. I want to start planning and designing and saving up for my tiny house like now. But I'm at least two years away from this project, so I need to cool my jets.

And finally, The Architecture of the Cocktail. Major cocktail drinks are drawn in the graphic standards of an architectural drawing, and the recipes are illustrated in section. It's a great funny gift for the designer/alcohol enthusiast in your life!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


As I've spent my summer meeting new people and working full time, I've noticed that the things I enjoy are starting to change. The things I get excited about, the things I look forward to. I was stoked for WEEKS because I was starting a 401(k) plan (which, I now realize, was a bad move, I'm not making enough over my internship to keep the account once I leave the company- womp womp). I sit at my desk, dreaming about where I want to move when I graduate and which firm I want to work for. I have an excel spreadsheet saved on my desktop, full of firms and information about them.

I still love to quilt. I find joy in creativity (guess it's good I am going to be an architect!). And I'm starting to find new things I want to do to express that creativity.

I doubt you noticed, but I added a couple new blogs to my list of blogs I like- they're about tiny houses. I have been watching the tiny house movement for a while now, but I caught the bug over the weekend. There are so many things I like about a tiny house:

1. I'd get to design and build my own home
2. I'd get to move around and travel with everything I need on a trailer behind me
3. I wouldn't have to pay as many bills, especially if I make the tiny house self sufficient
4. It's a chance to live minimally, cut down on things that aren't necessary

Don't worry, I'll design a sewing nook into whatever tiny house I build. And hey, once I move out of my tiny house and into a normal house, I can use the tiny house as my quilt studio! IT'S THE BEST IDEA EVER.

Anyhoo, I'm still riding the high of a new idea, so I may not make much sense. But the point is, this blog will be getting an overhaul. I don't think I'll be focusing just on my sewing anymore. I want to share everything here- my projects at school, my travels, my ideas and obsessions, maybe even beer reviews. This blog is called "The Life of Couch" for a reason. It's about me and the many sides that I am made of.

I'm excited for the future. I'm excited to have a life of creativity ahead of me. And I'm excited to share it with anyone who wants to follow along!

P.S. I'm still going to blog about quilts.

Saturday, July 12, 2014


I went on an adventure today! I wanted to sew all day and knock out those baby quilts, but something in the air told me to go hang out with my friends and do something for myself.

I met up with some friends from school and we spent the day at the National Building Museum and in Old Town Alexandria. It was GREAT to catch up and hang out- we talked about our ideas and worries about thesis year, we went through the exhibits at the museum, we ate at the new Chipotle-chain Asian restaurant called Shop House (super delish, get the meatballs), and we read books in the museum gift shop.

There's a maze at the National Building Museum right now, designed by the famous architect Bjarke Ingles. The maze is designed to be built in a month, last for two, and is built in such a way that once you reach the center, you can see the maze walls around you, revealing the labyrinth you just escaped.

I also learned the difference between a maze and a labyrinth. A labyrinth is one winding path without dead ends that promotes the visitor to contemplate life and things. A maze is a convoluted path with tricks and dead ends that is not designed to promote contemplation, but instead frustration. And then leave you going, "UGH WHAT" when you finally find the end and you're like "what the hell was that walking around in dead ends for an hour for".

But I really liked this maze, it was very cool! It was pretty short, and not too difficult to get through, but that doesn't mean it wasn't fun. I was not unsatisfied or frustrated. And the tops of the maze were all sanded, so they were smooth to the touch. A nice detail that not many people notice. 


The walls rise up as you move to the edge of the maze.

There was an exhibit called "Designing for Disasters", which I found really interesting. It talked about hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and floods, and how we need to design our homes and buildings to withstand and accommodate these disasters. It's something I'd love to explore in Architecture, coming up with solutions for these weather disasters that (I believe) are only going to get worse as we go into the future. 

I think this is a great time to be an architect. Our world is changing in so many ways- the climate is changing, storms are getting crazier, education in America needs reform... And I belong to a group of people that gets to come up with solutions to move our country forward into the future. IT'S SO COOL. I have the opportunity to fix problems. I have the opportunity to create beauty. I have the PRIVILEGE to design for America and the world. I am so excited. SO EXCITED.

On an unrelated-to-what-I-did-today but related-to-the-topic-of-this-blog note, I finally got to photograph the scrappy chevron quilt I made for Hanna!

Oh I am so happy with how it turned out.

I especially like the back. I threw together all the scraps I had.

Word to your mother.