Monday, February 28, 2011

Antici........pation!

Well, ladies and gents, I am delighted to have a surprise awaiting you on Wednesday. There's a first-time something happening on this blog, and I can't wait to announce it!

Stay tuned for details....

(Are you excited? I'm excited)

Musical Monday: Old Maid in the Garret


It's interesting to note that, even though this is definitely a woman's song, it's traditionally sung by men. Why? That's a mystery Angie and I will have to solve when we go to Ireland.

Soon, right? ;)

This is my song today because I've decided I need to stop having this mentality. The unspoken pressure to get married and start my family as soon as possible is damaging my relationship with Scotsman. I've been focusing way too much lately on comparing him to that stock prototype of my future husband and the father of my future children, instead of just enjoying the relationship as it stands right now. After all, right now is all I have.....and the more I plan for the future, the more I am inviting the gods to find/make comic fodder there.


(this is not my favorite composition/version of this song, but it'll do)

I have often heard it said from me father and me mother
That the going to a weddin' is the making of another
Well, if this be true, I will go without a biddin'
O kind providence, won't you send me to a wedding

And its O dear me, how would it be,
if I die an old maid in a garret

Well, there's my sister Jean, she's not handsome or good looking
Barely sixteen and she had a fella courtin'
Now she's twenty-four with a son and a daughter
Here am I at forty-five and I've never had an offer

And its O dear me, how would it be,
if I die an old maid in a garret


I can cook and I can sew and I can keep the house right tidy
Rise up in the morning and get the breakfast ready
There's nothing in this wide world would make me half so cheery
As a wee fat man who would call me his own deary

And its O dear me, how would it be,
if I die an old maid in a garret


So come landsman or come kinsman, come tinker or come tailor
Come fiddler or come dancer, come ploughboy or come sailor
Come rich man, come poor man, come fool or come witty
Come any man at all that will marry me for pity



And its O dear me, how would it be,
if I die an old maid in a garret


Well now I'm away home 'cause there's nobody heeding
There's nobody heedin' to poor old Annie's pleadin'
I'll go away to my own wee bit garret
If I can't get a man, then I'll surely get a parrot



And its O dear me, how would it be,
if I die an old maid in a garret

Asking vs Nagging

Since so many of you are wives and partners, and the housekeepers and domestic goddesses of your abode, I wanted to pose a question. 

I'm a pretty neat and organized person. I'm also somewhat clean, but not twitchy about it.

Almost everyone I have ever lived with has been much more relaxed about cleaning than I am. 
As in, they don't take initiative to clean a space until it's causing issues (like animals are getting into the dirty dishes laying around the house). 

I tend to fall into this rut where I become their mom, cleaning up after everyone who make make vague promises to clean but have no follow through, which then sets a precedent.

So my question is this:

How do you get your partner to be more proactive about cleaning up after themselves, without being a nag, implying they're being a slob, having to ride them about it for weeks, etc? 

Ultimately, I'd love to only be having to do HALF the cleaning of the house, with him doing the other half, as it seems fair. But clearly, having a clean home is a different priority for us.

Any advice is GREATLY appreciated!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cat Therapy

In what must only be an attempt to comfort me during this protracted illness (and not, say, because it's been cold as Canada here, or because she's just a cat), Lucy has taken to sleeping on me as much as possible.

I've been spending most of my days curled up on the couch, reading or watching tv or napping and waiting to get well again.

She's either sweetly resting against me, or holding me down. Here are her favorites:

Curled up against my thigh...and the pillows. You can't tell, but her head is actually on my ankle.

Draped over my ankle again.

Kitty yoga, on and behind my curled legs.

"What?" She's on my outstretched legs.

(My favorite: Draped over my hip with her mug on one side, and her wump on the other) 

Too cool. 

In between my outstretched legs.

In between my outstretched legs, facing the other way and looking wistful on my foot.

Greatest Discovery Since Coffee Beans




Some of you may already know this, but I just figured this out (and tested it, to verify that it works).

When making a boxed mix cake, or cupcakes, or whatnot....instead of water, you can use juice!

So I just made chocolate cupcakes with orange juice (fabulous, btw).

You use the same amount of juice as you would with water.

Now, this creates some endless possibilities.

Banana cupcakes with blueberry juice?
Chocolate cupcakes with pomegranate juice?
Spice cake with apple juice?
Lemon cake with grapefruit juice?
Strawberry cupcakes with cherry juice?

And what about vegetable juices? I imagine, if they're thin enough, they'd work as well.
Carrot cake with tomato juice? Hrmmm....

Saturday, February 26, 2011

My Happy List

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Ok, I admit it- making this week's Happy List is a little difficult. Being sick puts a pallor on everything, and I simply haven't DONE much this week because of it. But it's important to focus on the positive, so here we go:

I am happy because this clearly isn't strep throat. The coughing is becoming quite painful to my chest, back, neck, head, and throat, but at least I can swallow my own saliva. Yay!

I am happy because my friends Ryan and Melissa just had their first baby last night. After 28 hours of labor (yowch), Jaxon Connor Hendriks was born healthy and big, and he's gorgeous. I just sent a box of homemade baby clothes and mobile to them.

I am happy because I am this much closer to my dream of having my own organic veggie garden. Seeds are ordered and shipping, I just need to get the pots and soil and such. And protect them from the cat, while they're inside to escape the frosts. Yay!

I am happy because Scotsman is FINALLY making progress toward improving his credit (something I've been fixated on for 4 months now), thanks to a little cash bump. I always feel better when things are moving forward instead of stagnating.

I think that's about it. I broke down and had a soy latte yesterday (an 8 oz one) and it's been intestinal death for me ever since. I just ate a cadbury creme egg because I haven't had one in years, and my teeth huuuuuurt from all that sugar. I really hope they don't contain dairy or soy. Not my smartest move, eating without checking it first. :(

Enough of my whinging. What are YOU happy about this week?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Coffee Love


I just keep reading more and more findings that support the concept that 1-3 cups of coffee per day is good for your health. Yay!

Celebrate the world's sexiest addiction by checking out High Heeled Love's "C is for Coffee" giveaway, and score your own enablers! :D

Friday Confessional

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I confess...
I have felt like a pile of rat doo this week. And I'm not a nice person when I'm sick.

I confess...
If you say you're going to do the dishes, and 3 days later you still haven't, and yet you yell at me for doing them, I think I have the right to do them anyway. 
Because I have a right to a nice, clean kitchen regardless of whether you feel guilty over making false promises.

I confess...
I am in a pickle about social networking sharing. I bitch about being too poor to go to the clinic, because I just need to bitch about this situation.

My friend responds by trying to PayPal me the money to go.

I feel guilty, and embarrassed, and ashamed, so I reject the money.

It's not that I don't value your empathy, it's that I don't feel right taking money from someone. I'm a lender in life, not a borrower.

I confess...
I have not been to the doctor. 
Because I have been sick a lot in the past 10 years.
And the same thing always happens:

I go.

They tell me it's viral, go home, and wait it out.

I pay the bill.

I feel embittered for going in the first place when I knew they would say that.

I confess...
WebMD is not helping in this case.

I confess...
I want my mom to be here, coddling me and doing that mom thing where she knows just how to make me feel better. 

I know that makes me some sort of pansy, since I'm 29 and living my own life. 

But sometimes, I just want to be able to be the child version of me, and have someone take care of me for a day or two.

I confess...
I'm also feeling ripped off. Doppler said we'd get 2-6" of snow on Wednesday and 2-3" of snow on Thursday. The towns all around us got snow. We got breezes and temps of 18 degrees, and snow flurries that came sideways and didn't stick.

If I'm going to be bankrupting myself running the heater, at least let me have some snow to play in! C'mon!

Go unburden your soul and link up to Mamarazzi!

Fat Ass Friday


Previous weight: 174 lbs
Current weight: 173 lbs

I'd wahoo this one, but it feels like cheating. I haven't done any workouts this week, and haven't moved much from the couch, because I've been sick. 

When other people get sick, it's under-the-weather for a day or two, then back to normal.

When I get sick, it's every symptom in the book for 1-2 weeks. This time it started with severe exhaustion, bad sore throat, fever, dizziness/disorientation and white raised spots in my throat. It has since progressed to not-raised larger white blotches in my throat, 'productive' cough, headache, bodyaches, occasional chills, and nausea. 

So, naturally, I haven't been eating much either. Nothing of what I've eaten this week has been particularly healthy (mostly it's carbful, because I use food as comfort). But neither has it been fatty, or large portions. 

And apparently that works for weight loss! So, while I doubt this weight will stay off, and I doubt I've lost inches at all, it's good to note that now would be a perfect time to keep my portion size small from here on out.

I do want to give props to Brandy, and everyone else who is linking to Fat Ass Friday, who lost weight the good way (diet and exercise) this week. Yay!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Baby Pants Tutorial

(that's Chelsea, whom I had the honor of holding when she was 2 hours old. It changed my life. Isn't she a peach?)

Since just before Christmas, I have been in a baby-clothes-making flurry of activity. It seems I know a lot of little ones that are less than 2 years old, or still just wee buns in the oven. And making baby clothes is so much quicker and easier than making adult clothes and costumes, it's actually fun to do!

I figured, since I'm making a lot of pants right now, I would share my basic baby pants tutorial with you.

This project generally takes about 2 hours from start to finish. You can easily use scrap or spare fabric for it, and impress your pregnant friends with your custom-made digs for their little one. :)

This is roughly for a 3-4 month old, though it's an inexact science (since babies vary in size). If you want to make it for a newborn, or a toddler, try resizing the pattern. To do this, subtract/extend the vertical parts (waist and ankle hem) by about an inch, and the horizontal parts (the leg) by 1/4 to 1/2 inch.

You will need:
  • 1 yard material (cotton, knit, cotton blend, etc). You can get away with 3/4 yard, but I prefer to have excess material in case of mistakes. You can always use the leftover material for a headband, hat, booties, matching flower accessory for the mom, etc.
  • Matching thread
  • One half yard of 1/4" wide elastic (for waist and ankle)
  • Pins for securing pattern to fabric
  • Sharp scissors for cutting out fabric
(I apologize for not having a pattern here that you can print off as a template. I tried, I really did, but until I get a working scanner it's kaput. If you google "baby pants pattern" you can find some generic ones, or just draft your own)

Each of these two pieces is a 'front' and 'back' of the pants. Note the difference in swoops/curves there.

The piece with the sharper curve (more of a point, and swoops upward just a bit more than the other) is the front. 
(there's the front piece, with the sharper curve)

The one with the gentler curve (more blunted, and slightly lower than the front piece curve) is the back piece. That's because the back needs more room for the butt, and the diaper.
(theres the back piece, with the blunter curve)

Cut out two fronts and two backs.
(see the difference when front is laid over back?)

Stitch front to back (right sides together) on the outside leg edge (the longest one without a curve).
(outside leg edge stitched! Fabric opened to show you)

Stitch front to back at the inside leg edge (opposite the outside leg edge, just the straight part without a swoop or curve).
(check out the awesome decor in the background)

You should now have two front and back combinations in your hot little hands.

Turn one of those inside out. Then nestle it inside the other piece, so that the right sides are together and the seams match and all.
(obviously, don't leave your hand inside the nestled legs while sewing *wink*)

Sew these together along that curve (which is front, crotch, butt, and back seam). Reinforce the crotch area by stitching just inside your first line of stitches (i.e. slightly closer to the edge of the fabric), along the base of that curve.

Trim the edge fabric in that reinforced area, so there won't be a big bulk in the crotch (even for babies, that has got to be very unpleasant).
(trimming the crotch!)

Pull one leg out of the other, and you have an almost-done pair of pants!

Turn the pants inside out, and start on the waist casing for elastic. To do this, turn the waist fabric 3/4" over. You can either pin or iron this fabric, but I recommend not just 'eyeballing it'.
(sorry for the yellowness here, but that's the casing being sewn)

Now sew about 1/2" away from the fold, making sure that you leave a 1/2"-1" large opening for inserting elastic.

Cut the waist piece of elastic. If the baby is on the small/young side, cut 15 1/2" of length. If the baby is on the larger/older side, cut 17 1/2" of length. Somewhere in between those two numbers is the length of elastic you want to have in your hands.
(measure twice, cut once!)

Using an elastic threader, or a safety pin hooked into the elastic as a 'guider', thread the elastic through the opening, through the waist casing, and out the other side. Make sure you anchor the end of the piece as you're threading, so you don't end up putting all of the elastic in the casing and having to start over. (*ahem* Been there, done that).
(wrinkly hands!)

After you are certain that the elastic hasn't twisted while inside the casing (which is probably hasn't), match the two exposed ends of elastic. Stitch them together, 1/2" or less from the edge of the elastic ends.
(the two ends of elastic, matched and ready to be sewn together)

Stretch the waistband to pop that now-one-piece of elastic inside the casing. Stitch closed the opening in the casing.

Almost done!

Keeping the pants inside out, make the casing for each ankle. To do this, turn the ankle edge of fabric 3/4" over. You can either pin or iron this fabric again.

Do the same for the ankle casings as you did for the waist casing, leaving that opening to thread the elastic through.

Cut two pieces of elastic, each 7 1/2" long.

Insert the elastic, and the rest of it, the same as you did for the waist.
(the ankle on the left is done, the ankle on the right just has the casing sewn, no elastic inserted yet)

Did you sew closed the casing opening in each ankle?

Then voila! One pair of baby pants.
(Sorry that it's sideways, but you get the idea, right?)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cheer Up Swap Goodies!

My swap package arrived yesterday, but I was too sick to do anything about it.

Today, I am still sick (*sigh*), but dangit, I'm opening my goodies!


In this swap, hosted by Brandy of You Don't Know (who is a former swap partner of mine), I was paired with Jane from Jumpin' in the Jungle. For those that don't know her, Jane is a super creative mom of four, with cats and a big heart. She has an ArtFire store where she sells her cool fleece goodies (blankets, scarves, etc) AND an Etsy shop where she sells button art and such. So if I ever get my act together enough to make my own Etsy shop for my creative stuff, I'll definitely look to her for pointers. :)

Now, Jane is not one of those gals whom I see posting on my favorite blogs, so I didn't know anything peripheral about her. I played a game of hide and seek on her blog, stalking her digging for info so I could send her a good package. And she must have been doing the same thing over here, because the gal knows what I need!

So here's what I got (woowoo!):

(Lucy has a terrible need to groom herself on the blanket)

Top of the list is the cat blanket for Lucy Loo.
Lucy loooooooooves it. Seriously. Check out the video.
video


(And please excuse my narration there. I was both too close to the mic and still terribly sick, so I sound rather slurred and mannish)

We spritzed it with catnip spray, and she went nuts (usually, with catnip-smelling things, she just rolls on it twice and then walks away). As I type this, half an hour after taking those pics, she still hasn't moved from it. I think she's enamored of the fleecey feel, and the fact that it's hers.

(in mid ka-thump)

Her pupils are so tiny right now, and she's got this absolutely contented grin on her face. Since she totally ignores the cat bed that I bought her, I really appreciate now having a place for her to lie down, out of the way.

You know I love handmade stuff, and in addition to the cat blanket that she made for Lucy, she also made a peace-symbol scarf. Given our weather prediction for 4-9 inches of snow today and tomorrow, that's perfect timing! :D

And check this clever cheery idea! Fabric scraps (for quilting, I imagine, but I will be using them for baby clothes and fabric jewelry, muahahaha) with windmobiles in them! I haven't had windmobiles since I was a teeny tot....I love it! I'm going to put them in one of the gardens, for extra beauty and smiles. I can't wait!

I also got a lovely scented lotion (I go through lotion like crazy, handling paper and washing dishes). It's an ocean breeze scent, which is pretty much right up my mermaid alley. :)

There's a windsock tree spinner butterfly....perfect for Spring. Also perfect for the fact that I'll be entering into an outright war with the birds over our cherries in the front yard, and have been hanging spinners on the branches as often as I can. This one is beautiful, and will be both a thing that makes me smile to look at, and a deterrent to any birdies looking to steal my cherries. Plus, my neighbor's 3 year old absolutely adores butterflies, and I can't wait to see the look on her face when she sees it out there. :D
(I'll be putting it out in a week or two, after these crazy bad winds cease)


And she was so sweet and sent something for me to share with Scotsman.....moon pies! I had heard about these little treats, but never had one before. It's definitely a different kind of candy...like a soft smore, almost. Probably not the best lunch choice, but I'm willing to admit my weakness to new foods. :)
(And Scotsman says thank you!)


And look at the pretty daisy cookie cutter! I think Jane got me something for every one of my majori creative hobbies. :D
I just had a baking day last weekend with the neighbor, and despite having over a dozen bizarre cookie cutters, thanks to Scotsman's mom (including a saw, a church, an owl, and a rooster), I do not have any flower shapes. This will be really fun to use and then decorate (and gods help me, I am already imagining the sunny cake I will make, with fondant daisies cut with this cookie cutter!).


And, of course, the card made me giggle. It's two fat cats, in bikinis, sunning themselves. Adorable!

This swap definitely gave me a cheery bit of Spring, on a day when the temps are low and snow is imminent, and during a week when I've been frustratingly ill. Thanks, Brandy, for hosting it, and thanks, Jane, for being a fantastic swap partner! :D

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Body Issues

A recent blog post from a female author that I like pretty much summed up my lifelong body issues. The same issues we all have, men and women, skinny and fat, young and old. And someone commenting on the post (which, I admit, made me cry and nod repeatedly), posted a link to this comic.

And I read the comic and thought "yeah, that also summarizes it".

So, in case you need it (like I did): http://www.amptoons.com/blog/images/fat_monologue.pdf

It doesn't fix things, but it does help to know I'm not the only lost child in the woods.

New blog to follow!

(And this isn't a pity party post to elicit the usual awesome chickfriend responses of "you're gorgeous/not fat/etc etc". I appreciate the motive and gesture behind those responses, and sometimes they are needed, but this post is more just about airing it out than needing support. Thanks.)

Checking out for a bit

Just wanted to let you guys know that I skipped Musical Monday yesterday, Teaser Tuesday today, and may or may not post anything for the next few days.

While I'd like to say it's because I have a great new job, or am about to head out on vacation to an exotic locale, it's actually because I'm ill.

I got hit with a freight train of exhaustion, sore throat, and high fever sometime last night, and despite my attempts to get anything done or focus, I keep getting plagued with dizzy spells and extreme inability to focus on anything.

For now, I'm under the tender ministrations of Scotsman, trashy daytime TV, and endless cups of herbal tea.

On an unrelated note, I ordered 9 different kinds of veggie and herb seeds last night from Burpee, for our co-op garden. And I am very excited for this planting and growing and harvesting season. I'll be trying my hand at tomatoes and peppers, bok choy, rosemary and sage, leeks, and peas. Also, marigolds and cucumbers. And co-gardening lettuces, pumpkins, summer squash, and blueberries. And harvesting the cherries and blackberries already established on our property.

Any tips and suggestions on growing any of those is greatly appreciated (the pumpkin, summer squash, and lettuces are going in the ground, everything else will be grown in pots or a raised veggie bed). Thanks!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Adventures with Flat Mamarazzi

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My printer washed her out completely, so first I gave Flat Mamarazzi a bit of a makeover, including doing her nails (in gold, naturally).

We chatted Jane Austen while I worked.


The pub itself (Paddy Coyne's, in Tacoma) was very dark. How dark, you ask? Flat Mamarazzi and I could hardly see one another! Shame, really. We were also seated behind a wall from the band....and under a speaker, so talking was a moot point as well. And that meant, a lot of cider and singing with the band! I encouraged Flat Mamarazzi to try a sip of my Crispin.


Well, the tart finished it off and ordered herself a Magners after! That's ok, I didn't mind (I just stole Scotsman's instead). The quality of pictures gets a little ridiculous from here on out, as the lighting was simply horrid. 


My good friend and fellow ale wench, Scarlette, showed up with her new boy. She thought Flat Mamarazzi looked cute (thanks, babe!).


Some members of the band, on break, were a little distracted to notice Flat Mamarazzi. ;)


Everyone got a little cuddly. That is the power of BOWI when they play for three hours. Flat Mamarazzi and I wondered where those handsy Twilight boys were this evening. I was totally prepared to wingwoman for her, but to be honest, she's sassy enough to handle herself.



Finally, at 1am (we were both exhausted), the band ended their set and packed up to go. Flat Mamarazzi tried to jump in and get a picture with the band, but they sprang into action so quickly that we only got this lovely shot with Tony's mandolin there (and Scotsman). 

I think she had a good time, though I feel a little guilty that it wasn't as girly-fun as I had hoped for. We're already plotting the next outing, which may in fact be a party at my place. I offered to take her camping but...well, she's not really dressed for it! 

Thanks, Flat Mamarazzi, for letting me keep you out uber-late for a night of celtic music and pub fare.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Baby Mobile

I got a wild hair to make a baby mobile for my friend's soon-to-be-born son. I had all these leftover scraps of fabric with animals and such on them, and for some reason I thought "mobile!".

Before I unveil it, and how I made it, it bears saying that I am not a spatial thinker. Nor do I have a mobile on hand to reverse-engineer. I simple made it up, from memory and my crazy Virgo common sense.

What I used:
  • One 1/4" thin wooden dowel
  • 6 fabric pieces of patterns/animals
  • 6 plain color fabric pieces (as backing)
  • 6 pieces of lightweight cardboard
  • Ribbon for attaching
  • Hot glue gun

  1. First, I cut out my fabric animal pieces. This is what I had: two octopi, a whale, some monkeys with bananas, a bunch of grapes, and a cupcake. Diverse, yet delicious! ;)
  2. (I am insane. These are fleece, wool, and two different weights of cotton)
  3. And then I cut out the same size of lightweight cardboard as 'interfacing'.
  4. (Octopus, sans garden)
  5. I glued the fabric to the cardboard. I would recommend using fabric glue do you don't have huge dark spots showing through the fabric. But I'm poor, and used what we had on hand.
  6. (glue spiral on the cardboard...thanks, USPS!)
  7. I measured the dowel into three equal-length segments. I wanted to have the top piece be a solo dowel, and the bottom piece be two dowels glued together as an X.
  8. (measuring the wood)
  9. I used a hot glue gun, though if I'd notched the wood to fit together more snuggly it would have worked much better. It's sort of bulky now (which I tried to cover with ribbon). I also used hot glue to make a 'cap' on the ends of each dowel, as I don't have a tool to smooth the wood and get rid of splinters.
  10. (cutting the dowel into three pieces...gee, I wish I had a Dremmel!)
  11. I mounted the plain fabric to the back of each animal mobile piece, so no matter where they turn the baby has something interesting to look at. In a stroke of awesome, I made a bunch of monkeys have their own vignette against a backdrop. 
  12. (monkeys against a background of brown felt)
  13. I used ribbon to attach the top solo dowel (wrapped in a gauzy ribbon) to the bottom glued dowel X.
  14. (the brown ribbon is from their wedding. I KNEW it'd come in handy someday!)
  15. I cut holes in the two lightweight pieces, and threaded a ribbon through them, tying once at the mobile piece, and once at the dowel. These are more 'window dressing' than mobile pieces.
  16. (top piece, with 'end cap' fabric pieces)
  17. And then I hot glued the ribbon to the other pieces, sandwiched between the backing fabric and the cardboard, and to the dowel (wrapped once and glued, for stability). It's fairly ghetto, and not as cool as I imagined, but it was a quick and fun little craft. 
  18. (tada! Mobile...and thermostat)

If I did it over again, I would make each mobile animal a small stuffed animal/pillow, rather than a flat piece. I think the three dimensionality with be more appealing, and they could be a touchable stimulus that way, instead of a potentially highly-breakable one.

I'd also probably use wire hangers instead of dowels...or at least thinner dowels.

And weight things for evenness before making. My mobile is a bit lopsided.

And use the same type of fabric for each piece (see above).

But I'm hoping they're still happy with it, perhaps as the 'travel mobile', or the one you put over the baby's changing table to distract him.