Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Present Moment

Because I wouldn't call myself an inheriently 'joyful' or 'joyous' person, when Mama Kat's prompts came thru yesterday, I never would have imagined I'd pick 'what is the joy in your present moment?' But it nagged at me all day yesterday, and all morning so far, so I figured I might as well just go for it.

Life is good.  And that's almost...uncomfortable...for me.  I'm a pessimist, a Negative Nancy, dare I say even a Debbie Downer? My default seems to be to assume the worst.

But again, life right now? It's good. And that makes me feel EXTREMELY guilty! So stupid, but I can't help it.  There's women out there who desperately want a baby but for whatever reason aren't pregnant. I hate my kids, and I got pregnant four times without a hitch, carried to term, and had four gorgeous completely healthy kids. There's girls out there who married monsters, who's lives are falling apart in the worst ways imaginable, and me and my buddy Nick snuggle up together every day to recite lines of Friends together. My best flesh and blood friend, who was born here and has family here and loves it here has to leave after just eighteen months so her husband can go do what I can only imagine is the WORST job in the entire Navy next, and I get to stay for an extra two years, and so far, my husband never has to go out to sea again.

It doesn't make any sense to me.  Why am I so blessed? Why are other people, better people, so unlucky?

I guess to be the typical sappy stay at home mom blogger, I should state the obvious: that I should cherish my good fortune, pay it forward, be grateful every day for my life.  And I am, I really am grateful, pinky promise. But as lame as it sounds, and as much as I'd screen shot this if someone else said it so I could text Angela and Holly and we could laugh at her, I really should stop and smell the roses more often.

I have four healthy kids. Who all go to school (for free!) leaving me alone to do as I please for hours every single weekday. I have hot coffee to drink, and hot water to shower with, and cold Cherry Coke Zero in the fridge for lunch. I have a room full of fabric that other people paid for that I get to tear apart and sew back together, to use my hands to create, and damn does that feel good. I have a stack of (free!!) library books to take me to other worlds.

So maybe, just every now and then, instead of rolling my eyes and screen shotting happy people to laugh at them later, I should...follow suite? I can't help that girl who can't get pregnant, but maybe I can try to enjoy my kiddos a little more, for her sake. I can try to quit taking Nick for granted, for the sake of the woman who's stuck with a dick. I can make an effort of soak all the badass things about London because some people can't.

Okay, I probably won't magically turn into one of those soft spoken, joyous women.  But I can try, at least a little bit.

Linking up for Mama Kat's Writers's Workshop again.  Ya'll, these are super fun, you should totally try one.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Dear Diary (Or "Random Bullshit Swarming Around in my Head")

I have a tactile...thing. Part of it is that I'm so fat, but even when I was a teenager and skinny, first thing I did after school was take my jeans off.  Every day.  It's only gotten worse as I've gotten older and more mentally ill.  I'd go so far as to say it's my main symptom- when I get really anxious, when my depression starts to get the better of me, it's my skin that lets me know before anything else that something is just WRONG. Which, I guess, is sort of nice actually, because (in theory) I can get ahead of it.

I don't like my arms to be restricted at all.  I need (yes NEED) to be able to lift my arms all the way over my head without any hinderance. And without my bra riding up. A cami for some reason really helps with that, the ones with the bra shelf? Who knows. But this ruined my life and cost me a fortune when I was on a hunt for a cool blazer to wear.  Remember when that was like the thing to have? Well spoiler alert, they don't make a blazer where you can lift your arms.  I ended up with a jean jacket that's two sizes to big, but dammit if I can't lift my arms as high as you'd ever want.  Which really, why would you want to unless you're Captain Crazy Pants? Ugh.

I don't like my jeans (which I hardly ever wear because of the fat issue) to sink down off my hips. I like to be able to do a full deeeeeeep sumo squat without my pants all.  Hence, my plethora of leggings and yoga pants and maxi dresses.

But. More than ANYTHING else in the entire world, I cannot handle the tags in my clothes.  Why are we still having tags in our clothes?!?! I know they can make tagless shirts because I've seen them!! But instead, they're making tags out of what I can only assume is ground up glass and stitching them into the collars of my shirts with some sort of mega strong stainless steel super thread. As soon as I get my clothes in the mail, I grab my seam ripper and go after those little fuckers. Why are they so hard to remove?!?! And why do they STITCH tags into knitted sweaters and cardigans?!?! More than half the time, I ned up with a giant hole in the sweater from not being careful enough.


So, that's my random confession for the week.  My weirdo mental issues that manifest as tactile...things.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Flashback Friday: Disney World, March 2010

When we moved from Connecticut to Guam in March of 2010, we spent a few weeks with our families before the twenty three hour flight.  And since Nick's family lives so close to Orlando, it just made sense to go to Disney World.

This was Ava and Scott's second trip, and Warren's first.  Obviously.  He'd just turned one.  My baby.  Sob.

I've been working on a physical scrapbook for...the entire five years since this trip happened.  So I finally said fuck that and just did it on the computer.

I got all my supplies at Lillypad, but they were all part of the retirement sale, so I can't link to them because...they're gone. Sorry about that.

I got my templates from this gal and then I just make them bigger and smaller as I need to.

Now I just need a sale so the book isn't a billion dollars and I can finally toss all the old scrapping shit.  Or I can just ignore it for five more years and work on Disney 2007 instead...

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Ohhhh Scott

Me, reminding Scott that there are certain weird rules you have to follow to be a part of 'normal' society: "Baby, look in my eyes so I can hear you better, you've got to look people in the eye when you talk to them."

Scott, reminding me that he's not interested in being a part of 'normal' society: "Mom, I can't look people in the eye! Then they can poison my soul!"

Hashtag Dexter?

Linking up with Mama's Losin' It with the prompt something your kids said that made you laugh. I laughed after the fact.  Way after the fact.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Book Report (Last of 2014!!! FINALLY!!!)

Finally!! The last book that I read in 2014.  I think.

Anyway.  It was a winner.  Because Hugh Howey is a god.  I don't think it was AS GOOD as Wool or Shift and especially not Dust, but it was pretty damn close. It got a lot of crap reviews on Goodreads, but I think that's just because the Silo Saga was SO FRICKING GOOD, people can't get their heads out of the asses and realize that different isn't ALWAYS bad.

Yes, I hear how ironic that sounds coming from a woman who's slogan just happens to be DIFFERENT IS BAD, but it is what it is.  Le sigh.

Sand was a fantastic story.  Howey sucked me straight in from page one.  He built an incredibly real world, despite the fact that I didn't believe for one instant that it could ever happen.  I mean, a suit that moves sand around so you can 'dive' a few miles under it? I'm thinking no.  But I don't really understand physics.

When Palmer is in the building, I had hives.  I hate the dark, and I super hate being confined, even an office building could feel like a closet if you were trapped in it, and MORE THAN ANYTHING I hate the idea of being all alone.  Last man on earth, adrift in space or on the sea...shudder.  It's my absolute horror.

So five stars.  Now for the back of the book: The old world is buried. A new one has been forged atop the shifting dunes. Here in this land of howling wind and infernal sand, four siblings find themselves scattered and lost.

Palmer has never been the same since his father walked out twelve years ago. His elder sister, Vic, is trying to run away from the past; his younger brothers, Connor and Rob, are risking their lives to embrace it. His mother, left with nothing but anger, is just trying to forget.

Palmer wants to prove his worth, not only to his family, but to himself. And in the barren, dune-covered landscape of his home, there is only one way to earn respect: sand-diving. Plunging deep below the desert floor in search of relics and scraps of the old world. He is about to embark on the most dangerous dive of his young life, aiming to become the first to discover the rumoured city below.

Deep within the sand lies the key to bringing his family together – and tearing their world apart.

So the takeaway: GO READ THIS BOOK.  The end.

And now, the first book I read in two thousand fifteen!!! This is actually sort of a letdown since I couldn't wait and I've already reviewed The Martian, but whatevs.  Fake it till you make it, and that includes excitement, no?

Cress is book three of the Lunar books, and I didn't think it was AS cool as Cinder, or even Scarlett, but it was still good enough and it moved the story along so now I can't wait for book four.

I just didn't really connect with Cress at all.  I didn't find her mannerisms to be very believable at all- I guess I have it in my head how I think someone who'd been all alone for what, twelve years, should act (I made it up, of course, I certainly don't have any idea for reals) and Cress just didn't act like that. At all. I thought her obsession with Thorne (my beloved Captain Jack Harkness forever and ever amen) was flighty and stupid and I'm pissed because I can't decide if she was right in the beginning and he truly is a good and decent dude, or if he's right when he tells her he only said nice things after the fact to get out of trouble. I hate not knowing things.

I could have done with some more Kai because I LOVE KAI, but all in all, I'd give this one a solid three stars.  I feel bad knocking it just because I didn't like Cress the girl, but it's more than that, I think she just wasn't written very well.  And I think it's a little tacky that there's now three girls and three dudes and they're all paired up nicely, but sigh, such is life, I suppose.  Regardless, I cannot WAIT for Winter, and I'll buy Fairest if it's ever less than say...four bucks.  They don't have these at my libraries, grrr.

Okay, for the back of the book in case you're interested:  In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army. 

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who's only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice. 

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

Final verdict: Not that great, but you sort of have to read it if you've read the other two, and if you want to know what's going on before Winter comes out in November.  Anyone read Fairest? Is it worth my time, and more importantly, my money?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Friday Favorites (17/4/15)


I love these shoes. I got a pair on sale at piperlime sometime when we were in Guam, so, most likely, before Daisy was born, or shortly thereafter. I wore them basically every single day in Guam and Hawaii, then we moved here and I can only wear them on warm sunny days.  So, four days a year.  Just kidding. Sort of.  Anyway, after three or four years, my soles finally wore down, so I started looking for a new pair.  Of course, I would DIE for a pair of Tieks, but two fifty on shoes isn't really something I can even wrap my mind around (and if I'm honest, I couldn't handle the teal on the heel- shudder), and I'm super impressed by how COMFY my Luckies are, not to mention that they've lasted SO LONG, so I just ordered another pair.  Of the exact same shoes.

Have I ever mentioned how boring I am and how much I hate change?

But alas.  This is me, and I've made peace with it. So, if you're in the market for cute comfy flats that won't cost a fortune and will last forever, here you go.  You're welcome.

2) Speaking of those perfect and life affirming Lucky flats (how I love those shoes), I guess now that I'm an old lady I have to wear sock with flats? Is that a thing? My feet sweat so much (even when it's cold because um, well, it's usually cold here?) that they slip in those shoes.  Is it because they're on the cheaper side? Is it whatever they're made of? My feet sweat in my topsiders and my toms too though.

Anyway, point being, I used to always wear these (sort of nylon maybe? They feel like panty hose) bootie thingies. But nylon doesn't do anything for sweat so it was useless.  I've worn these ones from Old Navy about five times (I washed them between wearings grosso!!) and I love them.  They got mixed reviews, but I have nothing but good things to say.  They've got some sort of magic rubber in the heel that keeps them in place (I walked for a good three hours maybe? Yesterday in the city. They didn't budge.) and they're completely invisible, I'm wearing them in the shot above.  Two for eight bucks is good enough for me, so I'm set.

That being said, I didn't know if I'd like them and I needed to add something to an order at Amazon to get free shipping, so I also ordered this Hue version the same week, but they haven't come yet.  US mail is a little weird. They're basically the same exact price (four for 16) so God help me decide which ones to stockpile if I like them both equally. Engelbrecht doesn't do decisions, ya'll.  #statetheobvious

3) And as long as we're sticking with feet for a while, I just got the kids each a pair of Natives for the 'summer' this year.  I have a thing about crocs (why is the toe SO WIDE) and I've got Ava toms the last few years and she never wears them and last year I got the boys Vans and they HATED them, so long story even longer, I went with Natives this year. I got everyone the Jefferson version in different colors, Scott's are some sort of zebra print.  He's the only one who's not wild about them (he takes after his mama when it comes to change) but Daisy is OBSESSED with her hot pink ones.  She has talked me into letting her wear them to school every day this week even though I always say no.  Ava and Warren each change into theirs every day after school, which for Warren doesn't mean anything, but to get Ava out of her beloved trainers? That's a big deal ya'll.

I don't have any pics though.  They look like kids wearing Natives. I lucked out and Nordstrom was doing some sort of price match, so I took the time to pick the colors they were matching and got them for twenty seven bucks for the babies (that's cheaper than crocs!) and thirty five for Ava and Scott.  Amazon has them too, but I was having a terrible time getting sizes and colors to match up, the Nordstrom website was just easier.  And they do free shipping, NO MINIMUM.  Nordstrom is fixin to edge out Amazon for my favorite place to shop.  Which brings me to...

4) PHILOSOPHY NO REASON TO HIDE (it's a tinted moisturizer type thang)

Granted, I only had one of those sample packs.  So I've literally only used it once.  One day.  But. When I did use it, it was basically like the heavens opened up and angels sang and little beams of light made it thru the roof and walls and illuminated my face in a glowing radiant ball of wonderment.  So obviously I raced downstairs to order a real bottle.  Fingers crossed it wasn't a fluke.  Damn those samples!! They always get me!

Stay tuned, I know you're gonna lose sleep waiting to hear how this one ends.  Will she love it? Will she hate it? Will her husband divorce her because she's out of control with online shopping? TUNE IN FOR THE NEXT INSTALLMENT OF AS THE BORING HOUSEWIFE'S ORDINARY WORLD TURNS!!


So you know I just took up knitting. You know, because I talk about it ALL THE TIME. I actually talk about it a lot more than I actually DO it, because it's really sort of hard. I first got the craving to learn how to knit when Elise made 29 knit blankets last year. I wanted to just buy one of hers, but they were a hundred and ten bucks and 36x36. Um, no. I can make a dang 50x64 QUILT for a hundred and twenty.  So that wasn't happening.  And they sold out super fast anyway.

So I googled and bitched to Angela about not wanting to spend the money on needles and yarn in case I couldn't figure it out, and she got sick enough of listening to me that she sent me two sets of needles and a few balls of yarn for Christmas and bam, I was off.

This video is the one I used when I very first got started.  I spent hours (literally) just practicing the way she casts on because I couldn't figure it out.  And low and behold (lo and behold?) I got it!! I can cast on like a pro.  As long as I'm watching the video while I do it...

And now I usually go straight to this dude when I get confused about something or want to learn a new stitch.  He's got TONS, he's very well spoken and calm and just really good.  I'm also taking this class at Craftsy to try to get faster, but I've only done two lessons.  Whomp whomp.  I don't see speed in my future.  I do, however, absolutely LOVE holding the yarn in my left hand (thanks Jodi!!) and I've been doing that almost from the get go.  I feel like if I tried to swap back to my right, it'd feel REALLY weird.

I still haven't decided on my favorite types or yarn or favorite brands of needles, but I really like Addi needles. And Nick got me the set I wanted for my birthday, so hopefully I'll get the chance to dick around with those soon.  And this is the yarn I think Elise used on those blankets, which explains why my tiny little baby doll blanket isn't knitting up like hers- my yarn must be almost half the diameter of hers.  Oops. How did I manage to screw that one up? That just goes to show you, you should ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS spend fifty hours googling shit before you do it.  Then you won't have this problem!!!

So those are my favorite things for this week.  You got anything I should be trying? Linking up with Momfessionals for Friday Favorites.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Week in Cornwall

So for the second week the Easter term break, we headed down to the Cornwall coast with Megan and her kids.  I've been wanting to go there forever (okay, since I saw About Time) and I can say after being there for four days, we will DEFINITELY be going back.  It was sort of absolutely perfect and spectacular.

It was a four hour drive, but with stopping and traffic, it took us at least five.  We stayed here, in a town called Tintagel.  I guess it's Northeast Cornwall? Megan stayed a few doors down but I acutally never went to check out her house :( Ours was very basic, no frills.  Two bedrooms, one bath (upstairs) good sized living room, full kitchen, washer outside in the shed, fantastic yard.  When the haze lifted, you could technically see the water, but I certainly wouldn't agree with the Stunning Sea Views they listed it as.

The first thing we did was head to St Nectan's Glen to hike to the falls. The website for the Glen seems to be on the fritz, so if you're headed that way, the postcode is PL34 OBE, you park on the side of the road and then follow the signs.  The initial hike is to a little cafe where you pay for the falls and if you didn't wear wellies (we didn't...) she'll let you borrow a pair there.  The guidebook didn't mention it, but it's a pretty big deal: YOU HAVE TO STAND IN AT LEAST A FOOT OF WATER TO EVEN BE ABLE TO SEE THE WATERFALL.

Seriously.  It's not like 'oh you might get a little splashed'- the waterfall is behind a mountain and you have to GO INTO THE WATER to see it.  Trust me on this one folks, wear wellies.  If she hadn't had some to lend us, we would have been screwed.  You literally cannot see ANYTHING until you're IN the water.

The next day, we headed over to Tintagel Castle, which they say is the birthplace of King Arthur, but then right under that they say haha just kidding it's not really.  Very strange marketing.  It's on the English Heritage so if you have that, it's free.  And it is STUNNING.

There's also a beach when the tide goes out (you have to have the tide tables for your entire Cornwall vacay, just FYI) and we climbed down there to laugh at everyone in the freezing cold (literally freezing cold) water.

Thursday we rode the train around Bodmin, but it was sort of lame after the AMAZINGNESS of our Switzerland train experience.  So be warned before you book that.  Then we had a quick pastie for lunch (at Warren's Bakery lol!!) and headed to Golitha Falls for what not even lazy Engelbrecht here can describe as a 'hike'- it was just a walk.  Very nice.

We wanted to try to hunt down some of the Stone Circles around Bodmin, but it just wasn't in the cards, so we headed down for some fish and chips and ate out at a playground because the sun doesn't set still after seven now.  Hooray for summer!

Friday we had to leave (sucks, I definitely could have spent a few more days down there and I'm already looking for long weekends we could escape) but before we started the drive, we headed for the most amazing part of the trip- Boscastle Harbour. Second only to that train ride in Switzerland at those two lakes, this is the absolute coolest thing I've ever seen.  Yes, even cooler than when we did the Cliffs of Moher because you're RIGHT FUCKING THERE. And we were the ONLY people there, unlike Moher where there were probably seven billion people pushing me around.

The Coastguard tower looked about nine miles away, and I was thisclose to saying screw it, but Megan gently talked me into it and OHMYGODITWASSOCOOLTHANKYOUMEGANFOREVERANDEVER.

Then we drove home and it took forever because the entire country was also driving home.  The end.

But seriously, Cornwall is amazing and I have to go back.  If you get the chance, I highly recommend it.

Monday, April 13, 2015

(Not So) Little Old Lady

So I'm thirty three now.  Thirty three years old.  I've been married for thirteen years.  I've been a mother for almost ten. I've been out of my daddy's house for fifteen years.  I've been in charge of my own homes (not including college apartments) for eleven years.  I've been making my own decisions, doing basically whatever I want, for SO LONG.

It's mostly awesome.  I love being a grownup and I would literally NEVER go back to being sixteen, literally.  I can't come up with a sum of money that's enough to send me back there. My high school experience certainly wasn't horrifying, I had Angela and my parents weren't monsters...but still.  The very thought of it makes me shudder.

I've ALWAYS wanted to be older.  "In my thirties" always seemed like the perfect goal (um, you can't really have 'being in your thirties' as a goal Zandee...) and now that I'm here, it's mostly rad.  Of course, I wish I was thinner (but not enough to stop eating the Easter chocolate and exercise) and of course I wish I had a little more money (but not enough to stop shopping for things I don't want OR need) but other than those two things... I'm content.

I have wrinkles and acne, but not enough of either to make me want to put a paper bag over my head before I leave the house. I have anxiety and depression that are both sort of a drag, but I'm managing them both well enough that I can leave the house, and I don't spend (too many) hours crying into my pillow, unable to get out of the bed. My body does what I tell it to (for the most part) and I'm reminded every single (loud obnoxious) day that it created four healthy babies and carried them until they could survive outside on their own (loud and obnoxious though they be out here).

These things are nothing to turn my nose up at.

Of course, I'm scared of dying and getting older just brings me closer to that inevitablity, but I know I'm saved by Christ's blood, so even that isn't REALLY scary, because I'll be you dollars to donuts it's not so loud in heaven. I'm more scared of losing Nick or one of my babies, but that's a severe trigger for me, so let's not dive into that rabbit hole, kay?

So for me, at least, getting older is pretty cool.  I love the freedom.  Sixteen year old Jenn wouldn't dare go to the movies by herself, now, I do it on the regular.  I still hate to eat by myself, but that won't be a problem till next year when Junebug is in school during lunch and I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

The best part is the KNOWLEDGE.  Now, I know that having my heart ripped to shreds at the end of my freshman year is not, in fact, going to KILL ME DEAD. I know that less than eighteen months later, I will be married to the father of my four (loud and obnoxious) children, the man who will quite literally sweep me off my feet and cart me all around England and Europe and various tropical island, all with the four (loud and obnoxious) children in tow.  Get off the floor Zandee, this heartbreak is NOTHING!!!

Now, I know that leaving Angela after graduation isn't the end of the world, and that even though we're going to have a few years of bumpiness, we're still going to be just as much a part of each other's souls as we were for those five years between eighth grade and senior year. I know that even though it's hard and doesn't actually get any easier to leave the friends the Navy drops into my lap, there's new friends out there, even for hermit Jenn.  My heart aches for Melissa and Yvonne and Libby and Laura, but in London I found Samantha and Megan, and c'mon, those two aren't chump change. And I know that times are different, and leaving isn't forever. There's texting and facebook and even meeting your non lesbian soul mates via blogs, of all things.  Hey Holly!! I'm talking about you!! And I miss your texts!! And your tiny circle face in those texts, from that pic of you and your sisters when you're about ten ;)

I know that leaving my beloved Virginia house isn't the end of the world (Man, Past Jenn sure was dramatic.  Who knew? Why did she think that everything was 'the end of the world'? Oh wait.... she still hasn't quite outgrown that one... oops) because even though we haven't owned a house or done any bloodsweatandtears renovations since then, I've managed to pound out a home in each of our successive houses, and it all worked out. I know that the series finale of Lost isn't the end of good television (yes, this is actually something I worried about that fateful May) and that even though the end of Harry Potter did sort of mark the end of an era, I know now that there are still good books to be found.  Although nothing that good.  Yet.

I know now that I can, in fact, love a male child.  If I could tell Past Jenn just ONE of these revelations, it would be that one. I'd lean over that ultra sound table where she lays sobbing and whisper it's weird, and you'll never believe me, but having a baby with a penis isn't the end of the world.  He's AMAZING and you love him JUST as much as you love Ava, it's just different.  And soon you'll have another girl at last, and guess what, she's different than Ava too!! DIFFERENT ZANDEE!!! People are different.  And penis or no, you'll love him to bits.  And his brother. Yes, there's another penis coming.  Ugh. But have faith skinny crying Past Jenn!! You'll be fat, but you'll love your babies and all will be well. 

Man, Past Jenn is sort of a drag.  Seriously, having a boy is the END OF THE WORLD?!?! Get over yourself!!!

But that's the thing about getting older.  Hindsight being twenty twenty and all that bullshit. That boy who ripped my hearts to shreds freshman year taught me many lessons, and one of them boiled down to: you should never say that such and such were the best years of your life. You should ALWAYS be looking forward.  And while my thirties are the best years I've had SO FAR, I know it's only going to get better, because history.  And you can't argue with the facts: my teenage years, hard as they were, were certainly better than being young and not allowed to do anything or spend every Friday night at Angela's house on Violet Street, basically competley unsupervised but still making the right choices.  Man, we were so responsible and we didn't even know it!! And my twenties were VASTLY better than those awkward and confused teenage years, I don't think I need to give any examples lol. And my thirties so far have been INFINITELY better than my stressful and rushed twenties, not the least of which because NO PREGNANCIES AND NO BABIES!!! So the facts remain: it just gets better.  And I can't wait.

Let's do this, thirty three.  Because I cannot WAIT for thirty four.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Knitting Needle Roll Thingie Tutorial

*We've been on vacay, but I wrote this out ages ago and set it to post while we were gone, but whomp whomp, I still don't know how to use a computer, so here you go*

So I've always wanted to do a tutorial post, no idea why. So...that's what I did.  It's certainly not the best out there, I hate math and I only used my phone and got about half the pictures I should have. But I'm pretty excited to share.

I made a roll to store my knitting needles in.  I've been trying to make project bags and that is just NOT working, so I figured I could toss this in my Grown Ass Lady tote with my wip and call it good. I't got tons of nooks for all your needles, scissors, tapestry needles, DPNs, tiny boxes of stitch markers, pens, and my handy dandy tape measure. If I can ever find it.

Here we go!

You will need:

5 Pieces of Fabric:

-Outside Main: 15in wide x 21in tall

-Lining: 15x21

-Tallest Pocket: 15x10.5

-Middle Pocket: 15x8

-Shortest Pocket: 15x5.5

-You'll also need two pieces of ribbon, about 20 inches each.  I had to make my own, which sucks, but if you need to do that, I can show you how. I just didn't want to wait till I could run to the store.  How do I not own ribbon?!?!

-And of course, scissors, rotary cutter, thread, ruler, sewing machine...all that jazz.

I wanted mine 'quilted' for no real reason- mostly because I had a few leftover HSTs from when I made my favorite quilt last autumn and I've been DYING to use them for something. And if you quilt it, it'll be all formed and sturdy without needing interfacing...which I also didn't have on hand.

So. Cut all your fabric.  Attach interfacing if you're going that route. I cut some cheapo batting down to 15x21, arranged my squares how I wanted them, filled in the gaps with some solid scraps I had laying around, then made the quilt top and quilted it to the batting.  If you're using just a normal piece of fabric, you don't do any of this.

So the first real step is hemming the tops of the pocket pieces. I wanted my hem facing me, like a lip on the tops. You might want them folded back, hidden. But you'll have the stitches, so I don't know how that would look.

Fold the top down a quarter inch all along the length, press in place. Fold over again so all raw edges are concealed. Press again. I did NOT measure this, I like to just wing it.  Live dangerously.

Do all three pockets.
Sew the hem down on all three pockets.  Press again for good luck.

Clear off your workspace so you have room to do shit. I skipped this step and it sucked.

Lay the big Lining piece down, right side up. Lay the Tallest Pocket on top of it, ALSO right side up, which feels a little weird if you're used to sewing right sides together. Line up the BOTTOM. In Regular Math World, the sides will also line up. This of course was not the case for me, so I just centered it as best I could.

Now make sure you're holding a FABRIC MARKING PEN and not one of those thin Sharpies you use to write all over washi tape.  THIS IS IMPORTANT.

Use your ruler to make STRAIGHT lines every inch.  My measurements were way off, so I got 15 lines.  You want to start on the left, and make the first one like an inch and a half from the edge, because that half inch is going to disappear in the seam allowance when you sew on the main.

Go sew along these lines, backstitching enough to keep everything snug when you're sliding your needles in and out. I left the hem free so I've got a lip on each pocket.

Come back down (I sew upstairs and iron downstairs- don't get me started) and lay the Middle Pocket on top of the Tallest Pocket, right side up again. Now these lines are important- they have to match the Tallest Pocket lines almost exactly, or else your Tallest pocket cubbies will have random lines through them and they won't hold even the skinniest needle.  So your first line will be 2.5 inches from the left edge, which should be right on top of the SECOND line on the Tallest pocket.  Does that make sense?

Next line is two inches away, then another two, and so on and so forth- but again, these lines MUST match up with the Tallest pocket lines. Trust me on this.

Go up and sew those lines down, making sure to backstitch.  Snug is the word.  These pockets are for trinkets for me, I think regular people would stick their DPNs in them.  I don't use DPNs and doubt I ever will.  I do love trinkets though. And scissors.

Now lay the Shortest Pocket on top of the Middle, right side up.  Now you've got to match up your new lines with both the Middle and the Tallest lines, but since those should already be perfect, you should be good to go.  I don't normally go for perfect, but these just HAVE to be right.  Trust me.

Mark your first line 4.5 inches from the left. This should line up perfectly with the second line you sewed onto the Middle pocket.  Next line is 4 inches from the first, final one is another four inches away from that.  Go sew these last three lines and come back and press them all for good luck.  Or to set the seams.  However you wanna look at it.

So now you've got all your nooks and crannies done!!

Now the ribbon.  Either be a normal person and HAVE ribbon in your house, or make your own.  Get some leftover binding strips, 2.5 wide, around 20in long.  Press right sides together, sew, turn them right side out.  I have to do this every time I make my son a new purse (excuse me, LETTER CARRIER BAG) so I use two safety pins and another scrap of ribbon.  Feed it all the way thru, pin one side of the ribbon you're making, then pull that sucker all the way rightside in.

Then you attach the ribbons to the left edge RIGHT side of the pockets, raw edges together.  If you have raw edges. Attach them about nine inches from the bottom of the piece.
Home stretch!!

Grab your Outer Main and stick it on top of the lining and pockets, right sides together, keeping the ribbon nice and safe in the middle, NOT sticking out the side.  Pin it if you're a pinner. I'm not usually, but I was nervous about the batting, so I did this time.  Leave about four inches on top to turn it, but otherwise, sew it together! Clip your corners, turn it right sides out, press it one last time and viola!!

Now you just need to buy a shit ton more needles to fill it up.

So. My first tutorial.  It was hard as hell to put together...but for some reason it was super fun! I can see this becoming a habit.  Here's hoping it's not an annoying one.

Joining up with the Sew Can She Saturday Linky Party!!!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

What I'm Into (March 2015)

Reading: Well I got a little crazy at the library a while back.  I hit my ten book limit and had to put two books back.  It was devastating. Basically, Sophie's Choice. Ed And no, I don't think I'm being a little dramatic. I picked up Red Rising, The Farm, Saint Odd, Shopaholic, Teleportation Accident, The Martian, Code Name Verity, Miss Peregrine (which I have been looking for FOR YEARS), and Minecraft for Dummies.  That last one is for Scott.  Obviously.  But it did cut into my ten limit! He's so lucky I'm not like a regular mom, I'm a cool mom. I also grabbed a photography book if you're wondering why that's only nine. So yeah.  ALL THE BOOKS.  I'm on the waitlist for Girl on the Train and The Ice Twins, but here's hoping they don't call any time soon bc I can't take any more out!! Although actually, I could bc I've finished a few of those already.  And I can always make Scott get the Minecraft book himself.

Watching: Walking Dead.  Obvi.  I thought the second half of this season started slow and lame.  I wasn't sad that Beth had died because I don't like Beth, and I didn't even care that Daryl was upset bc I don't buy him caring that much about her.  I did feel awful for Maggie though, and I thought for sure she was going to kill herself.  I'm glad that Tyrese finally died.  I don't care that he was a pussy- I could have forgiven him that.  Not everyone can be a badass.  But he was a pussy who LIED and tricked everyone into thinking that he was a badass.  And that's just making yourself a liability.  So the episodes dragged until Carol went batshit on that kid.  Remember the speech?!?! Something along the lines of "If you tattle on me, I'll tie you to a tree and let the walkers eat you while you scream and no one will ever hear you." HELLO SEX OFFENDER.  Isn't that what they say child predators do?!?! Or really, I guess that's what anyone who needed to threaten you would do.  Anyway, it picked up after that.

I thought the finale was good, but not mind blowing.  I think it might be time to call it quits.  There's nothing wrong with bowing out gracefully.  At all.  It's certainly better than stretching it out until it's lame and awful. Cough Fringe cough.  And CSI. And I could go on and on.

But seriously.  Community of people who suck? Done it with the Governor. The Wolves remind us that people are more dangerous than walkers? Done it with Terminus and those dudes who wanted to rape Karl.

And I'm calling bullshit on Daryl walking into that trap.  NO WAY JOSE. I mean, there were tin cans strung up everywhere.  Trucks of food.  And Daryl of all people wasn't suspicious?!?! GIVE ME A BREAK!!!

Going: Going to see Letters Live tonight!!! Friends of ours from Auburn are here for the weekend and I'm gonna cheat on Megan and take her instead.  Last year was so epic, and this year is supposed to be even better.  Benedict Cumberbatch is supposed to read at least once every night, but I'll believe that when I see it. Regardless, I'm super excited, and even though I have no reason to think it, I'm hoping Loki might just show up.  What, he's got a great reading voice!! He might be there!! You never know.  I'm still devastated that I missed when Scully read, but alas.  There's nothing I can do about it now. Except maybe find the youtube... (language, but just a little)
Edit: I typed this up yesterday and forgot to post it! Scully wasn't there :( But Benedict Cumberbatch was, and he read a LOT. AND!!! Anna Bates was there!!! And Ellie Miller from Broadchurch!!! It was fun, but I have to say.... last year was better.  

Sewing: Ya'll, I finally feel like a REAL quilter. I think I'm  'straight line' quilting? I used duct tape on my tiny International Night quilt to mark up a crosshatch pattern (thanks Bestie!) and I'm sewing all along it and it's gorgeous and I love it and I'm OBSESSED. I can't wait to tape up Serena's quilt!!! Except first I need to make it.  Oops.

Looking Forward to Slash Haven't Planned At All: Well, we leave for a few days in Cornwall on Tuesday and I haven't cracked open the library book or pinned so much as a single Fun Things to Do in Cornwall.  I need to get on that.  As soon as I finish this episode of Supernatural.

What were you into this month?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Book Review: The Martian

It doesn't happen often (okay, it totally does) but sometimes a book is SO FRICKING GOOD that I have to do its review all alone.  I initially wanted to review The Martian and Red Rising together because Mars, but I refuse to make Mark Watney share space with anyone else.

Share space?!?! It's sort of a pun and I didn't even mean to!!

I almost don't want to review this book because I'm terrified that I'll say something moronic and it will make you NOT want to read it, when alls I want in the whole wide world is for EVERYONE to read this book.  And love it.  No pressure.

From the back of the book: I’m stranded on Mars.

I have no way to communicate with Earth.

I’m in a Habitat designed to last 31 days.

If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death.

So yeah. I’m screwed.

It sounds a tiny bit stupid, I know. BUT IT'S JUST NOT!!!

This book was absolutely the most thrilling book I've ever read. Granted, I don't read a lot of thrilling books (I have a bit of an issue with anxiety...) and normally, I steer clear of anything to do with space because it's scary, but this? This book was absolutely BRILLIANT.

First, Andy Weir is a god.  I think he might actually be a better writer than SK.  Maybe not a better storyteller per se (after all, this is ONE book, right?) but his writing style is absolutely flawless.  Plus? All! The! Exclamation! Points! I loved it for the Rosie Project and I love it even MORE here!

So the amount of research he must have done for this book is staggering.  Unless he either a: already knew all that chemistry and physics crap (some people apparently do just happen to know this?) or b: made it all up.  I hope he didn't make it up.  Even if he did, it sounds amazing.  Detailed step by step instructions for taking hydrogen out of the air to make it water (I think?) that didn't bore me even a tiny bit? WINNING.

The entire time I was reading this, I was frantically texting both my dad and Angela, trying to convince them to read it with me.  I kept snapping pics of my favorite lines, but truly, there were at least a hundred.  Spoilers abound, sort of.  But you can assume from the premise and the fact that it's more than one page that SOMETHING happens, other than Mark sitting in the HAB until he starves to death, so its really not too spoilery.

First, the line that made me fall in love with the book for the very first time.

His dumbassery almost got him killed!!! This is when I immediately stopped to text my father.

The next one is probably the most spoilery. Sort of.  You've been warned.

Then this one? This one made me fall in love with Mark Watney.  And Andy Weir.  I mean, he's trapped on Mars, all alone, and he still has a sense of humor? YES PLEASE.

And then these four gems are the ones I just happened to have shots of because I texted them to my dad.  Lol.  We have a great relationship right?

Glowing hot ball of radioactive death! And equally as hilarious since I say it ALL THE TIME: I'm exaggerating a little.  I DIE. The ONLY thing that would have been better is if he'd said he MIGHT BE exaggerating a little, bc that's what I usually say.  Anyway.  We've also got the classic that's what she said.  The one that made me laugh until I cried, as with most of life's problems, this one can be solved by a box of pure radiation.  And another example of the brilliance of Mark slash Andy Weir- at the prospect of sitting around doing nothing for twelve hours: I better get started! Complete with exclamation point.

Also hilarious, but I didn't take pics: when Mark finds a USB in his captian's stuff and realizes it's FULL of disco music- Disco. God damn it,  Lewis. On duct tape- Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped. On his laptop not working outside the hab: Maybe I’ll post a consumer review. “Brought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10."

I could LITERALLY do this for hours.  This book was HILARIOUS.  Also? Extremely moving and heartfelt, I sobbed my way thru the ending even though I'd cheated and read the end at the beginning. (I'm scared of space and had to make sure I wasn't going to have a problem.  Also, I'm addicted to looking ahead.  What of it?)

I loved every single thing about it.  Truly.  I cannot name one single thing I didn't like about it, not one. I'm EXTREMELY nervous about Matt Damon being Mark in the movie, but I'm trying to remind myself of how hilarious he was on 30 Rock.

NOT HIT THE BIRDS.  That's what I do every day. 

So maybe there's hope. But I swear to God, if they fuck up this movie...I'll be really upset.  That's all I can do because I'm just me.  I'm not Mark Watney.

One more fabulous line before I head out: I started with a large rigid sample container (or 'plastic box' to people who don't work at nasa).

Okay, one more after that one.  I"m going thru my texts to my dad and I can't stop cutting and pasting!!! It's a problem.

I tested the brackets by hitting them with rocks. This kind of sophistication is what we interplanetary scientists are known for.

Okay, one more. Reflecting that his old professor says if you grow something somewhere, you've colonized it, so he's colonized Mars. 

In your face Neil Armstrong!!!

Oh shit, one more. I gotta look it up because I quit texting my dad because he never responded.   Work smerk.

I need to ask myself, what would an Apollo astronaut do? He'd drink three whiskey sours, drive his Corvette to the launchpad, then fly to the moon in a command module smaller than my Rover. Man those guys were cool. 

Bottom line: READ THIS BOOK.  Or seriously, we're not friends anymore. I know I say that a lot, but I mean it this time.