26 February 2010

Friday 5: Comparisons

I get to compare myself to others this week. We'll see how this goes...

1) What’s something you do more quickly than most people?
Standardized tests for sure - I kind of fly through those.  That, and I tend to learn information and retain it at a pretty high level as well.

2) What’s something you do more carelessly than most people?
Talk.  I think I briefly covered this last week, but I frequently speak without really thinking about it.  As if my opinion matters 100% at that very moment.  It's off-putting for a lot of people - especially when I say something sarcastic or borderline offensive.  I really should check myself, but I don't.  Whoops!

3) What’s something you do more slowly than most people?
I eat pretty slow - especially with taco salad.  I'm pretty much always the last to leave the table.  It's driven my parents nuts for years.

4) What’s something you do more carefully than most people?
Write.  I'm quite critical of my writing.  I try to write how I talk, but it doesn't always work out that way, and I agonize over every word.  As a result, my writing (and text messaging!) is full of ellipses (...) and dashes.

5) In what contexts are you more patient than most people?
I'm pretty patient when it comes to people in general.  I do my best to, at the very least, tolerate everyone.  Comes in handy when I'm doing customer service, though in that case, I do have a tendancy to snap after a while.  But I snap in private.

You all can't tell, but these took a while to answer!  I don't often compare myself to others, so this was a very interesting, introspective and fun week!

Take a look at my Etsy team's blog at HandmadeMN.com - all local artists, and I'm soon to become a contributing writer!  Watch for my first article sometime this week.

Stay tuned for more - another week, another 5.

22 February 2010

Closing the shutters... for now.

After careful consideration, I've decided to put my Etsy shop in Vacation Mode for a little while.

I've been a frustrated and nearly unsuccessful seller on Etsy for about a year now, and it's time for me to reevaluate my shop strategies.  I have such varied tastes and talents that it seems almost wasteful to not find more ways to expand outside of Etsy, but at the same time, it's nice to have an outlet for my creativity and for a destash of my projects.

I feel like I may be disappointing some folks by nailing up the clapboards for a time, but rest assured: I am still taking Alchemy requests.  I am still bidding on Alchemy posts.  I am working on personal projects as well, and have a wealth of things I'd like to add to my repertoire.  Here's the current list:
  • I just finished my first "Strategic Sweetheart" corset last night, inspired by TacticalCorsets.com's collection.  Lace-up back, zip-up front, button pockets.  'Twill be tested this weekend at the Ari Herstand DVD Release concert at the Fine Line!  Pictures to follow!
  • I inherited a wealth of jeans and khakis from my roommate, since she's been granted the gift of hips from her baby daughter.  The current plan is to turn them into "map bags" - the dwarf cousin of the messenger bag.
  • I'd love to turn my "Bridesmaid Survival Bag" into an item on Etsy, but for now, I'll leave it until the series is complete.
  • Not to mention bridesmaid, groomsmen, bride, groom, and newlywed gifts!
  • I'm still in the testing phase when it comes to recycled products, but I am going to have an entry in the HandmadeMN March "Go Green" Challenge!  More to follow in a blog post; I'm really excited about the results so far.
  • I also have this pipe dream of destashing my old fabric strips from my grandmother's quilting projects into kitschy decorative wreaths for all seasons.  We'll see where that takes me.
If any of you folks have suggestions for me for future ventures, I'd love to hear them! 

19 February 2010


About four months ago, I decided I'd get back in shape, so I got a membership at the Jewish Community Center near my apartment.  Of course, this led to me being a homebody and not really exercising for the next few months, and keeping the membership anyway.  Not recommended, folks.  With Lent upon me, and my sister's wedding approaching, I've decided to actually use the membership.  I went swimming a few times when I first joined, but I'm now looking into alternative things to do.  I'm a really efficient swimmer, so it's not really a workout if I'm just there by myself.  This equals me, clueless, in the Fitness Center, staring at a bunch of equipment and not knowing what to do.  However, I've gone now twice this week.  My abs hurt like HELL thanks to exercises I remember from the swim team, and my arms are a little achey from the rowing machine.  I'm a fan of the rowing machine (and am doubling my current workout as a result), and of walking as a warm-up and cool-down (yesterday I went a mile to start and a half mile to finish out the day).  I'm planning on starting Krav Maga on Monday.  If you're wondering what that is, I'll give you the quote from Future Ted on How I Met Your Mother: "Krav Maga is not a form of yoga. It's a form of guerrilla street fighting developed by the Israeli Army."  Which means it's mad cool, and I can't wait to start.

I am realizing though that it's really boring to just be in there by myself with no one to work out with, and nothing to listen to.  Which brings me to the point of this entry: workout music.  When I was on the swim team, we had CDs that played our favorite "pump-up" songs.  I took it for granted, and now I need to build up a new playlist.  So here goes... my new pump-up songs.  A few classics, a few mainstays, and a few new ones.  With a few notes.  Am I missing anything?

Don't Get Killed - Andy Breckman
The Last Saskatchewan Pirate - Arrogant Worms
Alcoholics Unanimous - Art Brut
The Boys of Summer - The Ataris (or Don Henley)
Dota - Basshunter
Ticket to Ride - The Beatles
Poison - Bell Biv Devoe
The Blues are Still Blue - Belle and Sebastian
Rockin' the Suburbs - Ben Folds Five
Song for the Dumped - Ben Folds Five
Why Should I Worry? - Billy Joel (from Oliver and Company)
I Like the Way You Move - Bodyrockers
You Give Love a Bad Name - Bon Jovi (duh, as far as pump-up or get psyched songs go, this one is full of win.)
Girl All the Bad Guys Want - Bowling for Soup
Short Skirt, Long Jacket - Cake
Wheels - Cake
Does Anybody Really Know What Time it Is? - Chicago
Take Your Sweet Time - Chooglin'
Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger - Daft Punk
The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid - The Decemberists
Boyz-N-the-Hood - Dynamite Hack
September - Earth, Wind & Fire
Got to Get You Into My Life - Earth, Wind & Fire
40 Day Dream - Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes
The Final Countdown - Europe
Dance Dance - Fall Out Boy
Sugar We're Going Down - Fall Out Boy
Hot Lunch Jam - Fame
Big Bang Bionic - Freekbass
Get it Go - Freekbass
Junkyard Waltz - Freekbass
Twilight Zone - Freekbass
Crazy - Gnarls Barkley
Lordy Lordy - Heatbox
Too Much Food - Jason Mraz (from Tonight, Not Again; featuring John Popper)
The Dynamo of Volition - Jason Mraz
Make it Mine - Jason Mraz
Bad Reputation - Joan Jett
83 - John Mayer
Olympic Theme Song - John Williams
Don't Stop Believing - Journey
Carry On My Wayward Son - Kansas
Walk Away - Kelly Clarkson  (don't judge me...)
Danger Zone - Kenny Loggins
Movin' Right Along - The Muppets, from the Muppet Movie
Girl on TV - LFO (seriously, please don't judge me.)
Summer Girls - LFO
We Like Sportz - The Lonely Island
Natalie's Rap - The lonely Island
I'm On a Boat - The Lonely Island
Airport Surroundings - Loney Dear
The Potion - Ludacris
You Just Got Slapped - Marshall (from How I Met Your Mother... I also need Let's Go to the Mall)
Help I'm Alive - Metric
Smooth Criminal - Michael Jackson
Love Today - Mika
Brand New Day - Neil Patrick Harris, from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
City on Down - O.A.R.
Hey Ya! - Outkast
Misery Business - Paramore
Where Is My Mind? - The Pixies
Underdog - The Profits (this band no longer exists... but their music for damn sure does.)
Space Jam (Yeah, I went there)
I Want to Break Free - Queen
We Will Rock You / We Are the Champions - Queen
Another One Bites the Dust - Queen
Sledgehammer - Peter Gabriel
Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? - Rockapella
Tapestry - Roster McCabe
Fever - Sarah Vaughan, Adam Freeland Remix from Verve Remixed
F.N.T - Semisonic
Murder on the Dance Floor - Sophie Ellis Bexter
Edge of Seventeen - Stevie Nicks
Kick Some Ass - Stroke 9
Make Damn Sure - Taking Back Sunday
How Bad Do You Want It? - Tim McGraw
Battle Without Honor or Humanity -Tomoyasu Hotel (used prolifically in Kill Bill)
We're Not Gonna Take It - Twised Sister
Girl, You Really Got Me Now - Van Halen
75 and 17 - We The Living
Here I Go Again - Whitesnake
Miami - Will Smith
Dirt off Your Shoulder/Lying from You - Jay-Z/Linkin Park Collision Course
Big Pimpin'/Papercut - Jay-Z/Linkin Park Collision Course
Try - John Mayer Trio
America, Fuck Yeah - from Team America
See-Line Woman - Nina Simone, remixed on Verve Remixed
The Boy's Don' It - Hugh Masekela, remized on Verve Remixed

Apparently, this is over five and a half hours of music.  Not enough, I'll wager.  So folks - what am I missing?

Friday 5 for February 19: Rules

Here we go! This week's Friday 5: Rules

1) Be honest: what are some rules you have for yourself that don’t really make much sense?
I always give people a second chance, no matter how they've wronged me in the past.  Chances are, they wrong me again.  It's a vicious cycle of betrayal, and I'm constantly open to it.

2) What rules of questionable sense did your parents have for you when you were young?
They didn't ground us.  Offering the "we're not going to ground our children" thing as a discipline tool really only worked one-third of the time.  Sorry, guys, but it's true.

3) What’s a rule most people (if not all people) seem never to obey?
Think before you speak.  I'm guilty of it, too, and it has gotten me into trouble.  But we live in a world where everything's expected to be instant; if you don't want to know, don't ask.

4) There are no rules governing the giving and receiving of Valentine’s Day gifts, but what rules should there be?
Two gifts must be purchased at Valentine's Day - one to be distributed on or near February 14th, and one to be distributed at a random point sometime during the year.  (That is to say: buy two things, and save one for when you need to apologize.)

5) If the Golden Rule says you should do unto others as you’d have others do unto you, what would the Silver and Bronze rules say?
I think I'll pull the Silver rule from an episode of Bones.  Booth's kid, Parker, keeps getting beat up by a girl, but he doesn't fight back because his dad taught him not to hit a girl.  He amends this teaching, and updates Bones: "I told him to walk away if it’s for himself, and to stand up and fight if it’s for someone else." (Season 4, "The Finger in the Nest")  Very good Silver Rule.
As for Bronze, I'll refer to #3 and say "Think before you speak."

And there you have it - another week, another 5.

12 February 2010

The Friday 5: Warmth

That,s right; on time this week! Back on track. This week's topic is warmth - something we do not take for granted here in the great state of Minnesota. For serious - I always take a blanket with me wherever I go.

1) What is your favorite blanket like?
I have a blanket in my room that's relatively small and nondescript, but I made it with my own hands during a time of great stress and pain, and it gives me a lot of comfort.  It's a greenish blue aran-style blanket crocheted with a ripple pattern.  It's the perfect size to cover my shoulders when I'm reading in bed.  I started it at an orchestra concert, and made most of it while my grandmother was dying of cancer, and in the aftermath of that.  Seeing me work on it help to comfort my cousins, too, and since, a few of them have learned to crochet.

2) What was the last thing you baked?
Technically, I baked my dinner last night - dinosaur chicken nuggets and tater tots - but I don't really consider that "baking."  I made a batch of monster cookies a couple of weeks ago; I'm trying to perfect the recipe.  I think the secret is using pumpkin, and I'll have to try that next.

3) What television personality gets you most hot and bothered?
Jay Leno.  Man, I hate that guy.  Even before all of the crap his actions have put Conan O'Brien through.  He's not a funny comedian, and he's really condescending to his guests, and to the audience.  I haven't ever been able to watch his show without changing the channel after about five minutes.  The only times he's tolerable are when he's talking about his cars - I love classic cars, and he's really honest and real when he talks about them.  It's refreshing.  But any other time - ugh.

4) When did you last burn yourself?
I think I burned myself sometime this week - I just don't know when!  And every time I turn on the water in my bathroom, my hot water burns me a little.  It'd be nice to have some variable temperature control, but not so much, I guess.

5) What are your feelings about hot sauce?
Eh.  Don't really like it.  But cooking with it makes up for it being boring - especially when making Chinese food.  I'm a fan of Szechuan!

There you have it - another week, another five!

10 February 2010

Article of the Week: Earthshake Chicago, Bob Collins' Billboard, Captain Phil Harris and Angry Norweigans in Scuba Gear

I guess it's been a big news day out there.

My people in Chicago tell me that there was an earthquake.  Some of them woke up, some didn't even notice, but it ranked a 3.8.  Kind of an interesting thing; there's been a lot of tectonic activity in this hemisphere recently (in case you hadn't noticed), so I'm thinking those volcanoes over in the Pacific Northwest are due.  Would be an interesting addition to the Olympics, to be sure!

The wonderful Bob Collins of Minnesota Public Radio has become an internet sensation for posting a picture of a billboard in Wyoming, MN, up on the NewsCut blog.  All it is is a billboard with a picture of George H. W. B., and text reading "Miss me yet?"  I guess it's gone viral and shown up on aircraft carriers already.  There's a caption contest up on the Huffington Post.  FoxNews even contacted him about it.  But really - it's just a billboard, people.

In sadder news, I heard this morning on KFAN and via Facebook and Twitter that Captain Phil Harris of the Cornelia Marie died yesterday after suffering a stroke on 30 January.  Captain Harris and his sons, Jake and Josh, were certainly a few of my favorites to watch on Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch."  Though, after Phil's heart problems last year, I'll admit, I was certainly worried about his health and, it appeared, so were his sons and the rest of the crew.  My thoughts go out to the Harris boys, the crew of the Cornelia Marie, and the other captains in the fleet.

Also, I don't have much to say about this one, but some new aerial photography of the 9/11 attacks is now available.  The pictures really speak for themselves.  See the ABCNews slideshow here.

With all of this happening in the world, you'd think my morning'd be full, right?  Full of work, full of reading the news.  Not so this morning.  Today, I spent a chunk of time investigating BoingBoing.net's story about Angry Norweigans in SCUBA gear chasing down the Google Street View car.  Apparently, these two chaps knew their friend would be driving the car, and knew roughly when he'd be passing through.  So they donned their gear (sans BC and tank, but with mask, reg and fins) and waited in a pair of lawn chairs for the car to pass, at which point, they chased it down the street with tridents.  Don't believe me?  I did the legwork on this for you already.  Here goes!

View Larger Map
Scroll a bit to the north for this one - to the left of the screen.

View Larger Map

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View Larger Map

It goes on for a bit, but it looks like they get tired quick. I would, too, if I were running in a semi-dry with ankle weights!

09 February 2010

Bridesmaid's Emergency Kit, Part One

Well, as most of you know, the story of my life runs much like the premise of the movie 27 Dresses - always a bridesmaid, not yet a bride.  In fact, I received 27 Dresses as a Christmas gift this year from my sister's fiance.  He thought it was ironic.  The really ironic part is that my college roommate had just announced her engagement to me that morning.

In my travels, I have learned the following: you never know what's going to happen.  It's cliche, but cliches are cliches for a reason.  Sometimes they're true.  In perusing different bridesmaid and wedding help guides, most notably The Bridesmaid Guide by Kate Chynoweth, and Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Weddings by Joshua Piven, Sarah Jordan and David Borgenicht, and through my own personal experience, I have learned that there's always a few things you need to have on hand... just in case.  And the real challenge?  Fitting it all in a tiny purse.

This is the first in a several-part series, in which I plan a "survival kit" that should fit into a smallish clutch purse.  I will assemble the kit, make the purse, and bring it with me to a wedding to see how it goes.  Not an impossible feat.  I hope.

And so, in no particular order:

Item 1: Safety Pins.
As a crafter, I am rarely without them.  Ask my dad's cousin, Lizzy, whose dress back burst asunder between the ceremony and reception!  I had some safety pins in my purse and managed to get the dress cobbled back together before the dancing portion of the evening.  They're also handy for tacking dresses to bras and fixing corsages.

Item 2: Listerine Pocket Packs, Breath Spray, or Gum.
The reason for this one is, hopefully, obvious.  After a day of drinking coffee and eating catered sandwiches and, having woken up at 6 AM to do hair, no bridesmaid's breath is going to be perfect.  Keep it fresh - especially at the key times during the ceremony and reception.

Item 3: Bobby Pins.
For obvious reasons, not the least of which being giving to a younger cousin so he can try to break into the girl's bathroom.

Item 4: Small Mending Kit.
In case of rips, tears, or catastrophic dress problems.  Really, only three colors of thread are needed: white, black, and whatever the bridesmaid dresses are.  However, if you have a season full of weddings, white, black and clear nylon will work in most situations.  Also handy is a multi-purpose needle, a small scissors, some spare buttons (again, white, black or neutral), a seam ripper, and some double-sided hem tape.  In Girl Scouts, Juniors I think, we made mending kits that fit in film canisters.  (Remember film canisters?)  Kept the needles and pins in place without worrying about having a pincushion.

Item 5: Dress-Tacking Double-Sided Tape.
Avoid wardrobe malfunctions.  Tape your strapless dress to your person.

Item 6: Super Glue.
Because you just never know.

Item 7: Band-Aids.
Good for uncomfortable shoes, accidents, paper cuts, and destructive family members.

Item 8: Hairspray.
Hair has to last a long time, but just for the night.  That's why they make tiny bottles.  Well, that, and air travel.

Item 9: Stain Remover.
You can just ask my friend Jacquie about this one; I'm going to hell for what I did at that wedding.  I played my flute in the choir, and didn't eat much before the ceremony due to practicing.  When they opened the doors to the reception hall, there was a cocktail hour featuring wine.  There was a hug between myself and the bride, and a spilled glass of merlot.  Make sure you have stain remover or access to club soda.  In a pinch, Sprite can also lessen the severity of a stain.  Trust me.  There is a special guilt you feel when you destroy a wedding gown.  Don't.

Item 10: Lotion and/or Hand Sanitizer.
There's a lot of people at weddings, a lot of things to hold, a lot of food, and a lot of dancing with awkward relatives.  Stay fresh, and keep your skin moisturized.

Item 11: Make-Up Kit.
I'm not a high-maintenance girl, but when I want to look good, I want to look GOOD and there's a few small things I carry.  Waterproof mascara for sure - it's easy and compact, and will survive even the most tearjerking ceremony if you get the right kind.  A small one-off thing of eye shadow is good to have on hand - I have a 2-color, and I use my finger instead of a brush to apply it.  I also have a few different colors of cream eyeshadow that I use as an overlay.  It helps to keep the make-up going for a long time.  Also keep a tube of lipstick, chap stick or the happy medium: tinted Burt's Bees.  And to make sure, keep a hand mirror with you.  Sometimes an empty corner is easier to find than an empty bathroom.

Item 12: Clear Nail Polish.
Good for fixing broken nails, chipped manicures, runs in nylons, and bored flower girls.

Item 13: A Deck of Cards.
Not an absolute necessity, but good for those lengthy cocktail hours, or times you're waiting while the photographer works their magic.  It's also good to just keep a throwaway deck to hand off to bad dancers and wallflowers - then they have a reason to stay off the dance floor, and will hold you in some regard.

Item 14: Deoderant.
Or no one will want to dance with you except those chaps you just gave the deck of cards to.  And nobody wants that.

Item 15: Pain Killers and Multi-Vitamins.
Recommend acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) for aches, pains, and the father-of-the-bride.  Recommend multi-vitamins to avoid hangover.

Item 16: Tissues.
Carry these anywhere you can.  At my friend KJ's wedding, I cautiously stuffed a few between my bra and the dress (it was a halter; there was some space).  This came in handy when the groom got all weepy-eyed during the ceremony.  It did make it a little awkward for my family in the congregation to see me reach into my dress for supplies, but I didn't mind it one bit.  No one's eyes should have been on me, anyway.

Item 17: Requisite Identification and Personal Necessities.
This includes your driver's license, cell phone, car keys, hotel room key, directions or maps, sunglasses, and especially lady-related items.  Also included in here is your disgretion: if you're a smoker, obviously, cigarettes or nicotene gum here (personally, I'd hope for the gum); if you're a sports fan and there's a big game, an mp3 player with a radio tuner and a set of headphones or a tiny speaker are the obvious choice; if you want your own pictures, you'll probably want your camera in there.

The next order of business will be assembling the kit - getting all of the items together and organizing them.

I've placed an order with an Etsy seller to get the parts I need to create a small clutch purse for this kit!  More on that once I've started working - I might even post a tutorial!

08 February 2010

Back in the saddle!

Or office chair, as it were.

And you know what that means: more blog posting!

One of the things I've noticed during my month long "sabbatical" (the word I'll be using for my period of unemployment, since I'm working at the same place... they didn't even wipe my computer!), is that, when I have nothing to do, I'm not great at making myself find something to do.  I'm a pathologically unmotivated person.  I'd really love to fix it, but that would mean effort.

When I'm busy, I love being REALLY busy.  Like now.  I'm at work.  We've run out of work to do (go figure - welcome back Maggie!  Now sit there and do nothing.), so I'm blogging.  I'm updating my Etsy.  I'll be getting the paperwork ready for my Schedule C so I have my BodiceGoddess Costuming and Alterations business covered as far as taxes go.  I'm looking forward to going home so I can get started on my entry for the "Go Green!" Handmade MN March challenge.  I'm planning in my head which Etsy projects I'll work on next, and mentally setting up my sewing machine again.

The problem, however, is this: when I get home, I doubt I'll start on my "Go Green!" project, beyond organizing what I have so far.  In fact, I'll probably settle in to the comfy, comfy couch with Illyanna (my "tiny roommate" - I live with a family of three, and Illy is three months old), play for a little while, and eventually nap before the new episode of How I Met Your Mother comes on.  I have a lot of ideas and a lot of plans, but trouble executing them.

Does anyone out there have some ideas for me?  What motivates you?  And what should be motivating me?

05 February 2010

The Friday 5: Fried Day 5

Here we go again!

1) When you come home from a long day of whatever it is you do and your brain is totally fried, what therapy do you normally seek?
Napping in front of the television is the best kind of therapy that exists.

2) Of the myriad of desserts made primarily of fried dough, what is your favorite?
Honestly, not really a fan unless I'm at a Chinese restaurant, or I'm at the Minnesota State Fair.  Then, it's sugar donuts and deepfried candy bars, respectively.

3) Most fried foods are best right out of the fryer, but what’s a fried food that you enjoy cold?
The Monte Cristo.  See below.  When they're hot, you really can only eat half of it.

4) What’s the most unusual deep-fried food you’ve ever tried?
The Monte Cristo.  It's a ham and cheese sandwich.  Dipped in batter.  Deep-fried.  And dipped in strawberry topping.  It's pretty much the most fantastic thing on the planet.  And you really can only eat half at a time.

5) Where can you get really good French fries?
Wendy's, the Minnesota State Fair, or, up until a couple of years ago, "Minnesota Picnic" at the Mall of America.
And there you have it!  Another week, another 5!