Sunday, December 4, 2011

Happy Canvent, the merriest holiday of them all.

Happy Canvent, everyone!  I hope you all enjoying celebrating this special time of year.


What, you don't know what Canvent is?  I'm shocked.  This holiday deserves a place in history along with Ludachristmas and Festivus.

Let me tell you a story of the origin of Canvent:  Once upon a time, there was a coworker with a very odd mother-in-law.  This mother-in-law thought it would be funny to bring a box of canned goods to her future daughter's bridal shower.  Yes, a box of canned goods.   With the labels ripped off.  No other gift.  No explanations or game to go along with it---the mother-in-law just laughed and said that it was a common practice.

Nothing says "welcome to the family" like a box of a cans without labels.

So what's a girl to do with a large box of unlabeled canned goods?  You can't donate them.  You don't really want to eat they sat in her garage until she made a mistake of telling her coworkers about it.  

And thus Canvent was created.  Every day from now until Christmas, our office will open up one can.  Bets will be placed on what it contains.  If it's not something too disgusting, we may even eat it.  

The winner of Canvent gets absolutely nothing (except the warm, fuzzy feeling of being right when everyone else is wrong--and really, who doesn't love that?)   And the winner of the first day of Canvent is....

It's a gift.  And a curse.

Insert pun about manwich and my knowledge of it here. 

Happy Canvent, y'all.  Maybe Canvent is an elaborate metaphor for how each of us, stripped of our labels, contain wildly different things on the inside.  Or maybe it's just a good excuse to be thankful that no matter what, your mother-in-law has never given you the gift of unlabeled cans.

Unless, of course, you happen to be my coworker.

Monday, November 28, 2011

You can’t go home again. But you can always feel like an awkward, moody teenager.

High school wasn’t bad for me.  It wasn’t great, either.  I had my share of unreasonable teenage angst and questionable fashion decisions.   

I went to a large high school.  While I wasn’t one of the cool kids, it never bothered me because I had friends who were just as uncool as I was.  I was an odd combination of nerd and wannabe arty rebel—think National Honors Society, editor of the literary magazine, a bit of backstage theater work, ska-and-punk music lover, and a horse wrangler for a Girl Scout camp on occasional weekends.  Plus, I was weird and awkward.  I once wore a pair of pants with battery powered Christmas lights decorating the outside seams, and I tended to read novels behind my text books. 

I keep in touch with a couple people from my high school, as we went to college together and remained friends.   When I got the invitation to my ten year high school reunion, I had two simultaneous thoughts. 

1) Ten years?  That can’t be right. I’m fairly certain I’m still like 26.  I know I’ve been 26 for a few years now, but it’s a good age. 

2) Sparkles and I can go together, and we can get drunk and make snarky comments.  And that is what reunions are truly about.

After I bought the ticket to the reunion, I found out that the ever illustrious Sparkles had to work—and she has the type of job that you can never, ever, call in sick unless you are already dead from the plague.  My other friend lives across the country and wasn’t about to spend $500 on a plane ticket just for a reunion.  So I was stuck flying solo. I considered bringing my husband but tickets were $60.  And while I thought that I may be able to have $60 worth of fun, it was unlikely that my introvert husband would have an additional $60 worth of fun with people he had never met.
I was strangely nervous about the whole thing.  Batman pointed out that it was highly unlikely I would be made fun of, as we were all adults now.  I reminded him that with copious amounts of alcohol, anything was possible.  

Low points of the evening:  Two people called me by the wrong name.  Including our guidance counselor.

High points of the evening:  It was actually cool to see everyone all grown up.  Most people seemed about the same (which is a scary thought in itself) except, you know, older.  There was no snobbery going on, and while everyone kind of gravitated towards people they knew, I spoke to almost everyone there.  There was a constant litany of the same three questions:  What do you do?  Where do you live/have you ever left the city?  Do you have a family?

I'm glad I went.  When I got home, Batman asked me how it went.  I told him it was fun--and assured him that none of my high school crushes were remotely attractive anymore. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

One down, a hundred and twenty seven crafts to go.

You know how I had a million and one crafts I wanted to make?

I finished one!  That's a start at least.

This is my fishing game, inspired from this blog I found through Pinterest.  I used a thin rope rather than twine or leather for the fishing line, but other than that I followed those instructions pretty closely.

Mo-mo the toddler approves.  Fat Mar-mar the cat approves. (See the paw?)

After watching Mar-mar eat the fish, Mo-mo wondered how they tasted.  She was disappointed that they didn't taste like Goldfish crackers.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cheese, Gromit.

I love Barbara Kingsolver's novels.  I really enjoyed The Poisonwood Bible and Prodigal Summer.  I picked up her memoir about eating local, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, expecting to love it.  Instead I learned that while Ms. Kingsolver can write beautiful and lyrical descriptions of her garden, she's a bit of a sanctimonious prig when it comes to food.  Who knew?

The one upside of this book is that it got me interested in making my own cheese from scratch.  I love cheese.  I also love making things from scratch.  Seems like a perfect fit!  Ms. Kingsolver claimed that cheese-making was easy, the directions online I found claimed that it was easy--but when I sat down to try and figure out how to actually do it, I couldn't make heads or tails of it.

Never one to give up, I found that there is someone local who teaches classes on how to make cheese.  I somehow conned my father, Evil Dr. Porkchop, into taking it the class with me.  Lo and behold, we learned to make cheese.  It simply requires a) milk   b) some random stuff like bacteria cultures and rennet c) time.  While not exactly rocket science, I don't think I would classify it as easy.

During the four hour class we learned how to make chevre, ricotta, feta, yogurt and a basic hard cheese.  More importantly, we got to eat cheese.  We were also given a nice booklet with instructions.  As soon as I can get my hands on some raw goat or cow's milk, I'm ready to make the easier cheeses--feta and chevre.  Fancy! 

I didn't take any photos of the process because I was too busy paying attention and the booklet had great pictures.  However, here are some photos of the goats.  Do you think Batman would be mad if I adopted a couple?  They could keep the lawn in the backyard trimmed and our dogs could herd them. 

Fresh cheese or not, I don't think Batman would be okay with that plan.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Parental Misunderstandings.

My friend Shortstuff recently confessed to me that way back when Mo-mo was first born, she misunderstood something that I said.  And she was way too polite and grossed out to ask me to clarify.

We were talking on the phone, and Batman called to me from the other room.  Hold on, I said, Batman is calling me.  I listened to what he had to say.  I have to go, I told her. Batman needs my help.  There's a poop emergency.  

Being that Mo-mo was fairly small, what I thought I conveyed was that Mo-mo had managed (as young babies do) to poop through the side of her diaper and Batman needed a hand getting her gross onesie off and giving her a quick bath. 

What Shortstuff thought I meant was that Batman was having a poop emergency.  And she was rather alarmed and confused, having no idea 1) how a grown man could have a poop emergency and 2) what sort of help I could lend my husband during said poop emergency. 

I am actually impressed that she was able to look him in the eye after that.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


I'm fairly crafty.  I made my daughter's awesome Halloween costume.

A lot of people told me how cute he looked.  I decided that it wasn't the right time to lecture about gender stereotypes.  Also, she did look adorable.

I've made numerous taggie toys, home decorations, and I rock at cross-stitching.  But for every project I complete, there is at least three that I get very excited about, buy the materials, then don't finish.

I thought this blog entry would serve as a combination of confession/reminder/guilting myself into completing these.  Here are my list of the crafts waiting for me to get off my butt and make.

1)  Fishing set. 

my materials

I got the idea from this blog, found on Pinterest.  (Can we pause for a moment and talk about how awesome Pinterest is?  Yes, it is amazing.  I'm in love.)
Time I have been meaning to make this:  about a week.

2) Apron from a scarf.

Pretty scarf, no?  I found it at the thrift store.  I've been wanting to make an apron (I make a huge mess when when I bake) and I thought it would be fun to use it for that.
Time I have been meaning to make this:  about three months

3) Felt Food.

As you can see, I made one little piece of felt food.  It turned out adorable--but I'm very slow at hand sewing.  I bought enough felt to make at least 15 more pieces of food for Mo-mo's play kitchen.
Time I have been meaning to make this:  about four months

4) A baby quilt.

This is one of those crafts that I started with the best of intentions.  My aunt makes beautiful quilts and often donates them to the hospital for babies in the ICU.  I thought it would be a wonderful project...and I only did about 1/2 of it.  Again, the hand sewing thing slowed me down.
Time I have been meaning to make this:  about a year

5) The Lorax Toybox.

It needs hinges.  And paint.  And more paint.  And even more paint.  I started this without realizing that I would have to prime it, paint the background several times, paint the trim several times (it's going to be bright purple), paint the scenes, paint the black lines in the little scenes, then polyurethane it.  I got about halfway done with painting it outside before it started raining, and I just never returned to it. I am embarrassed to admit that I use it to keep unfinished craft projects in. 
Time I have been meaning to make this:  about a year and a half

6) A knitted...something.

This is a....scarf, potholder, square.  Take your pick.  I learned how to knit then never actually made anything.  I'm kind of scared to finish it because I don't know how to cast off.  Or on again, if I want to make something else.
Time I have been meaning to make this:  about a year and a half

7) Purse made from a book.

Inspiration from this blog

 my materials

I have the materials.  I even gutted out a poor book specifically bought for that purpose (The Last Days of Pompeii).  (oh, and I saved the pages--I figure there has to be something I can do with them.  I have major guilt about ripping up a book.)  I just haven't made the darn thing yet. 
Time I have been meaning to make this:  about two years

8) Hair ribbons for Mo-mo.

When Mo-mo was about six months old, I bought some adorable ribbon with the intention of making cutesy bows for her.  I quickly realized that she would only keep barrettes in her hair for about 30 seconds. 
Time I have been meaning to make this:  over two years
8) The perfect Easter basket.

Apparently, finding an Easter basket for Mo-mo that I like (for a reasonable price) was too difficult.  So I bought one that I kind of like and was going to paint it and re-line it with new fabric.
Time I have been meaning to make this:  over two years 

9) Portraits of my animals.


I made the one of Odin and it hangs in our kitchen.  Still need to paint Athena and Fat Mar-mar.
Time I have been meaning to make this:  over two years

10) A corset.  Crap, this is embarassing.

 Pleather?  What was I thinking?

I cannot tell you for the life of me why I wanted to sew a corset.  I know it was for a costume of some kind--pirate wench, maybe?.  I've never sewn anything from a pattern before--and a corset with eyelets and boning and everything is tricky.  Plus I bought a ton of ridiculous faux leather and brocade, neither of which are particularly easy to work with.  I'm going to chalk this one up to being young and dumb and find something else to do with the material.
Time I have been meaning to make this:  over four years.  Well, I probably actually wanted to make it for a week.  Then I realized how difficult it was.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The coolest costume. Ever.

This is by far one of the coolest things I have ever made.

Mo-mo is going to be a train engineer for Halloween--complete with a little red wagon made to look like a train.

  • cardboard.  Lots of cardboard
  • exacto knife
  • sharp scissors
  • glue gun
  • duct tape
  • PVC pipe (I used 1/2 inch)
  • PVC pipe cutters
  • spray paint- red, black and yellow matte
  • empty corn meal can, but almost any can would work

I started out with two large flat pieces of cardboard, both divided in thirds.  I cut out half of the middle portion on each.  I added windows to one piece (see above).  Then I nestled them together like this:


I hot-glued and duct-taped the two pieces together.  I even trimmed the windows with duct tape because my exact-o knife skills are not too hot.

Next, I had to figure out a way to get it to mount on the wagon.  That's where the PVC pipe comes in handy.  I cut small X's in the cardboard and fed a PVC pipe through the bottom, so that it would have a way to sit on the wagon.  I reinforced it with duct-tape. 

Cutting PVC pipe is incredibly easy with one of these gizmos.  $10 from Lowe's.  Is it weird that I'm looking forward to using it for future projects?

Next, I reinforced the corners of the window unit with PVC pipe.  Unfortunately, I don't have a very good picture of it.  I simply measured it, cut it, then duct-taped and hot-glued it in place. 

Notice that the roof and front of the train is missing? I used those pieces that I cut out (to make them fit together) and both duct taped and hot glued it all together.

 This is what it looked like before the painting/final touches were put on.  I let Mo-mo give it a spin to make sure it worked.

Then I spray painted it red (two coats letting it dry at least 3 hours between)

I drew and cut out the wheels, spokes, wheel attach-thingies (no idea what they are actually called), a bit larger of a roof, a cattle-guard, and a light for the front.  I then spray painted them along with the corn meal can for a smoke stack (again, two coats), let them dry.  Lastly I hot-glued it all together.

I know it's not going to last forever--I'm not even going to show the finished product to Mo-mo until Halloween.  But I think it will last at least for that evening and she may even get to play with it inside for awhile.

I'll be sure to post photos of her on Halloween!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The List.

Hey, remember when I made a list of 101 things to do in a 1001 days and did them all?

Yeah, me neither.  To be fair, I have another year.  I've completed 30 out of 101.  Hmmm.  Not doing so hot.

Since I've last looked at the list, I've completed:

9. Start a college fund for Mo-mo Totally makes me feel like an adult.

15. Go trick or treating with Mo-mo  Gnomish cuteness.

20. Join a mommy group When I was between jobs, I met an awesome group of SAHM mom's from the neighborhood.

25. Learn to knit  Kind of?  I learned, but mostly forgot. 

47. Spend the night at the Lemp Mansion  Alas, no ghosts.  Just a very uncomfortable creaky bed and an interesting old house.


53. See something at the Fox Theatre  Wicked.  Yeah. (Note: Wicked as in the actual musical we saw, not the Bostonian adjective.  But it was pretty wicked.)

57. Do something amazingly special for our 5th wedding anniversary.  See above--we went to the Lemp Mansion

63. Start an herb garden Really?  This was a goal?  Huh.  I planted an herb garden, but I thought it was on a whim.  Oh well.  Still counts.

66. Purchase a matching set of living room furniture  Thanks, Craigslist.

84. Clean out everything from my room at parent's house.  Thanks, random basement flood.  Wait, I think there may be a couple things still in that closet. 

98. Purchase a new car for Batman  He is riding in style with his new Honda.  And by "in style", I mean that his bumper is no longer duct-taped to the car and he has air conditioning.

100. Find a "mommy friend"  Got several of them.  Hooray!  Friends, keep procreating.

I have to fess up--There are two that I did.  Then undid.

80.  Get at least 25 followers to my blog. 
Back when I was blogging regularly and had it under the original title of "The Whole Mommy Thing", this was true.  Then I got impatient and tried to switch platforms and realized that I suck at trying to code things so went back but didn't realize that it got rid of all of my followers.  So yeah. 

101. For every goal I accomplish, put away $10. When it hits Sept 19, 2012 do something fun with that money. 
See, last year when Batman and I had both just graduated from school, we were broke. We're still broke but less broke than we were then.  My parent's took us on an amazing vacation to Cozumel.  I had $200 or so saved up.  We broke the piggy bank and spent it on fun crap in Cozumel instead of waiting.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


My house can best be described as "eclectic".  Because that sounds a hell of a lot nicer than "third-hand furniture and crap that doesn't match".

Don't get me wrong, I love my junk.  I love my stuffed piranha that my grandparents got from Brazil, I love my eight bookshelves of novels alphabetized by author, I love my large framed painting that Batman says looks like "gorilla butts".

  Horses, people.  Not gorilla butts, not plums.  Don't hate on the Franz Marc.

More and more, I start looking around when I'm at people's houses--people my age, not "grown-ups" (we are not going to discuss how I don't consider myself a grown-up yet) and their stuff actually matches.  Their kitchen furniture is a matching set--not a table from a thrift store that is embarrassing looking without a tablecloth, two folding chairs, and two chairs that I painted turquoise on a whim and are falling apart.

I am never going to have a pristine, beautiful museum of house.  It's not my style.  I really do love eclectic decorations, bright colors, and unusual paintings.  I think homes should be comfortable--you shouldn't be constantly afraid you're going to break something or dirty something up. 

Still...I'm starting to tackle the little things and make an attempt to coordinate.  I've started with our bathroom.  I got rid of the accumulated clutter left over from the last three bathrooms we had--the trash can, the soap dispenser, etc. and bought an inexpensive but matching set of turquoise accessories from Target.  I also made these:

They are darling, no?  And they were ridiculously easy to make.  

1.  I bought frames from a thrift store.  $1.25 each

2.  I spray-painted them.  I did another frame at the same time with a different color--the high-gloss of the royal blue turned out better than the matte finish of the other one.

3.  I used Google images to find "octopus silhouette" and "shark silhouette" and copy and pasted the ones I liked into a Word document.  I re-sized them to fit inside of the frame and printed them out.  I cut it out and used it to trace the shape onto scrapbook paper.  Pay no attention to the bird, that's for a different project.

4.  Cut out the scrapbook paper silhouettes, rubber cemented them onto a piece of card stock cut to size, and framed them.  Viola!  I have art that matches my the colors of my bathroom.

Now if only getting a new set of kitchen furniture was this easy...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sexism, McDonald's, and over-thinking the whole shebang

When I ordered the Happy Meal tonight at McDonald's, the cashier asked me, "Boy or girl?"  My response:  "Girl.  I mean boy.  I want the boy toy."

Because, quite frankly, the girl toy sucks.

Really, McDonald's?  This is the best you can do?

 It is a small replica of Skechers shoe that lights up.  

How in the world do you play with it?  Do you pretend it's flying?  Maybe pretend that it is looking for its other half?  Nah.  You watch it light up, clip it to a purse, and say how pretty it is.  Maybe you're inspired to start begging for some real shoes like it.  It's so....passive.

The boy toy is pretty cool.  They are a series of Batman figurines.  We got Joker--his lapel squirts water, so I'm just going to toss him in with the tub toys. 

Waaaaay cooler.

I've been thinking a lot about "boy" vs. "girl" toys and clothes.  I grew up with two brothers.  I played with their GI Joe's, they played with Barbies--but we only wanted to play if we could be the "right" gender.  (I had one small GI Jane and a helmeted GI Joe I insisted was a girl, my brothers played with Ken.)  I had a set of Legos I adored, but only felt comfortable playing with them because they were pink.  This wasn't a mindset that my parents encouraged in any way, it was just something that I decided.

I love shopping for Mo-mo.  Pink, purple, ruffles and hair bows can be fun.  But I also like Back To The Future shirts.  I think monsters, trains, and dogs should be for girls too.  Orange, green, and blue are great colors.  And do you know how hard it is to find a girl's shirt with an "I love my mommy" sentiment?  Nigh impossible to find.  

Mo-mo is an awesome mix of girly-girl and tom boy.  She loves playing outside, playing with balls, and trains.  She also loves high heels, her purse, jewelry, make-up, dancing, and playing with her baby dolls.

My biggest worry is that world will box Mo-mo in.  I don't ever want her to feel as if she has to pick something or behave a certain way because she's a girl.  She can choose soccer over ballet, green over pink, airplanes over princesses.  Or not.  I want it to be her choice.  The moment she tells me that she would prefer the girl toy, I will let her have it (barring anything Bratz related).   

Until then, she can have the Joker figurine.  Because really....a light-up shoe?  It's lame.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Tea, Baby

My two-year old daughter loves hot tea.

I found out this curious fact last winter, as I was sipping my morning cup of Earl Gray.  Momo climbed on my lap and demanded some.  I figured it would be one of those things where she has a sip, makes a face, and never bothers me again about it. 

She had her sip and her eyes lit up.  "More, more, MORE!"

I had created a monster.

Before the internets starts to judge me too harshly, let me tell you this--she only gets very weak decaffeinated tea, lukewarm with tons of milk, and only as an occasional treat.  I no longer drink my morning tea at home because I refuse to let her have it very frequently.

Last week, my family went out to breakfast to celebrate my father's 60th birthday.  There were coffee cups on the tables at the restaurant and so my daughter started asking for tea.

"Let me ask if they have decaf," was my answer.

She slumped down in her high chair and started pitifully moaning as if she were in physical pain.  "Deeeeeeeeecaff!  Deeeeeeeeecaf Mommy! DEEEEEEEEEEECAAAAAAAAAAAAAF!!!!"

Everyone in the restaurant turned towards me and my child who was requesting "decaf" at the top of her lungs.  They probably thought she was jonesing for her morning coffee fix.  I could tell they were smiting me in their minds for getting a toddler hooked on coffee. 

Life is never dull when you have a toddler.

Monday, June 6, 2011

2 1/2 recent crafts

1.  Little Tike's toddler car

It's not really a craft, it's more of a fixer-upper. I bought this faded little car for $5 from a yard sale.  New, they cost something like $50-$60.  I bought Krylon spray paint for plastic, took it apart and painted it.

It doesn't look perfect but looks a lot better than it did!  Ellie loves it.  I let her pick out the colors. Now I'm tempted to buy a john deere sticker for the back.  I admit, I didn't think of this renovation on my own--Ellie's babysitter painted one for her son and it looked great.

2. Jewelry organizer

Usually, I throw all of my necklaces and dangle-y earring into a big basket on my dresser.  I can never find what I want to wear and they get all tangled.  This is a $1 mirror frame from a garage sale (I popped the mirror off of the frame--it was incredibly ugly), spray painted it, and used a staple gun to line the back with chicken wire.     

2 1/2.  Cross-stitch project

I haven't finished this project yet, but I wanted to brag and show off how far I've gotten.  This is how far I was in March of 2010. 

This is what it looks like now.  I've been working on it at least three nights a week for the last five months. 

Just to give you an idea of how small the stitching is:

Oh, and this is what it will hopefully look like when it's done.

As I said before, this isn't a craft project, it's a commitment. I don't even want to think of how old Mo-mo will be when I finally finish.