2017 - The Surznick Common Room

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Alaska (Part 1)

Holy cow. We went to ALASKA! (It was over a month ago now but we're still pretty stoked about it.) It almost seems crazier to me than going to Europe, which is kind of weird, but the flight was longer than our trip to London and it's just somewhere that few people I know have been. Everyone and their mom and their mailman is going to Iceland right now (we did too), but ALASKA?! Nope.

My best friend, Bethany (the very same Bethany that took our engagement photos!), moved to Alaska a few years ago to be with her now-husband, Scott (it's a super cute story, by the way, and we are SO, SO happy for them!) Ever since she moved there, Nick and I have been dying to visit. Of course, life got in the way and year after year we didn't make it up there.

When Bethany and Scott announced their engagement and upcoming move back east, we knew we had to get there ASAP, while we had the chance. It was a short trip, but the entire 4 days were so jam packed with amazingness that it felt like much longer. Truly, the trip of a lifetime. It's not every day you get to visit Alaska and spend time with friends that LIVE there and travel, kayak, hike, etc. all the time. I know that if we had visited Alaska in an alternate universe on our own or on a cruise or something, we would never have done 90% of the things we did. We are so grateful to Bethany and Scott for hosting us on this trip and showing us their Alaska. THANK YOU GUYS.

So here's a little recap and a bunch of photos from the first couple days of our trip to the 49th state.

Day 1
We left Bethany and Scott's house in Anchorage early on Thursday morning and drove south for our long weekend. All 3 nights of our trip were spent away from their home, and the first night we tent camped near Portage Glacier. The glacier cruise was our first big plan of the trip, and it did not disappoint. So blue and beautiful!

After the cruise, we hiked back the Byron Glacier Trail. It's hard to describe how incredibly beautiful everything was, and these photos don't really do it justice. You'll just have to go sometime. After our hike back, we climbed up a huge rock and stopped to have a few Alaskan beers. You'll find that stopping to gaze at the beauty and drink a few beers is a recurring theme on this trip, ha.

Later in the afternoon we headed to Girdwood Brewing for some local beer flights. It was fun to chat with locals around the fire. Most said that they went to Alaska for a visit and never returned home (which seems to be a common theme.) Afterwards we grabbed incredible pizza for dinner from Chair 5 - no photos, I think we are it all too quickly. Speaking of pizza, Moose's Tooth pizza was very highly recommended to us, but we didn't get the chance to go there. The pizza at Chair 5 was killer though - highly recommend!

After dinner we headed to Alyeska Resort to take the tram up the mountain to watch the sunset. The resort itself reminded me of The Overlook Hotel from The Shining, mostly because it was so massive. I'd love to see it in the winter! We headed up the mountain on the tram around 8:30 PM and the sun didn't really start setting to close until 9:30-10 PM. SO COOL. It felt amazing to have this completely full day and not have to start winding down for the night at our usual 5:30-6 PM sunset. This first sunset we saw in Alaska was absolutely gorgeous and we couldn't have picked a better place to view it from.

Even though the tram takes you most of the way up the mountain, we had to hike a pretty steep trail to get to the very top, where we snapped most of our photos. It felt so incredible to get all the way to the top and be rewarded with that amazing sunset view. Finally, exhausted, we hopped on the tram to head back down the mountain, where we saw our first and only black bear of the trip! Then back to camp we went to recoup for day 2.

Day 2
We stared off our second morning with a home-cooked breakfast over the fire at our campsite. It rained pretty much all night and continued throughout the morning, but luckily the rain started to clear as we drove further south to Seward.

When we arrived in Seward, we stopped for lunch at Seward Brewing - both the food and the beers were great. Seward is a port city, so there were lots of cruise ships in the bay and people roaming around the town. We actually didn't explore the town and shops very much, but it was pretty cute from what we saw.

After lunch we went down to Miller's Landing to kill some time and check out the coast of Resurrection Bay. The Bay is HUGE - we'll share more about it in our second post. The color of the water is so blue-green and lovely. Naturally, we stopped to have another Alaskan Beer.

Later in the day, we headed to the cabin that we were calling home for the night. With a full kitchen and grill, we decided to cook a meal together and eat dinner by the fire. Day 3 was going to be an early one, so after a few more beers, we hit the hay. More to come soon!

Sarah & Nick

Monday, September 11, 2017

DIY Yarn Wall Hanging

A DIY, you guys! I finally got inspired to make something crafty last weekend. It was really easy and fun to make - with the exception of my cats thinking it was a toy for them (which was as frustrating as it was cute.)

The inspiration for this project came from Elsie Larson's nursery tour. The entire room is beautiful, but I fell in love with the yarn wall hanging she made. It's so simple, but I loved the colors and texture - it's different from anything I would normally hang on our walls.

I have so much yarn from various knitting projects, plus we had leftover copper pipe from our magazine rack, so I knew I could whip up my own hanging in no time at all. I went through my yarn stash and pulled out the whites/creams, blacks/grays, and three shades of green that I thought would look nice together. The beauty of this project is that you can use any colors or types of yarn you want, any type of dowel/pipe, and truly customize it to your liking. If you have all of this stuff on hand already, it's also free - which is always a plus in my DIY book.

Here's what you need!
- Yarn in several colors
- Scissors
- Tape measure
- Pipe or dowel

Here's what you do!
- Determine how long you want your yarn to be. All of your yarn pieces need to be double the length because they are folded in half when you loop them around your pipe. I wanted our hanging to be about 26", so each piece is 52".
- Start cutting! I started by cutting 6 pieces of each color and looping them to my pipe as I went. It's hard to tell how many pieces you'll need until everything is on the pipe and bunched together. I ended up using maybe 15-20 pieces in each color.
- Fold each yarn piece in half and loop them around your pipe. Bunch them together and add more yarn pieces as needed.
- Tie a yarn piece to each end and hang it up! (And trim the bottoms if you want, but it's not necessary.)

This DIY is obviously super simple and directions aren't really needed - so just start cutting and give it a try! I finished this in about an hour and a half or so and it didn't cost me any money at all. We have it hanging in our living room above our record player and I love the color and texture it brings to that corner of our space. I opted not to trim the bottom so it's super straight across, but I might in a couple months if the creases in the yarn settle a bit and it seems really uneven. Either way, I think it looks pretty great.

Thanks for reading!

Sarah & Nick

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Lately... (XII)

Hi there - how's it going? Hard to believe it's been over a month since we're posted anything, but I promise we're around. August was pretty much the fastest month in existence. We visited Alaska (!) and hope to have a recap of that trip up soon. August is also a crazy month for us work-wise. Nick and I both work in education (him as a teacher, me in HR for a school district), so August has meant lots of working late for me and lesson planning, organizing the classroom, etc. for him.

But, good news! September is one of my favorite months of the year and I'm pretty excited that it's finally here. My birthday is in a few weeks, I'll be taking a solo trip to see my mom and talk wedding stuff, we have concerts and a trip to the local cat cafe planned, plus FALL finally arrives! It's the most wonderful time of the year.

So anyway, here's a bit of what's been going on in our lives lately...

First and foremost - Hurricane Harvey. I'm sure you've seen and read about the devastation it is causing in Texas. It goes without saying that it is one of the worst natural disaster we've seen in our lifetime and it is going to take years for those affected to recover. Some of our closest friends here in Pittsburgh are Texas natives with family and friends affected by the storm. While I'm so thankful that their family's homes are okay, many, many people and animals are not faring as well. Even if you're far away and feel as though you can't help, you can. Here are a few ways:
I know there are so many ways to help, but these are just a few. Feel free to share more in the comments.

I don't want to share too much about our Alaska trip since we'll do a big recap soon, but in case you're not following us on Instagram, here are some snaps we've shared. (Also, if you're not following us, please do! We'd love to have you! @sawissinger & @nmalburg)

Nick's Sourdough Bread Fantasy aka Breadeavors aka whatever you wanna call it
Long story short, Nick is IN to making sourdough bread right now. Which is awesome for me (my pants not so much, but for my heart, yeah.) I've learned so much about sourdough bread in the past month. Like, more than I thought I would ever know. But it's really exciting and he loves it so much. He's even GIVING AWAY A FREE LOAF OF BREAD! And who says no to free bread, right? So if you're local, go enter the giveaway on his Instagram. It would make him a happy baker.

Odds and Ends
Have you recently gotten a spam phone call from a phone number that is almost identical to yours? It's been several times a week for me. I thought it was so weird, but turns out - it's happening everywhere. I listened to this Planet Money episode about why and it's super interesting. The episode is under 20 minutes, so I highly recommend giving it a listen if you're curious!

While we're on the topic of podcasts... here and here are some of our past and present favorites. These lists are a little old now, so maybe we'll post a new one soon! Anyone interested?

Last weekend we saw Dr. Cyril Wecht, forensic pathologist and former Allegheny County coroner and medical examiner, speak about the famous murders he's worked on. From JFK to Jon Benet Ramsey and Marilyn Monroe to Michael Jackson, it was so incredibly fascinating and I wished I could have picked his brain all night. By the way, if you have no idea who I'm talking about, he was played by Albert Brooks in the movie "Concussion" and he's also featured in the Kurt Cobain documentary, "Soaked in Bleach."

We don't have any big Labor Day plans coming up, but having a three-day weekend sure will be nice. What have you been up to lately? Share with us in the comments below. And don't forget to enter Nick's bread giveaway!

Well thank you all for stopping by to catch up on what's been going on! We'll be seeing you all again very soon with our Alaska recap. You definitely won't want to miss that, so be sure to stay tuned!

Sarah & Nick

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

20 Questions with Surznick (Vol. 2)

Photo by our girl B. Barton
So remember six months ago when we shared a "20 Questions with Surznick" post? People seemed to like it and we really did too, so we thought we'd do it again. Here are our answers to 20 random questions. (And in case you're wondering, we did not see each others answers until now.) Enjoy!

1. If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
S - Watch tv with my cats.

N - Nap.

2. What fictional place would you most like to go?
S - Five way tie: Halloweentown, Hogwarts, Rydell High, Stars Hollow, Pemberley

N - Hogwarts. But not when it's "not safe anymore," and only when it's winter break, because I'm not trying to go back to school.

3. If you could turn any activity into an Olympic sport, what would you have a good chance at winning medal for?
S - Winning contests. It's my speciality.

N - Whistling.

4. What skill would you like to master?
S - Booking flights/traveling for insanely cheap - people do this, right? I'm working on it...

N - There are literally too many to name. Currently topping my list are bread making and woodworking.

5. What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
S - An awesome road trip across/around/all over the US

N - Keeping myself awake until insanity.

6. What dumb accomplishment are you most proud of?
S - Winning the "Perfect Attendance Award" in high school.

N - Keeping myself awake until insanity.

7. What would be your first question after waking up from being cryogenically frozen for 100 years?
S - "What's for breakfast?"

N - "Pizza for breakfast?"

8. What are some small things that make your day better?
S - A new episode of "My Favorite Murder", my cats following me around because they love me, when Nick picks me up from the bus stop.

N - I love when I'm all caught up on my podcasts, so I just jam out to music on my morning commute. Coffee. Cooking a fun supper. Chilling at home with Surz and the kitties.

9. Who’s your go to band or artist when you can’t decide on something to listen to?
S - Lately it's The Menzingers.

N - Modern Baseball or The Front Bottoms.

10. What TV show or movie do you refuse to watch?
S - The Neverending Story and pretty much anything animated that was made in the 21st century (i.e. I'm cool with the Disney movies I grew up on but you won't catch me watching Frozen or Moana.)

N - Well seeing as I'm now someone who not only watches The Bachelor, but also The Bachelorette, and who makes my own bracket online in a league with my friends, I guess there's no limit to how low I'll go...

11. What’s something you like to do the old-fashioned way?
S - Read a book (like with paper pages and everything!)

N - Cut the grass, for some reason. I use one of those manual powered pushing mowers, and it basically sucks and takes forever, and doesn't look as nice as the electric mower that I currently also own and that functions properly. Yet still, I do it the old fashioned way (why?)

12. How often do you people watch?
S - Every day (on the bus.)

N - Literally constantly. It's the reason I get out of bed in the morning.

13. What’s the best single day on the calendar?
S - FALL DAY (it's on MY calendar.)

N - 10/31.

14. How do you relax after a hard day of work?
S - See response to question 1.

N - No matter how I attempt to "relax," it ends in "nap."

15. What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?
S - A synopsis of the WB/CW classic television series, Gilmore Girls.

N - "How to Music for Tiny Kids" or something like that.

16. What is something that a ton of people are obsessed with but you just don’t get the point of?
S - Is it sacrilegious to say Beyonce? (Not that I don't "get the point" of her, but I just... don't care.)

N - Game of Thrones (don't kill me, I'm sorry.)

17. What’s something you’ve been meaning to try but just haven’t gotten around to it?
S - A spinning class (hahah who am I?)

N - Climbing Mt. Everest.

18. Where is the most relaxing place you’ve ever been?
S - The shower at the Radisson Blu Saga hotel in Reykjavik.

N - The Radisson Hotel Blu in Reykjavik. More specifically, in the shower.

19. What is the luckiest thing that has happened to you?
S - I won Nick and I a trip to an "End of the World" party on 12/12/12. It was at The Greenbrier in West Virginia. We stayed in the most amazing room with the comfiest bed in the world, drank endless beer, went zip lining, and partied in a Cold War bunker where Rev Run was the DJ.

N - When I got borned.

20. What is special about the place you grew up?
S - It has a cute downtown, it was the nation's capital for a day, and it's home to the country's first pretzel bakery. Also, Kristen Wiig was raised there and my mom still lives there.

N - There are no local ordinances. No burning laws, no curfews, etc.

Now tell us... what are YOUR answers?

Sarha & Nick

Friday, July 21, 2017

#MeetTheMeowburgs: Save the Dates

With our wedding less than 6 months away, our planning is full-steam ahead! We mentioned in our Lately update last week that we recently ordered our save the dates and we're so excited to share them with you today.

After working with Minted for our Valentine's Day art prints and seeing the wide selection of products they offer, we knew they would be perfect to work with on this step of the wedding planning process.

In May when my best friend, Bethany, was visiting from Alaska, she shot some engagement photos of us in some of our favorite spots around Pittsburgh. I wouldn't really say that we feel like "engagement photo" people, but we did want to send out save the dates since all of our family will be coming from out of town, and a save the date would be pretty boring without a photo, right? We were so thrilled that Bethany was willing to shoot us in environments that we were comfortable in (like at brunch and a brewery, ha.)

We visited Whitfield for brunch and then hopped on over to East End Brewing for afternoon beer flights. Right around the corner from EEBC is this amazing pink wall - the photos we shot there are my favorites of the day (because PINK WALL!)

After we got our photos back from Bethany, we started looking into our save the date options on Minted. We knew we wanted a postcard style that was fun, yet simple. It was so easy to filter through the different options that Minted offers until we were honing in on our desired design.

The photo we picked was portrait orientation, so we filtered for only portrait style postcards with a single photo. The coolest part is that you can upload your photo so as you scroll through your options, you can see what your save the dates will end up looking like! You can also mark favorites along the way so you don't forget which you liked best, as there are a LOT of options.

After picking a few contenders, we narrowed it down to our final choice: Let's I Do This postcard by Jill Ellis. Since Nick and I have been together a long time (we're getting married on our 9 year dating anniversary) there's kind of a "FINALLY they're getting married" mentality around our wedding, which we totally get. We thought "Let's I Do This Thing" was the perfect message to send all of our guests to let them know that Surz and Nick are finally doing the thing.

Minted's save the dates are super reasonably priced for being custom designed and printed. The prices vary depending on the quantity you order, but for our design they ranged from $1.09 to $1.92 apiece. We placed our order and were so surprised when our bundle of save the dates was already on it's way to us two days later (super quick!)

When we opened up the package, we were thrilled with how they turned out. Our friends and family are starting to get them in the mail and we've already gotten so many compliments on the cards (as well as excitement for our wedding - eek!) If you're in the wedding planning process and looking for the best options and quality for your save the dates, check out Minted!

Just for fun, here's a few more photos from our engagement session with Bethany! Be sure to check out her blog for more photos from our shoot, plus the rest of her incredible portfolio. She'll be back on the east coast this fall, so if you are looking for a photographer, she's your girl.

Sarah & Nick

This post is in collaboration with Minted, but all opinions and design choices are our own. Thanks for supporting the companies that support the Common Room and we hope you like our save the dates!