Friday, August 31, 2007

Bagpipe Boogie

Nothing makes me want to boogie more than bagpipe music from the Songs of Britain and Ireland show on WCPN 90.3.

Who knew she knew how to pump?

Guys and Toddlers

The official lyrics from Guys and Dolls (featuring Adelaide and the Hot Box dancers):
I love you a bushel and a peck
A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck
Hug around the neck and a barrel and a heap
Barrel and a heap and I'm talking in my sleep about you
About you?
About you
My heart is leaping, I'm having trouble sleeping
Cause I love you a bushel and a peck
You bet your pretty neck I do
Doodle-oodle-oodle, doodle-oodle-oodle, a-doodle-oodle-oodle-oo.

I love you a bushel and a peck
A bushel and a peck and it beats me all to heck
Beats me all to heck how I'll ever tend the farm
Ever tend the farm when I wanna keep my arms about you
About you?
About you
The cows and chickens are going to the dickens
Cause I love you a bushel and a peck
You bet your pretty neck I do
Doodle-oodle-oodle, doodle-oodle-oodle, a-doodle-oodle-oodle-oo.

A picture is worth ...

Three pee accidents, one poop accident, but she stayed clean and dry from about 10:30 until 7pm, including her nap, which is like a major miracle. And, oh yeah, she pooped on the potty and got her toenails painted as a reward. Next up: fingernails.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Progress, of a sort

Wednesday: three pee accidents (all near mealtime or when she was very tired), two poop accidents (both at the time she normally goes, but she refused to go to the potty until it was too late)

Thursday: one pee accident (at lunchtime ... maybe tomorrow we'll just eat on the potty!), one poop accident (at the time she normally goes, and she told me she wanted a diaper and I wouldn't give her one, and right after she pooped she ran over to the potty, so I think we may be getting somewhere)

Approximate number of times I have said, "Remember what Elmo says in the game - you need to listen to your body, and when your body feels like you have to go to the bathroom, you should stop what you're doing and go to the bathroom. Do you feel like you have to pee or poop?" 140,592. On Thursday. I'm thinking of recording myself on a digital memo player so I just have to hit a button to say it again. And again. And again.

Progression of bribes:
Sitting on the potty: a checkmark on her hand
Peeing on the potty: two M&Ms, which she usually forgets anyway
Staying dry all morning or afternoon: temporary tattoo
Pooping on potty: temporary tattoo AND I promised to paint her toenails hot pink, which apparently is the Holy Grail of toddler rewards, at least as far as she's concerned.

What I've been doing while watching television

Zombie Bunnies!
Pattern now available on my other blog.

And coming soon ... a free pattern to make the Basket o' Entrails to go with the bunnies!

Best $20 I ever spent

It just goes to show that if you covet a playhouse your neighbor has stuffed in a pile behind his back shed, you should offer to take it off his hands if he ever decides to get rid of it. These things cost $150 used on Craig's List (and even then, they're missing parts), and all I have to do is hose this one down and find a level place to set it up so I can make sure the walls actually connect so it doesn't crush Rapunzel here under 200 pounds of blow-molded plastic.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Thank you for the dress, Grandma

Gotta love it when you totally deconstruct a dress to make a pattern from it, combine that with sale fabric from JoAnn's, and end up with a new dress for like $6. The only thing better: convincing my mother to do it for me. So how are you coming on the denim version, Mom?
This marks the first time I've been able to actually pose the kid, as in, "put your hand on the slide. No, the other one. Okay, get your other finger out of your nose. That one, too. Stop lifting up your skirt. Look, can you just put that hand on your tummy? Your tummy. No, dude, your tummy - right here." If only I could have gotten "stop pooching out your stomach" to penetrate the layers of her brain, we'd be golden.

And I believe this shot was the smile I got for, "Say, 'vomitus maximus!'"

I find it mind-boggling ...

... that a two-year-old can concentrate so hard on the act of, say, running down the driveway, that the first sign they receive that they need to poop occurs when a tennis-ball-sized chunk of it falls out the back of their shorts onto the driveway. A little self-awareness goes a long way, is all I'm saying.

Also, note to self: When potty training, avoid locations with fountains. We're two for two on leaving puddles behind at the Chinese restaurant lobby and next to the koi pond at PetSmart.

Monday, August 27, 2007


I've learned a lot from the neighbor who lives across our back fence. I've learned that the raccoon we've seen once or twice in our yard lives in the fruit tree in his yard, and the skunk we smell occasionally used to live under our shed, but the previous owners filled it in so the skunk moved two yards down under a much larger, less gravel-filled shed. And the woodchuck that's been leaving bitemarks on the mushrooms in our yard lives under our next-door neighbors' deck.

This last bit of information I confirmed independently when I saw the little bugger twice in the past week. Both times it was in the neighbors' yard, and both times it ended up making a break for the deck when it heard something threatening (like a 2-year-old with a golf club headed in its general direction).

Woodchucks moving at top speed aren't something I get to see up close too frequently - usually they're just standing by the side of the highway as I whizz by at high speeds. But watching this one up close ... okay, from 30 yards away ... has given me the insight that woodchucks must be distantly related to flying squirrels. They have so much flabby skin between their forelegs and hindlegs that they don't run, scamper, or scurry - they flollop. It's a speedy flollop, but a flollop nonetheless.

When I mentioned this to one of the contractors who was checking out my kitchen, he wasn't familiar with the word, and I realized that this was yet another pseudo-word in my vocabulary. In this case, it's a Douglas Adams creation, from Life, the Universe and Everything*:

It was a large mattress, and probably one of quite high quality. Very few things actually get manufactured these days, because in an infinitely large Universe such as, for instance, the one in which we live, most things one could possibly imagine and a lot of things one would rather not, grow somewhere.... [Mattresses] are large, friendly, pocket-sprung creatures that live quite private lives in the marshes of Sqornshellous Zeta. Many of them get caught, slaughtered, dried out, shipped out and slept on. None of them seems to mind this and all of them are called Zem. ... The mattress flolloped around. This is a thing that only live mattresses in swamps are able to do, which is why the word is not in common usage. It flolloped in a sympathetic sort of way, moving a fair-sized body of water as it did so.

Another Adams-ism that I use with alarming frequency is "dongle." As in, "That outlet has to have an $8 child-proof cover instead of the little olastic plug, because the stupid DustBuster power cord has a dongle on the end of it."

Some words that I use all the time I actually didn't know were made-up, at least until I married Jason and found out that "kaslonchwise" isn't a generally accepted term meaning "out of alignment," as in, 'Crap, I the cabinet door is hanging kaslonchwise again.'

Some of the uncommon words in my vocabulary come from friends ("schlick - to use a flexible device such as a spatula or finger to get every last bit of ice cream or other food out of a container," as in, "Can I schlick the pudding spoon?") and family ("spinkle," which is what my cousin did as a 3-year-old when trying to apply colored sugar to cookies ... 'spinkle, spinkle, spinkle!').

A few have found their way into common slang, such as (follow links at your own risk - Urban Dictionary is not exactly a clean site, but at least there's no porn) 'ginormous,' 'skeezy,' 'gigundous,' and 'bajillion.' Other definitions that I'll let you look up for yourself: flump, squidgy, futz, wifty, thingus, kludge, and a really bad definition of "skeezix" that I may hold against my mother forever.

And, of course, I know a few pseudo-words that I refuse to use on general principles. Such as "hork," a friend's term for gulping down large quantities of food in a short time. Sorry, Wendlings, the proper term is "snarf," and the folks at Urban Dictionary back me up, at least if you count the number of definitions that match mine for each word. And there are only a handful of people in the world who understand that "rax" is an extremely uncommon word for "what you feel like doing after eating at a Rax restaurant."

I still have a few words that are my own, including such wonders as "murph" - what you say when you are frustrated/pissed/tired/grumpy and can't explain why, usually growled while collapsing on soft furniture with alcohol and/or chocolate in hand, as in "She didn't take a nap today. Murph." Oh, and "betweeners" are the sheets of tissue paper that come stacked between business cards ... you look really dorky if you don't remove the betweeners before you hand out cards. Ootzle means "squish" or "squeeze," as in "I think there's enough room for you to ootzle behind me." And "kaslonchwise," which I inherited from my parents but use frequently enough to claim as my own.

And in case you're wondering, I didn't come up with all of these off the top of my head. I'm just dorky enough that I started collecting the pseudo-words a few years ago, an they're on an index card on my bulletin board. Yep, I'm just that dorky.

*I had to flip through 350 pages of The More Than Complete Hitchhiker's Guide to find the citation. I have a lot of time on my hands, apparently, and nothing better to do than find citations for words that don't exist to post on a blog that a handful of people read. Procrastination is sooooo much fun!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Pardon the interruption

Mommmmmmmmyyyyyyyyy! Moooooooooommmyyyyyy! Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!
Liza poop! Liza poooooooooooop!
Liza pooooooooop on leeeeeeeeggggggggg! Aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!
That's okaaaaaaaayyy! Everybody has acci- acca- ackadents!!!!
Liza pooooooop! That's okaaaaay! Aaaaaaaaahhhh!

Diaper off, pajama pants off, kneeling on the bench in front of her vanity, she had, indeed, pooped on her leg. And the bench. And the floor. At 9:45pm. Sigh.

Kitchen design, v. 2.0

After our discussion with Mary from Design Tech, here's our current favorite design. Lacks any seating in the kitchen, but it's wide open, and not only can I fit my fancy pantry AND a pot-and-pan drawer AND a built-in trashcan, I can keep my dishes and Tupperware in nifty drawers in the "base cooking center" right next to my dishwasher. Oh, how I want the base cooking center. And the pantry. And a trashcan I won't trip over four times a day.

In other news, I finished the curtains to cover up the storage cubbies above the closets in our bedroom, and I got all the hardware on the closet doors. Here's the before and after:
I'm especially proud of the little decorations on each of the closet doors. When we pulled off the dummy doorknobs the previous owners had installed, it turned out to be practically impossible to patch the holes invisibly. Since I wanted to install smaller knobs to match the hardware on the drawers, I had to come up with some way to cover up the holes. Solution: a couple of those carved wooden decorations they sell at Home Depot, a can of leftover hammertone spraypaint Jason snatched from work, and a couple of really long screws to attach the knobs through 2 1/2" of door and decoration. Voila! They sort of look like they belong!

Next up: finishing the Cabinet of Mature Content. Again. Can anyone say, "forget the veneer, I'm sanding the filler smooth and painting that sucker"? I know I can.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sign it's not a good day

Grocery list:
cold medicine
toilet paper

Oh dear, my eBay listings are never this good

Maybe I need to start doing something like this with my lots of baby clothes. Heck, if she can get $150 for a pack of Pokemon cards, I ought to be pulling in four figures for Hanna Andersson outfits, right?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My Dad at the cottage in Cape May - then and now

When I was in college (top)
Last September (bottom)
Look for more scintillating action shots of my father reading after our Cape May vacation this September!

I swear, he's as regular as Leap Year

He's threatening to grow a beard again, folks. I had him for a while - people who work in jobs that require respirators (even occasionally) aren't allowed to grow any sort of facial hair because it interferes with the seal. But now that he's a manager in the paint brush and roller cover (and ridiculously expensive but really nice dropcloth) division, he doesn't have to wear a respirator. Ever.


So before things get out of hand, I'd just like to remind the world why my husband, Jason T. Woods, should not grow a beard.
That is, he's got weird bald spots, and he never trims it so he ends up looking like Marty Stouffer, that guy who used to host Wild America (sorry, it was the best photo I could find on short notice). Plus it gives me rugburn when he kisses me.

Corollary: My husband should also not wear acid-washed jeans shorts, or fall asleep when his girlfriend (now wife) has a camera handy, even if it's 1996 and you've only been dating for like two months and you're working in a potato shed 14 hours a day over the summer to pay for college.

Just remember, dear - if you stop shaving, so do I. And while I'll admit my razor hasn't seen as much action as you'd like this summer, trust me - my legs and armpits can get a whole lot worse, and I could use the extra insulation this winter. You have been warned.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Best design so far

Here's the best I've come up with on my own - the space near the right bottom between the "base filler pullout" and "vanity base drawers" is a door, not that you can tell because I didn't erase the wall that's currently there. Notice that the work triangle is actually out of the way of the traffic flow? And the oven door doesn't open into the doorway? And the dishwasher doesn't block the drawers? The only thing I'm bummed about in this design is that there's noplace to put a set of drawers to hold pots ... but I think that lazy Susan in the corner would eat up most of my pots and pans with nary a complaint.
Btw, the scale is 1 square = 6", since my engineer father would kill me if I posted a drawing without a proper scale mentioned.
I started calling contractors and kitchen design centers today to make appointments for estimates, so it will be interesting to see if they come up with anything better. At least this has room for two barstools under the counter, and I put the drawers there so that Liza could keep some Play-Doh and crayons there to use when she gets underfoot. I was just excited to realize that I could get base cabinets in something more shallow than 24" if I used bathroom vanity cabinets, which means I can actually have a door that's wide enough to walk through without turning sideways. Hooray!

Why bother having a yard sale?

I've got 359.24 reasons for you right here, baby. And a whole garage full of parking and space to work on the chainsaw cabinet - oh, boy.

Funky fungus among us

Couldn't get the shot of the gills in before the camera died, so you'll just have to imagine the bright yellow spongy tiny honeycomb-looking underside of these suckers.

Yes, I am exactly this lame

Because I try not to break my promises ...

And here's a bonus photo of the only kitchen I've ever had with less counterspace than my current one:


Okay, now I'm starting to feel old. For example:

G - "Christ, that quarterback Quinn is like what, sixteen?"
J - "Well, he just graduated from college in May, so he's probably 21 or 22, but you're close."

And Jason's sister, who I still occasionally picture as being the 10-year-old girl she was when Jason and I first started dating, just got engaged. Congratulations, Susan! But sheesh, I don't remember ever being that young.

Nevermind the fact that she's already older than I was when Jason and I got married ...
Okay, I'm not even sure those two should be allowed to drink, much less get married.
Who decided that was a good idea? Oh, I guess it was these kids:

I think the best part of this photo is the look my maternal grandfather (far left) is giving my father, like "I know what you're going to be doing with Sandy tonight, and I don't like the thought of it one bit."

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Change #1

Unless we win the lottery and build a huge addition on the back of our house, the only way our kitchen is going to get more counterspace is if we say adios to the kitchen eating area. As loudly as the "temporary house" part of my brain is screaming "Aaaghhh! No eat-in kitchen means no resale value!" I am trying to be strong and beat it into submission. I can either have a crappy kitchen in which I eat sullenly for the next decade, or a nicer, roomy kitchen that forces me to actually use the expensive dining room furniture I made Jason buy a dozen years ago.**

Well, it's going to be a while before we actually start working on the kitchen renovation, but I'm eager to get moving in any way I can. So in order to test out the wisdom of eating in a carpeted dining room on a nice table with a two-year-old who is learning to use a regular cup and still regularly throws handfuls of food at the cat, we decided to eat all of our family meals in the dining room - a sort of practice for when we no longer have a kitchen table. We started last weekend.

I've got to say, I'm loving it. We decided it was a good time to start teaching Liza some table manners, since we hadn't used the table enough in the past to set up any "but I always ..." routines in her little brain. So we made a big deal about eating at the table, and how we always put a napkin in our laps, and we ask to be excused before we leave the table. And despite the fact that she's never been willing to do either before, she does it every time now, without having to be asked. And how cute is it when a two-year-old manages to get out some garbled version of "May I be excused from the table?" and holds up her hands to be wiped off? Soooo cute.

And the atmosphere at the table is just different - I don't know how to explain it. It's like at the kitchen table, you're crammed into the corner, and I'm so close to the stove that I can literally serve people food from the pans without leaving my seat, and there's this sort of "hunch over and get the eating over with" feeling that I never noticed until we ate in the dining room. Even with the cheery paint and kickin' curtains, it feels like a messhall. In the dining room, however, I sit at the table and feel calm. Food may still be cooking, and the corn may suck because I got it at the grocery instead of the farm, and my daughter may still not eat what I give her, but it doesn't seem as bad.

We have conversations, actual conversations in which Jason and I are allowed to finish sentences that aren't directed at Liza. And Liza is polite (mostly) and uses her fork (sorta) and doesn't complain when I give her an adult cup instead of a sippy cup. Okay, there's a little anxiety when the cup turns over, but I don't have much invested in the upholstery fabric on the chairs, and we're going to replace the carpet with hardwood when we redo the kitchen, so it's no big deal if something spills. Hell, she pees all over the floor in the rest of the house, so why should a little juice on the dining room floor freak me out?

The dining room experiment is going so well that we're just about ready to move on to stage 2: removing the kitchen table. The theory is that we'll be better able to visualize the changes we're thinking about if the 4' square thing isn't blocking our view. Of course, the kitchen will probably become slightly less functional when the table is gone, since it means all the craft/art stuff that Liza currently does there will have to move elsewhere. But other than as a stage for Play-Doh and paint-with-water, the kitchen table doesn't really do much for us. Heck, if the tablecloth I made wasn't so cute, that table probably would have hit the yard sale we had this weekend.

And if stage 2 works for us, Jason has decided that we might actually keep the table and use it in the basement for a gaming table. Especially if we can manage stage 3, removing the uncomfortable benches from the walls intact so they could be reused downstairs. Since I'm not the one who's going to be sitting on the benches pushing little plastic guys around on a grid and rolling dice, that's fine with me. The old kitchen table and chairs we've had for the past decade have a higher resale value than the homemade square one, anyway :) It does make me a little sad that we're going to try to remove the benches without the benefit of the sledgehammer ... I have so few excuses to use it, it seems a waste to pass one by without swinging it a few times. Oh, well - if we keep going on the demolition ourselves, I'll need to buy a Sawzall, which should more than make up for the lack of sledginess.

**Interesting historical fact: Before we had kids, and before we had cats, Jason and I were so boring that we actually took photos of our new furniture and sent them to our parents. Which is how I know for a fact that the Amish-built china cabinet was purchased before we were married in 1996, because I have a photo of it pasted in my album from our first apartment. When I convince my camera to work so I can scan it in, maybe I'll post a copy! Won't that be riveting?

Introducing a new blog category: kitchen renovation

Kitchens are important to me. And since I'm cooking in my tenth kitchen now (including my parents' houses, college apartments, and all the houses and apartments since then), I really understand how much the design of a kitchen influences its ability to make cooking easier and more fun.

I spent my formative years living in a house where my father had to lean forward in his chair so my mother could open the oven door, and another where you have to stand on your head in order to reach any of the pots and pans that aren't hanging from the forehead-gashing pot rack. My mother has spent the last 40 years cursing her kitchen three times a day, and I don't want to end up in the same boat.

So while our previous houses have all had something wrong with them (wet basement, old wiring, leaky front door, eight raccoons living under the deck), they were all carefully selected for their decent kitchens. Nothing along the lines of what shows up in the cabinet catalogs, mind you, just a room that was large enough to cook in and was laid out by someone who had actually cooked at least once in his life. Large enough that at least two people could cook at once, and with enough room for a few extra people to mill around during parties.

Except now I've got a crappy kitchen. It's sufficient ... if you're cooking by yourself, for no more than about three people, and no one attempts to enter the kitchen while you're in the trenches. A list of my woes:
  • The bifold pantry door obscures about 1/3 of the pantry contents even when it's fully open, and any other type of door would either obscure the main door to the kitchen, or do nothing to actually close off the pantry from prying little cookie-seekers.
  • I have only three drawers in the kitchen, and one of them can only be opened when the dishwasher door is down.
  • I have two sets of lower cabinets (other than the under-sink cabinet), one of which I can't access unless the dishwasher door is shut, and it's a blind corner cabinet so I have to actually lay down on the floor and stick my upper torso into the cabinet in order to reach the stuff in the back. That's where the food processor and waffle iron live, so don't expect to eat homemade mayonnaise or waffles when you visit.
  • The dishwasher door sticks shut, requiring two hands and superhuman grip strength to open it ... so we do that as infrequently as possible, which means dishes pile up on the counter and in the sink.
  • Speaking of counters, have I mentioned that they're faux-finished laminate from approximately 1979? And that any liquid left on the surface for more than 15 minutes leaves a white spot that takes upwards of a day to fade? And I have only seven linear feet of counterspace, plus one largely useless corner?
  • The cabinets are most likely the original 1979 model, refaced in a boring-but-marginally-acceptable oak-look laminate. The shelves aren't adjustable, and because of the layout of the kitchen, only one set has doors that are wider than 11". I have to tilt all of my serving pieces and casserole dishes to get them into the cabinets, and I lose the last 1' of space in the blind corner because I'm just not going to kill myself to store stuff back there.
  • The stove opens into the path of the other doorway to the kitchen, the 30"-wide door that leads to the dining room and the back porch. So when we have guests over for dinner or a barbecue, people are constantly trying to squeak around behind me to help set the table and get the food served. And even when it's just the three of us, Liza is always underfoot, and someday she's going to come racing around the corner and run smack into the open oven door.
  • Despite my wonderful upholstery job, the built-in benches are still uncomfortable, and the table takes up way too much room in the kitchen. But without the benches, the only table that would fit in the space would be a 2-person cafe table, which would be beyond useless.
  • There is so little storage space in the kitchen that I have an entire closet of shelves in the lower level of the house full of the kitchen gadgets that get used once a month or less. Turkey roasting pan? Ravioli maker? Rolling pin and cookie cutters? Meat thermometer? All in the "Closet of Useless Kitchen Items I Refuse To Throw Out Because I Really Do Need Them Twice A Year."
  • The one overhead light fixture is too wimpy to suffice for lighting the whole kitchen, so in order to actually see what I'm doing I have to turn on the overhead, the sink light, the light on the stove, the under-cabinet light I installed, and the light that's built into our under-cabinet CD player. Stupid dark green countertop sucks all the light right out of the universe.
  • The tile backsplash is painted. White. Come on ... I can't live like this.
  • And did I mention that the room is about 10'x10' with two doors in it?

Since it looks like Jason is happy in his work and in no mood to move across the country anytime soon, we're thinking it's probably best to fix the kitchen before it causes major scars in my psyche (or my child's face when she pitches headfirst into the oven). We've got a huge pile of brochures from Lowe's and Home Depot, and I checked a dozen kitchen renovation books out of the library while my mother was here a few weeks ago. I've got scale drawings of my kitchen and dining room littering every flat surface in the house, with potential arrangements of appliances sketched in, crossed out, scribbled on by Liza, and resketched. I've got a subscription to Angie's List and have identified a half-dozen kitchen design companies and contractors I want to talk to. I've got the National Kitchen and Bath Association website bookmarked, along with their list of guidelines for good kitchen design. I've identified our rough budget, which can be summarized as "enough to buy new cabinets and countertops, but not enough to put an addition onto the back of the house to actually fix the problem, an investment which we would never be able to recoup in this neighborhood anyway." I have wandered aimlessly in the tile section of Home Depot, taking photos with my cell phone of things I like (mainly the cool glass tiles, mixed with marble or slate as a border ... like this only without the green, will post pics another night).

We're pretty sure that whatever the final design, it's going to involve ripping out a wall (maybe two) and adding as much counterspace as I can shoehorn into the room. The oven will NOT open right in front of a doorway, and none of the appliances will interfere with the workings of the cabinet doors. If at all possible, I WILL replace my clunky pantry with one of those slick cabinets with the pull-out shelves and rotating thingees and other doodads, if it isn't going to cost me 1/4 of my budget to do so. Other than that, I'm open.

Since this is a project that's going to consume ever bit of energy I don't commit to my kid or my quilting, you're going to be hearing a lot about it. Even if we don't do most of the work ourselves (and unless a full-time babysitter who works for cheap falls into my lap, that's not going to happen), it's still going to mean months of details and shopping and agonizing over decisions I'm going to have to live with for the next decade or two. Which is a new situation for me ... all of our other houses have been temporary, and we've always known it, so any decisions we made we knew we only had to live with for a few years. But if I spend $20K and get it wrong, I'm going to have to live with it for a while this time, which is scary.

Jason pointed out to me today that for what we're talking about spending on the kitchen, I could buy a new car to replace the 2000 Venture that's starting to rust out at the bottom and is due for something expensive to go kablooey sometime soon. But the car works, and I don't hate it, and I do hate the kitchen, so guess where the money's going?

So this is fair warning that you're going to be seing a lot of kitchen talk over the next few months. If anyone has been through a complete gut-it-and-replace-it kitchen remodel, I'd love to hear any tips you have.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Fun with the sitemeter

Did you know that if you go to the AOL search function and type "puking," on the fourth page of search results you get my blog? How cool is that? Huh? Sooooo cool!

If I use the word "puking" a few more times in this post, maybe I'll make it to the third page!

Holy photoshopping, Batman!

Click on Portfolio, then click on the thumbnails at the bottom of the screen. The popup image jumps between original and retouched when you move the pointer on and off.

I particularly like the fact that the dark-haired woman in the middle of the bottom row got a larger butt in her retouched photo ... can I request that body type next time I'm reincarnated?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Locker Pockets

New on my other blog ... Locker Pockets!
Stash your stuff in style with this quick-to-sew organizer, perfect for hanging in a locker or on a bedroom wall. Easy to personalize with funky fabrics and patches or embroidery!

Patterns should be available at Birds of a Feather on Wednesday, and I'm hoping to teach a couple classes on this pattern later this fall. Keep your fingers crossed!

Well, I should hope so

"Various things fall off airplanes from time to time, but it's fairly unusual to have one of these landing-gear doors fall off," (FAA spokeswoman Laura) Brown said.

from this article

Monday, August 13, 2007


Today's naptime accomplishments:
- Read e-mail and blog posts
- Update blog
- Paint drawer fronts and outlet covers. Stare moodily at collection of 1 1/4" screws in jar in basement.
- Take shower, including a brief encounter with shaving cream and a sharp blade.
- Check eBay sales to see if anyone has paid yet.

and ... she's up. Fooey. I have about 40,000 other things to finish like, um, today. Gotta go rescue her from whatever foul thing is apparently trying to eat her limbs one by one, ending with her mouth, which will continue to yowl well into next week if I don't get her soon. Sigh

This weekend's home improvement project

The master bedroom "before" shot, with the previous owner's furniture and drapes:

Here it is after a coat of primer on the red wall, two coats of Restful on the whole room, two late-night trips to Target and Home Depot for curtain rods, new drawer pulls, and new doorknobs, and a miraculous flash of inspiration at Bed Bath and Beyond that led me to use shower curtains instead of "real" curtains in my bedroom.

Those cute picture frame curtain hooks are for a shower curtain, too - they're on clearance, so get 'em while they last, which at $5 for a pack of 12 probably won't be too long.

And in case anyone was wondering why Restful looks so familiar, here's an explanation:

(Family room at our house in Kentucky)

To finish the bedroom I still need to put a second coat of white on the built-in drawers and outlet covers and sew some fabric panels to cover up the open storage above the closet. And I still need to figure out how to attach a standard drawer pull to a door that's 1 1/2" thick, when the longest fine guage screw I can find is 1 1/4" long. Can you say, countersink?

reboot, schmeeboot

Friday night: asleep by 11:30pm, after us having to go in there three times. No star for her.
Saturday night: asleep by 10:30, I don't honestly remember if we had to go in.
Sunday night: asleep by 9:30, and we didn't have to go in.

Now if we could just convince her to let us turn the damn light off, we'd be set.

Friday, August 10, 2007

A message to some new readers

Dear Sir or Madam:

I was interested to see that you arrived at my site yesterday after using Google to search for "should I buy a house if the basement gets a little wet." I backtracked the search and found the page in my blog where you entered, and it was fun to read stuff I wrote a year ago and haven't really looked at since. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

And the answer is, "hell, no - there's no such thing as 'a little wet.'"

Just ask our former next-door neighbors, who are busy trying to dry out their 'a little wet' finished basement for the second time in three years, thanks to two freak sump pump failures and some wacky global warming weather. I think the rain hit Tuesday, and yesterday afternoon the carpet was still so wet it would soak through your socks almost immediately, and let me tell you, it smells funky down there. Their next-door neighbors had the carpet in their finished basement floating on top of the water, and they've seen barely a trickle in past storms.

When it comes to wet basements, my advice is to run away, far, far away. Barring that, buy lots of plastic totes, and assume that anything that goes in the basement will end up ruined at some point.

Thanks again for visiting, and I hope you stick around! The waterproofing on the basement in our current house is sure to fail at some point, and you wouldn't want to miss that, would you?

- the management

PS - to the person who ended up here after searching for "ground ivy eradication in lawns," you have my condolences. My advice: move. Clears the problem right up, as long as you check the new house's lawn before you close.

Hard reboot

As soon as I blog about my kid's routine, it goes and changes ...

Yesterday I woke Liza earlier than her recent time (around 8, I guess), and after running errands all morning she fell asleep in the car when we were 5 minutes from home . She wouldn't take a nap after that, so I got to deal with Cranky the Napless Wonder Child for the rest of the afternoon.

One of the morning's errands took us to Bed Bath and Beyond Awful, where I ended up buying a set of glow-in-the-dark stars for Liza's ceiling. We stuck one up last night, and I showed her how she could only see it when the lights were out ... not so effective when the sun came out at 8pm after a week of rain and haze, but she was impressed. I told her that if she got to sleep without me having to come in to sing to her again, she'd get another star for the ceiling tomorrow. And to try to prevent the whole "pull every book off the shelf and make an unstable landslide on the floor that she insists I help her pick up before she goes to sleep" routine, I packed her much-loved new Disney Princess backpack with a dozen of her favorite books and stuck it in bed with her. The result?

8:30 pm Thursday
Oh, thank god. We managed to watch TWO WHOLE EPISODES of Battlestar Galactica without the banging, thumping, whining, and crying going on overhead, she woke up at 7:30 this morning, and she went down for a nap by 1:30 this afternoon. We're having company over tonight, so I don't know how bedtime will go, but there's hope for our continued sanity after all.


Here they are, the first of the tomatoes from my garden. Despite the drought, the deer, and my own neglect, they managed to make it. I will confess that I brought them in a few days ago and did the "ripen in a paper bag with an apple" trick to make sure I got some before they're all stolen by the raccoon that lives in the tree about 20 feet from the garden. No harm done, though, since I tasted one right after taking the photo and ... heaven!

I think I'm done with the garden photos for a while. The cilantro has gone to flower, I've got one jalapeno left on the plant, the basil and rosemary look the same as ever, the broccoli is giving me 1" pieces at a time of second (and third) growth, and I've got more cucumbers than you can shake a stick at. But until the brussels sprouts get ripe, there won't be much new to report. So if anything interesting happens, I'll let you know - otherwise, you're safe until October, when I may have some cute little sprouts to show off.

Okay, so I'm supposed to be sleeping, but ...

Oh. My. God. Where's my Visa card? What good is a huge backyard if you can't stick one of these in it? Can you imagine the look on my neighbors' faces if I put the gas station model in my backyard, after sticking a satellite dish in the front yard?

(believe it or not, my cousin built one of these (only better, quite frankly) from scratch for his seven kids, only it's a treehouse that's sitting on a huge stump in their yard. And he designed it all himself, complex angles and everything. How cool is that?)

(yes, seven kids. They're trying to take up my slack, I guess)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Heard today

Proof that I may have to switch to the fire-and-brimstone approach to potty training:

"Mama, Liza pee-pee on ground. (she pauses, then says brightly) That's okay, everyone has accidents sometimes."

I have Figured It Out

My daughter's schedule:
9am - wake up
3 or 4pm - take a nap
8pm - be put to bed
11pm - finally stop reading books, jumping on the bed, losing slippers, losing favorite plastic bugs, getting stuck, throwing books on floor, attempting to rip closet doors off, etc. and go to sleep

Somehow, my daughter is suffering from West Coast jet lag, despite the fact that we haven't been out of our time zone in months. If you subtract three hours from all those times, she's back on her normal schedule.

So all I have to do is fly her out to visit my family in California, then come back, and it will be fixed, right? Because if I have to sit there for three hours listening to her crash around in her room one more time, that flight is going to start sounding like a good solution.

It's been six weeks since her bedtime started drifting later and later, and so far I haven't had the intestinal fortitude to try to reset her, what with all the tired whining that's going to entail (from both of us). But I guess I need to get her back on an earlier schedule before she starts her once-a-week preschool in September, so I'd better get moving.

That means I need to stop blogging and go get her up now, right? sigh ...

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

First of the sweatshop patterns

Introducing ... Mophead and Friends!

These fast, fun little loveys are sure to gather lots of “awwwws” at a baby shower. Lots of snuggly fringe makes them popular with babies, while the “tuck in your back pocket” size is a hit with parents. Be sure to make more than one to prevent “lost lovey meltdown!”
Pattern includes directions for Mophead, Sleepy Lion, Fuzzy Flower, Shooting Star, and the abstract square.
Closeup of the most popular design, Sleepy Lion:

Patterns available at
Actual loveys available soon on etsy.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Gotta love a kid who will lay down in the tub to have her hair washed. My god, the cuteness ...


Jason, Liza and I took time Saturday morning to go on a hike in the park near our house, attempting to complete our first "letterboxing" quest. If you're not familiar with letterboxing, follow the link - basically, people hide caches of stuff in public places, then provide clues on how to find them. There are thousands of these all over the country/world, and the site I linked to lets you search by area for boxes in your area.
It was a perfect day for a walk in the park, which is what this quest was since it mostly followed the all-purpose trail and bridle trails in the park. Liza was in favor of the large bridge we walked over near the start of the trip, mainly because she got to throw rocks at the local residents:

Jason and Liza had to leave the hike early to go to swim class, so he wasn't there when I finally found the first box:

above: in situ

below: removed for examination

Like most letterboxes, this one contained a custom stamp I could use to record the find in my journal, a logbook where I could record the date I found the box, and enough plastic bags to keep it all relatively dry. This series was supposed to illustrate four things Clevelanders are proud of, so in four boxes I got three sports logos and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Here's my completed journal page, along with the fourth letterbox:

I have to say, this was a lot of fun. The quest I chose had very straightforward directions ("After the culvert, walk 40 steps and look to your right. Behind the tree stump that's about 6 feet tall is a tree that forks about 4 feet off the ground. The box is behind that forked tree.) and the boxes were easy to find. They were located close to well-traveled paths, so it's not like I had to bushwhack much to find them.

In fact, the paths were probably a little too well-traveled, since I managed to accidentally make one horse on the bridle path shy away when I moved in the brush to the side of the path, and another guy on the trail wanted to know what I was doing back there. Since the locations of letterboxes are supposed to be kept secret from everyone except the people on the quest, I already had a story prepared: photographing tree fungus. No better reason to be poking around in stumps off of the marked trails, right? No, really, officer, I'm not hiding drugs in this hollow tree.

I'll definitely be doing this again, if only so that Jason has a chance to be in on the final discovery. Plus, that way he's the one digging around in tree stumps with his bare hands. It's not like we have (many) poisonous spiders or snakes in Ohio, but it doesn't hurt to be careful. I think next time, I'll bring gloves.

And the whole "quest" thing gave us a destination on an otherwise unremarkable stretch of trail, which gave us an excuse to get out and see what was there. And there was plenty to see, if you looked. I love the evil-looking tree roots in the background here:

You can't see it so well in the last photo, but that's a neon blue body on some kind of dragonfly or damselfly. It was spectacular in real life, but like so many other things, not so impressive on film.

Fairy tales

Part of the reason I've been so silent this past week is that I've turned our house into a Lazy Mama sweatshop, enlisting the assistance of anyone who stands still for 2 minutes to help out with something, anything. I'm trying to get my etsy shop back up, and releasing several new patterns, and trying to make samples for a new shop that's selling my patterns ... and my mother is also trying to duplicate one of Liza's beloved dresses in the 15 seconds each day she's not on child-care duty or helping to sew stuff for etsy. The sewing room is about ankle deep in stuff, and I haven't actually seen the top of my cutting table in a week. If only I didn't still have the sniffles, things would be great.

Of course, Liza is only marginally useful when it comes to sweatshop labor (just wait until next year ... we'll have her paying her keep in no time!). So she's been designated as the entertainment committee, with a whole trunk full of dressup clothes as her props. Her current favorite outfit:

I'm fairly certain she learned that move at Tiffany's Escort and Adult Entertainment Academy. See, I told you the lessons would pay off someday!

It's exhausting to watch her dancing around like a fairy, especially for those who have to be on guard against flying tiaras and exuberantly poking fingers ...

Video will be available once I have the chance to edit it without her on my lap yelling "Butterfly again! Butterfly again!" in my ear. Nothing this kid likes better than watching herself on the computer.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Temporarily breaking radio silence

Have I mentioned how much it sucks to have a summer cold? Sooooooo much.

While I no longer feel like offing myself and those around me in an act of spectacular defiance of the virus which has made my life hell this week, I still sound like a bodybuilding waitress who smokes four packs a day while she's breaking up fights at the honkytonk. At least I can speak, which is an improvement over a couple of days ago, when I got to find out exactly how useless it is to try to yell at a kid while whispering.

Oh, and did I mention the kid isn't going to bed until after 10 now? Gahhhhhh.

Resuming radio silence. Will comment again when things don't suck quite so much, or when I've at least got something funny to say about the suckage.