Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A cure for what ails you.

I definitely shared this citrus salad recipe on my long-hiatused (possibly abandoned) food blog last year, but think you would all benefit from making this now if you haven't already. Especially if you have scurvy. Or winter blues. It is very flexible, but you need, at a minimum:

1 grapefruit, peeled, seeded, and cut into bite-size pieces
2 oranges, ditto
1 apple, cored and chopped
Juice of one lime
Squeeze of your favorite sweetener (honey, agave, maple syrup)

Mix it up and eat it up.

I highly recommend the following additions:
1 stalk of celery, chopped fine
1 carrot, grated
1 inch of ginger, minced
1 cup cabbage, chopped fine
1 avocado, chopped or smashed (it'll fall apart in the salad anyway)
sunflower seeds

Substitute or add other citrus fruits. Blood oranges are particularly fetching in this salad. Eat it straight up or in a spinach salad with more avocado. Yum.

Making this salad is a good way to use the oranges that you previously zested for the following cookie recipe. Or making the cookies below is a great way to use up some orange peel.

Cranberry-Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies
3/4 c butter (1.5 sticks), softened
1/4 c sugar
3/4 c brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 T vanilla
Zest of one large orange
1 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 t + 1 pinch of salt
3/4 t baking soda
1/4 t nutmeg (optional)
1/2 c oats
3/4 c dried cranberries
3/4 c bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in egg, vanilla, and orange zest. In another bowl, sift together flours, salt, baking soda, and nutmeg (if using). Mix dry ingredients into wet, then fold in the oats, cranberries, and chocolate.

Bake on a non-stick sheet or parchment for 8-10 minutes. Remove and let cool on the pan for a few minutes, then slide onto a rack to finish cooling. Makes about 3 dozen.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bits and bobs and odds and sods.

Hello holiday chickens. I feel like I need to report on Dressember, since I haven't been taking any pictures. My first confession is that I spent at least 48 solid hours of this still-young week in pajamas. We have a mandatory furlough this week, which is sort of like vacation but more military-sounding and with less (no) pay. As a result, I ain't doing jack shit, which is awesome. I have watched about 20 episodes of Bones.

On Christmas Eve I was on pageant duty as usual (part of my church gig; the pageant is in my contract) and somehow found myself on the 23rd of December going "awwww shit, why do I still not have a white shirt?" I have had this church gig for 11 years and the dress code for the pageant (white top, black bottom) has not changed, and yet I have a total block about white shirts. I would never tell you that a crisp white button-down is a wardrobe essential unless you are that way inclined! Although it does seem that some sort of white top is a wardrobe essential for ME and I just refuse to grasp that fact. So there I was on December 23, shopping, the absolute last thing I wanted to be doing, and as I rifled through the consignment racks for everything remotely white I flashed back to last year, when I was doing the same thing at the same time. Bah, white! Bah, I say. But I found something that actually fits my aesthetic, more or less, and it was $10 and will fit next year whether I lose weight, gain weight, or give up this church gig. And unfortunately it looked stupid with my black skirts, so I caved and wore it with pants.

Apart from these wardrobe kerfuffles (or non-kerfuffles), there have been a few skirty outfits. Cute ones, even! And you may rest assured that I will repeat them later, photograph them then, and document. I have honestly had not the slightest inclination to wear pants this entire month (apart from the pajama pants that I wear even now). And my boot wardrobe has magnified, thanks in part to my husband's Chrimbo gift of North Face Adrianne IV boots, and to me boots mean skirts. For there is no scenario in which I will be able to tuck pants into boots, given that all my pants have the widest legs possible and all my boots have nary a whit of space to be given over to anything other than calf. So boots mean skirts, and I'm going to keep on wearing them even when all of this Dressember biznass is over.

Okay I do tuck pants into boots in one circumstance, and that is when I am wearing pajama pants and I put on wellies in order to go out into the snow to move my car. But even that I did not have to do this week, despite the snow emergency and the 48 hours of pajamas, because my husband moved my car. Since he takes up the entire garage, I think this is only fair.

I have been on a diet of cookies for about 2 weeks. The less said about this, the better, though I will probably share a cookie recipe with you in the next few days. It uses whole wheat flour, so, you know. Marginally more virtuous.

The ceiling stopped leaking, at least for the time being. The recipe for continued success seems to be hyper-vigilance w/r/t raking snow off of the roof in problem areas, along with chucking some salt pucks up there to open channels for melt water to escape. Yeah, salt on the roof/in the gutters is not the optimum solution for anything, but it's what we've got until we can undertake the larger, shittier project of reinsulating/remodeling/reroofing or whatever else needs to be re-ed in the spring. The cats really enjoyed it when the couch was in the middle of the room due to the leak, though, so we probably left it there longer than was strictly necessary.

As for the cats, things seem to be going well. I'm pretty sure Momo has blocked anal glands and I'm absolutely sure I'm not going to be the one to express them, but apart from that everyone is continuing to adapt to life with two kitties. I've now seen Ace subject her to 4 savage groomings, where he vigorously licks her head and face and it's adorable and then he chomps her in the neck and a fight ensues and I break it up. (Upon reflection, maybe it's not so much a grooming as it is a tenderizing.) And they have both slept in bed with us at the same time, Ace by our feet and Momo stretched wayyyyy out between us with her feet in the Brit's face. It's very cute but not the most comfortable situation if you want to be able to roll over freely. When the cats are not antagonizing/making friends with each other, I often find Momo playing in the tub OR, awesomely, sleeping in the cat bed Ace turned his back on long ago.

Family Christmas festivities were lovely as always. Really, if you're in town some year you should come over. As an added bonus this year, I got to be in hysterics for about a half hour as my 28-year-old sister unwrapped her very own American Girl doll and a whole crapload of handmade (by Mom) doll clothes, squealing steadily the whole time. I had further hysterics when my mother revealed that she'd rigged the gift exchange drawing so as to get Em as her giftee and make all of this happen. It was truly a (devious, weird) Christmas miracle. I actually laughed hard enough that when I had to go back and sing 5 solos at the late service, I was a little concerned about the state my voice was in. Oopsie.

Today I actually left the house (in a skirt) and scored some thrift cardigans and enjoyed my new boots and the sun and warmth (maybe 30 degrees F? dudes, that's balmy and I took my coat off to go in and out of the shops). But now I have to get back to my schedule of Bones-viewing, and after that I'm hoping for 12 hours of sleep (it hasn't happened yet on this furlough, but I have high hopes).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I loves me kitties.

Momo is a lithe, slinky, perky little cat, the exact opposite of Ace except in terms of extrovert engagement with humans: they both have that, and we're so glad. I like a cat that follows you around like a dog. She just seems like a well-adjusted animal, completely unfazed by an entirely new house and cat cohort. She has eaten the food, she has used the litterbox, she has slept happily in her quarantine room overnight (twice) and on our bed overnight (once). Plus, she smells like she's been rolling in dryer sheets.

Ace has moved from being unimpressed and skeptical to trying to lick her once or twice. They seems to want to investigate each other a lot but aren't yet cuddling up in a pile, which is my personal goal for this whole project. I busted out the cat tunnel (in which Ace has shown minimal interest historically) and it has been a great mediator. They sit at either end of it and stare at each other, or wage war from inside it. Mo generally rolls over at Ace, but growls simultaneously, which cracks me up: "I am fierce yet submissive!"

Since I know you all to be people who will look at internet videos of other people's cats, I will throw one up here as soon as I can edit one down to a reasonable length.

Not cat-related: we have ice dams on the roof, which is not new, but what IS new is that melt water has backflowed into the house and now the living room ceiling is leaking, BAH HUMBUG. Apparently everyone and her donkey is having the same problem today (it is "warm" at 30 degrees F--believe me, this is actually quite warm) and we won't be able to get a dude with a steamer on the roof until tomorrow. The person I finally got ahold of literally answered his phone from another roof. Which I guess is a kind of endorsement.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

CATS CATS CATS.

I'm picking Mo up on Sunday.

Adding a beastie.

Hopefully she and Ace will become happy life mates.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

This shit is B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

And to prove it, I made a short, crappy documentary about shoveling.

Shoveling out of the Snowpocalypse.

Hilariously incongruous salsa music in the background was unintentional, but maybe I should have put some in the rest of the vid. That wind you hear at the end? That wasn't messing around.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Five.

Things I am digging, that is:

1. Pomplamoose covers.



I love how low-key the singer is, and how hyped the dude is, a dynamic that is evident all over their videos. I have a few of their covers on my ipod, but a friend posted some of these videos on FB this morning and I am totally charmed. Everything they do is adorable yet not twee. Mostly because of Nataly Dawn.

Look at their youtube channel for more goodness, including Mr. Sandman, La vie en rose, Beat It...they're on some commercial too, but I can't think what.

Aw heck, here's one more video, with a bonus funky grandma:



2. Dressember. Yes, I more or less said this already, but I'll say it again even though I failed at getting dressed this morning (thought too hard, ended up in mostly black): I am digging the Dressember project. You can sing "Dressember" to the tune of the previous song if you like.

3. Ork Posters finally made a Minneapolis version.



So nice! Keewaydin/Wenonah holla!

4. Choir practice. You may not know this, but I am generally not crazy about singing in choirs. I totally understand why people get big thrills and soul-nutrition out of doing it, but it's pretty much always been a job for me, and my basic perspective during practice has often been on the order of "okay *I* am doing everything right but no one else is and so we have to keep repeating ad vomitum, wahhhhhhh." I still don't enjoy that aspect of choral singing, but at some point this season I just got a better attitude about actually being there. I can still zone out mid-rehearsal or get a big hate-on for a piece that sucks, but generally choir been a source of fellow-feeling, which is the entire point of communal singing.

5. Hunkering down. Apparently there is a big, massive, giant storm coming this weekend.



The weather blogger who posted this picture actually said "colors I haven't seen before," which I think is hilarious (clicking the pic will take you to the post). I'm not like a huge snow lover, but I don't mind laying in some supplies and having an Arrested Development (or whatever) marathon, and maybe busting out the snowshoes and the sweet Cloudveil softshell pants I found NWT at a consignment store for $20. I will not be doing that if the windchill is -30, however.

Anyway, a snowstorm is a good excuse to get cozy, and who doesn't like cozy?

If you can think of 5 things you dig today, let me know.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Dressember Eighth.

December 8, 2010.

This look was too equestrian for the Brit (he has a point), but I think it's my favorite so far. Realistically, the blazer is a bit too wee and was originally intended for the shop, but I thought I'd audition it anyway. I snagged it and the turtleneck at Goodwill by the pound. The skirt came from Value Village. It would look good with a tool belt, don't you think? It reminds me of a Utilikilt. The boots are from Endless, which I prefer to most other shoe retailers. The interface has always been very stylish and easy to use.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Le weekend.

Makeshift cooking is not dead
There is this very simple fava bean salad that I love on the salad bar at my co-op. I have eaten it for breakfast with marinated cucumbers and feta and little broccoli florets and dolmades and baked tofu many times, which makes me wonder why I bother with carb-bombs like (delicious homemade) granola. Anyway, I think the salad is just the beans and lemon and olive oil, so I recently thought "this is dumb, I need to make it at home" and bought some dried favas from the bulk bins. And then because my timing was all off with the soaking/cooking process this weekend I ended up making them in the crockpot, which is great if you don't want to be bothered but less great if you want any beans intact when they are done.

Should you find yourself with about two cups of dried fava beans that you have somehow inadvertently cooked down into near-mush, whizz them in the blender. Then, in a soup pot, saute a small diced onion and 4 cloves of minced garlic in a big glug of olive oil. Add your bean whizz to the soup pot with a half teaspoon of paprika, a teaspoon of cumin, and a little cayenne. Add a grated carrot and some frozen spinach and a cup or two of veggie stock. Simmer for awhile, then stir in the juice of one lemon and salt to taste. Serve with chopped cilantro. Voila: fava bean soup.

I also made "fast" no-knead whole wheat bread this weekend. It is NOT good-looking, but it tastes good and isn't dry and crumbly the way some (amateurish) whole wheat breads can be. If you make it, don't eliminate the rye flour--apparently the bread won't rise at all without it. As it was, this bread came out looking like a sad little brick, but it's totally grown on me since then. I'll probably try it again with a tablespoon of vital wheat gluten before I move on to this recipe. The Brit goes through a LOT of bread. It seems dumb not to be baking it.

Dressember
I have gotten through a week of all skirts/dresses, all the time, and I like it. Yeah, it's effing cold, but it's really nice to have a reason to pay more attention to my clothes. I should probably keep doing little low-key wardrobe projects like this because then I won't default to Urban Ninja Hippie, AKA Some Yoga Clothes Without the Yoga. Someone come up with another challenge for me to do after this month is over, otherwise I'll have to start lurking around on style blogs to find out what's up, and I'm already at max capacity for blog reading.

Shredd
I am also 30-Day Shredding this month, have I mentioned that? I thought it would be a good way to bridge the days between Thanksgiving and New Year's. So far, my favorite part of Level One is when she says "and you are well on your way to BEING shredded." Hilarious. But I like it. Nothing wrong with a 20 minute workout!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Internerd DJ.

I heard this song by Warpaint on the Current last night and I like it. I have to confess that I haven't thoroughly watched the video yet because I mostly wanted to hear the song again in the background while at work--but I like the vibe of the video, anyway (hey! it was directed by Shannyn Sossamon, she of the anachronistic hair in A Knight's Tale! Shut up, you've watched it more than once too). If you like Tegan and Sara but wish they would get dreamier and add more voices, you'll like this.

Apologies if there's a big old ad before the video streams.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Things I lurve.

Hoop earrings, yo.

I'm in a kind of smaller-sized earring phase right now--like, I actually love the way studs look, when in years past I was all about the massive shoulder duster. I think it's because with short hair, sometimes big earrings scream OMG EARRINGZ ARE WEARING MY HEAD! in a way that they never used to. Or maybe it's just a phase, like I said. Whatever the case, I still love these.

(Pics are links to the listings; shop names open a new window)

Train hoops with customizable graffiti by dmdmetal


Big nouveau hoop earrings by SkylarkStudio


Lotus hoops by ShihoYamashita (who is having a 10% off sale; see shop for details)


Planulae mini hoops by lilarubyking


Spaces hoops by Meetalls


Skull and bamboo hoops (YES!) by infraredstudio (who is on vacation until 12/6)

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Dressember.

It is the month of Dressember, so in honor of the stupidly cold weather AND my half-assed projects (see NaBloPoMo), I will be wearing mostly dresses (but sometimes skirts) all month long. I thought I wouldn't have enough goodies to do this without wearing a lot of the same stuff over and over, but in reviewing my wardrobe remix shots and my photos of unsold inventory, I realized that I actually have quite a few options. I am in fact wearing a skirt pillaged from shop inventory today, because it fits perfectly and I am not currently running my shop. The shop was getting to be a thing that hung over my head instead of a fun little side project, so I decided a break was in order.

I also realized (again, after reviewing photographic evidence) that I have gotten rid of so many things that I now wish I still had. This includes items that I sold but wish I had kept for myself, like for example several 70s wrap skirts that I would now put to good use. Ah well, this is the price I pay for being productively ruthless in my closet. On the other hand, I have a closetful of stuff that I never got around to listing in my shop, and that is ripe for the picking, so it's not like I'm living a pared-down life either.

Anyway, I'll be posting the dresses/not dresses on flickr, but many of my outfit photos are friends/family only (I was having to block several fetishists of various kinds per week). If you're on flickr and we're not contacts yet, hook me up.

I can already tell this will be challenging. Besides the weather issue, I find that I struggle a lot with function and style in my clothing, even though I don't think the two need to be at odds. Today I like the way this pencil skirt looks and feels, but I'm super-annoyed at how hard it is to walk while wearing it, even with my shorter barefoot-style gait. Maybe that's why I was originally going to sell this skirt instead of keep it. I don't think I have a lot of other dresses/skirts that aren't practical for getting around in. As far as I'm concerned, there's no reason dailywear should impede my motions in any way.

Anyway, join me if you're up for it. I might have have to do some tights-shopping.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Yo baby yo.

Here, let me celebrate my unintentional break from NaBloPoMo with another Etsy roundup, this time for the adorable munchkins in your life.


Shanghai Baby yoga pants by Mokupepe


Boo Winter Coat by belleandboo


Wool slippers from upcycled sweaters by woolybaby


Charlie Bird print by matteart


Organic hand-dyed and screenprinted BMX bike shirt by WrenWillow


Memory matching game by LemonTreeStudio


I Want to Rock With You print by yumalum


Terracotta and blue beanie and booties set by carameldiezel


Dixie the Triggle by morninglori


Retro Coveralls by redpajamas

I seem to be getting another cold, to my great, great irritation. I'm going to take some vitamins and try to ward it off. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Willanator.

Because Willa is turning 3 tomorrow, we will not only have gingerbread pumpkin trifle at Thanksgiving, but also Barbie cake, and sparkly red shoes. A birthday party is an extra thing to be thankful for.

I'm having a hard time believing this, but apparently I never posted this picture of Willa from pre-Halloween shenanigans. The costume plan was princess, but late in the game she said Spiderman and they already had a costume from one of the boys. So she put that on and then said "I want my hair," meaning the princess wig/tiara. And Spiderman Princess was born, and she apparently got a LOT of attention during the parade of costumes.



Unfortunately, I wasn't there to see it, nor do I have other documentation of the event, but that's how it went down. For trick-or-treating, she went back to princess. She knows how to party.

IMG_7846

We shall celebrate her tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Another installment from your internet DJ.

The context of the total musical rabbit hole I jumped down today is this: Chanticleer made a music video. It's a cover arrangement of a song I'd never heard of, "Cells Planets," by the band Little Grey Girlfriend, which I'd also never heard of. Chanticleer, FYI, is the renowned men's chamber choir that my good friend (who I think is going by Disparate Houseboy in the comments, what up DH) toured the world with for years. We used to see a lot of the Chanticleer doods.

Here's the video. The big hat tip goes to BCSM.



So that's good, right? It's beautiful. I like what they did story-wise, and it makes good sense for a bunch of people who are constantly touring. But then I was all like, what is this song and where did it come from? Which led me to Little Grey Girlfriend. And then to Emusic, where I downloaded the album that "Cells Planets" is on.

I really want you to listen to the original track, so just do me a favor and click the link and start playing the song while you read this, unless you're in one of those "I don't have time for music and video" modes. I completely understand. Just come back later.

Or you could watch this, one of their two music videos, this one for the song "Fulfill."



This is an interesting band. For obvious reasons, I am always in favor of melodies that have more than three notes and singers who have a wide and beautiful range. The singer, Erika Lloyd, has a music degree from the opera factory (Indiana), which seems to be a key point in her biography (let's be honest: it would be in mine, too, if I ever did non-classical musical endeavors). I doubt she gets much work/attention as a classical singer, but that's kind of beside the point. The point is that she's great in this band and I really like her songwriting. And her voice reminds me of someone specific that I haven't been able to pinpoint exactly, yet, so I'm posting for you a bunch of other people that either sound like her or kind of exemplify that which I dig in (non-classical) singing by ladies.

The first one, and one Erika Lloyd really reminds me of, is Laura Nyro. I could swear I blogged about Laura Nyro before, but maybe I just posted songs on facebook and imagined the bloggin. I believe I had this master plan to unveil the fact that I started listening to her because of the De La Soul song "Trying People," which I really loved. The song sampled a Laura Nyro joint called "Blackpatch" as performed by the 5th Dimension. I'm skipping the video because this post is already ridiculous enough, and because I couldn't find all the, ahem, De La Soul documentation I needed on the youtube for you. That was another whole rabbit hole, seeking out the source of the sample lo these many years ago, but I am so glad I did it because Laura Nyro kicks ass. This is "Gibsom Street."



I discovered and became enamored of the band Fleming & John basically right after they stopped operating as a band. They've been doing other stuff, just not putting out their own records. Fleming is the singer. This is "I'm So Small." It's allll about the chorus. This whole record, The Way We Are, is full of great hooks and great writing. I can't believe it's not on my ipod already.



So Adele. I cannot get enough of this voice. There's a clip of her singing on Jools Holland more recently that's been circulating the innertubes lately, and even though I know I'm hearing vocal damage on "Someone Like You" (sorry, occupational hazard), I dieeee when I listen to her. This one, "Daydreamer," is older, from her first record and probably before touring etc took its toll on her voice. What I love about it is the amount of control and stylistic finesse she has, especially for someone so young. Listen to the whole thing, but the money starts at about 1:00.



Okay, I struggled with which Kate Bush song to post because I love so many of them, but I think this one, "Rocket's Tail," is my favorite. I listened to this tape, yes cassette TAPE, constantly in high school. I remember rainy days with all of my beads and findings spread out on the dining room table, listening to The Sensual World and making jewelry for hours. How did I not turn out to be more of a patchouli-scented gypsy dancer? I ask you. Anyway, I love that her backup singers, here and on the rest of the album, are a Bulgarian trio.

Aside: aren't fan slide shows posted with songs on youtube hilarious and awesome?



Aw hell, here's bonus Kate Bush: the video for "Army Dreamers."



Basically if you like piano rock, and you wish Regina Spektor would come out with another record but maybe use lots more backing vocals and be a little weirder as in days of old, Little Grey Girlfriend will totally tide you over.

Monday, November 22, 2010

For the freak-folk fairy in you.


Felted merino wool slippers by ing00te.


Handmade kitchen brooms by BROOMCHICK.


Moss Rules photograph by my girl jagosaurus.


Extra wide leg pants in olive, by NewExtrave.


Handcrafted leather shoes by fairysteps.


Natural rough turquoise stud earrings by ovgilliesdesigns.


Winter Lace Study, an original watercolor by Niceharpy.

Anybody got a good parsnip recipe? I'll probably just roast them for Thanksgiving, but I'm open to suggestions.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Muffins.

I just made these vegan pumpkin muffins. They are rather delicious. Here's the recipe with the alterations I made:

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin (Fresh or from a can; do not use pumpkin pie mix)
1/2 cup soy milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons molasses
1/2 cup pecans

Sift dry ingredients; mix the rest separately; combine; add nuts; dump into muffin tin; bake at 400 for about 20-25 minutes.

I think these could stand to go more whole wheat, and probably even less sugar. I'll probably be eating them for the rest of the day. There's some crazy ice on the road, so I'm definitely not going anywhere.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I should get out more.

I just got back from one of those trips to Target where you wander around aimlessly and leave with a bag of what the hell. My bag includes the 30 Day Shred DVD, a bag of pecans, some humidifier filters, some stickers, and a pair of sparkly red maryjanes that are a backup birthday gift for Willa, and probably some other stuff. I was also looking for baby gifties for a friend, and once again I have to ask parents and caregivers how you can stand to shop for kids clothes. The genderpolicing is outrageous. All I want are some adorable baby clothes for babies, in some colors other than pink and blue, with some damn stars or rock and roll motifs on them, and I want them widely available instead of in specialty shops for bourgeois assholes. Don't get me wrong, if you want to dress your tiny boy in sports team gear, have at it! But that shouldn't be the only thing that's available. End rant. AGAIN.

Anyway, now I'm at home and I've made myself some hot chocolate and killed off a carton of soy milk in the process. It got me thinking: I have a specific way of collapsing milk/beverage cartons that I learned at Girl Scout camp. It might not be THE most useful thing I learned as a Girl Scout, but I certainly deploy the technique on a regular basis and I can't think of a single other concrete skill in current rotation that I picked up at GS. It's not like I'm making hobo dinners in the backyard (potato, onion, carrots, hamburger patty wrapped in tinfoil and chucked in the firepit).

I've been working my way through a big bag of WIPs (that's "works in progress" for those of you who get things done in a timely fashion) lately and ticked another one off the list today, to my GREAT DELIGHT. It involved installing a zipper, which I have never done before, and which I did very very inexpertly today, but you know, now I can wear the skirt and my butt doesn't show through. I think it was actually someone else's WIP when I got it. There were some tiny snaps sewed on to the skirt opening (to keep the butt covered, you see) and some raggedy hook and eyes that I salvaged for the waistband. I started this project three years (and like 10 pounds) ago, by the way. Hacked a maxi into knee-length, because it was a total hobble skirt and there are only so many occasions where a brushed-cord, velvety green maxi is an appropriate fashion choice. Hemmed it. Bought the zipper. And it sat and sat. Anyway, I dig it now. I'll show you pictures.

Also, Veronica Mars fans: have you ever noticed how many Big Lebowski references (or flat out homages) there are in season 3? I guess it's been a long time since I've watched it. You know, a long time ago. When we used to be friends. But I haven't thought of you lately at all.



ETA: Also! BSG references in VMars! Excellent.

Boot update.

Fit hacks accomplished!

November 19, 2010.

It's very annoying to me when lace-up boots are not adjustable--the tongue is sewn down, the laces are completely decorative, etc. I mean what's the point of laces if not to customize the fit of the boot? The tongue on these boots is tacked down in four places, discreetly stitched to the front of the boot and quite easily detached with a seam ripper. The circumference of the boot is probably big enough to accommodate your standard "athletic" calf as-is, but with the tacking removed, would go up to 19 inches or more (I can give more exact measurements if anyone is interested). I replaced the laces with plain brown waxed cotton cording, about $1.50 worth at Joann Fabrics. I think it's intended for jewelry. No actual shoelaces would have been long enough.

Apart from all that biz, these are comfortable. I've been looking for shoes with thin, flexible soles lately (on the barefoot tip, yo), and these fit the bill. The thin sole will obviously make them totally crap for winter wear, but I have my eyes on every pair of Steger Mukluks that shows up on ebay, so I'll hopefully be trading the green boots for warmer ones when the snow flies (more than it already has). In the meantime, I might make some wool felt insoles.

That's my boot story. The rest of the outfit is a mishmash of thrift and thrift's opposite (Prairie Underground hoodie).

Happy weekending, y'all.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Craftacular.

I learn so many amazing things from the internet.

Gumball Machine

Do you know about the book Rosey Grier's Needlepoint for Men? I do now. Evidently it's a cult craft book and I can totally see why.

Two Roseys

He published it in 1973, after his pro football playing days were over. He seems to have had a colorful and varied professional life even apart from the hardcore crafting, but the crafting is what I'm most interested in.

Needlepoint For Men

Someday I will find this book. Someday.

(check out the entire amazing photoset from Extreme Craft.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

More interweb DJing.

Hopefully this isn't my entire day's blog oeuvre, but you will like Adele's new single, "Rolling in the Deep," which sort of sounds like KT Tunstall and Gloria Gaynor got together and went bowling and cried in their beer. It's good.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Not much just shillin'.

I've been looking on and off for some flat lace-up boots that would accommodate my awesome leg chubb and as I was relaxing in front of season 7 Buffy* last night, I accidentally found some for cheap on Endless.


They're 9 West Casilda in olive-y green. I somehow got a promo coupon to work, so they were only $55. And they were eligible for free overnight shipping! I love the internet. Anyway, even though I ordered them late yesterday, they were delivered just now! And I think they're going to work. All I have to do is rip out the tacking on the tongue, and find longer laces, and then voila, boots that fit. They're also nice and tall. I'll check back in with a more extended review once the fit hacks have been accomplished.

*I'm realizing why I've never re-watched season 7. It's because it's tedious. I recommend seeing it through if you've not watched the whole show, and actually I liked a lot of the grown-uppy darkness explored in season 6, but overall I'm probably with the people who think the show should've ended the first time it ended (season 5). Just saying.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The first time I heard this song, the aggressively 80s-ness and all of the beeps and boops bugged the crap out of me. However, I keep hearing it on the radio and I find that it's getting to me. The singing at 1:20 is ace. And the song itself is like if "Love is a Stranger" and Erasure mated. Actually it's pretty much just like "Love is a Stranger." That right there should tell you whether you want to click play.



I refuse to google to find out whether anyone has mashed up LCD Soundsystem and the Eurythmics, but I do feel compelled to point out that this is a much more awesome song than the previous. Plus check out Annie Lennox's crazy-eye.



Also, I've been loving the John Legend/Roots joint.



I was listening to this recently and the Brit suddenly said "if I could have one drummer in the world, it would be him [?uestlove]. It's so tasty." Last week I was thinking about this statement when I got into the car to do something or other, and when I got back into the car and turned on the radio, dude was being featured on American Routes, which was a pretty cool radio synchronicity experience. I can't seem to get a link to the actual show, so just look for the one on Philly that aired last week.

Also, new Belle and Sebastian. Evidently Carey Mulligan is singing (sweetly) on this track.



Also also, this song tears me up every time I hear it. Seriously. There's a verse about his ex-MIL that gets me if I haven't already been got. Plus, sometimes I see him walking around my neighborhood, which is fun.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Do you read Kate Atkinson books? You should. I spent much of today reading When Will There Be Good News?, one of her "mystery" books, in its entirety. I say "mystery" with quotes because the ones (of hers) that I've read aren't your standard page-turning whodunits--more just novels that happen to have crime and intrigue and coincidence at their center. I also really liked Behind the Scenes at the Museum, which is not a mystery at all, but a fractured family history kind of book. I will say that Atkinson seems to have a thing for lost girls, as does Jackson Brodie, the detective who skips in and out of the mystery books. But the books manage not to feel same-y. They are also full of aggressively British cultural references that I feel all inside-scoop about knowing, as well as great descriptive language, e.g., a hippie-ish therapist "who looked as if she'd knitted herself," or "she liked the way he walked, like a bear wearing a nappy."

I had a crap night of sleep, the one I always have after I've worked hard on something important and before I need to get up at a specific time in the morning (7:15 for two church services). I can never relax enough on these occasions to get deep and dreamless, plus the cat was wedged between my knees and I couldn't get comfortable (but heaven forbid I disturb him). I was rewarded for my crap night of sleep with a massive spasm in my left trapezius, which spasm unfolded in slow motion as I was standing in the shower. The muscle currently feels like it is made out of coiled springs and knotted rope (and pain). My trapezius is actually pulling on my clavicle. It is a grody feeling that I will probably be stuck with for days.


My boss is going to be on vacation this week. Doesn't that seem like a great excuse to sit and do craft projects in my cubicle? If only I didn't have work to do.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I spent my day polishing a job application that I should have finished days ago and then drove it to the airport for expeditious mailing, only to discover that the post office can't guarantee it will get there by the deadline. OOPSIE DAISY. It's a really good application, too, even though my recording is maybe a little bit jive, since I had exactly one recent DVD performance to choose from and it's the one where I'm wearing a Little Mermaid wig. Anyway, now that I've got the video clips together, I may at some point put them on the internets, thereby proving to all of the people in the computer that I do have a professional life in music.

We have big sloppy snow on the ground. So much for the wacky 65 degree days of November.

Have you watched Bob Roberts lately? I told the Brit that when I first saw it many years ago, it seemed to me like hilarious skewering. Watching it in the current political climate is actually kind of chilling. The movie is depressing in its prescience. The disingenuousness and anti-intellectualism of the right, the ridiculous notion that a candidate worth 40 million could be considered a rebel...it is a cornucopia of very current problems, the most pressing of which is the unholy control that corporations have over government. But I have to go try to get some sleep now, so I won't get into all of that. At least we have the internet now. It's a lot easier for an average person to do some fact-checking, should she wish to do so.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sign o the times: I am making my way through the final season of Buffy and just viewed this hilarious bit of dialogue:

Willow: Have you googled her yet?
Xander: Willow, she's only 17!
Willow: It's a search engine.

How far we've all come since then.
I probably should have committed to posting every day but Thursdays. I can't get it together on Thursdays, apparently. It's usually a long day: work all day, then my choir job, and sometimes I teach a lesson in between. But last week I was just languishing sick, so I'm not actually sure what my excuse is. It's a gray, gray day, which is fine for tea and napping but really awful for editing and submitting meeting minutes from the meeting I barely understood. So many acronyms, so many software names, so many things I don't know and don't much care to know. My favorite (actually descriptive and totally appropriate) thing that kept coming up and that I had to google later was COMMON PAYMASTER. Doesn't it sound like a Puritan name, or maybe a fantasy game character? Bow to Common Paymaster. Common Paymaster is preaching on Sunday! Common Paymaster wants to give you 20 gold pieces.

I gleaned as much pep as possible (not that much pep, as it turns out) from a quick midafternoon stride around the park, and I wandered around the union looking for a snack that didn't involve a massive carboload or a bunch of packaging. That turned out to be a fool's errand, but it certainly set me up to be extra jacked when I remembered that I had a bunch of spinach in the office fridge. WOOO SPINACH, the most virtuous of all the snacks! I bet you Common Paymaster gets excited about eating spinach.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

We just started watching Parks and Recreation. Thanks, Netflix Instant Watch! Previously, we were enjoying nightly escape to Cornwall via Doc Martin, the British show about a crabby hemophobic village GP, but we finished all of those. And I finally made it through the Firefly pilot but I suspect the Brit will not join me for the rest of the space Western. If I go into space I usually have to do it by myself, which is fine.

Today was another day of unbelievable weather, so warm that it's shocking when 5 PM rolls around and it's already dark. At lunchtime, I hit the river trails and found myself thinking about trying to do some big (bloggable) project like walking all of the dedicated bike/walk trails in town, which I think I would actually really like to do. This is just a terrible time of the year to start that kind of a project, unless I just pick one every weekend and do it like that. I mean it's possible to go do them after work, thereby knocking out more mileage weekly, but what's the point of clocking some new hiking trail in the dark?




I gotta quit leaving this blogging thing til the end of the day.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Recently spotted while I was out walking.

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Granted, this was awhile ago. Before the trees lost their leaves, obviously.


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Yes, that is a Lake Creature.

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Now, the trees are barer, but it's still pretty.
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It is also more hilarious.
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I have seen the "Lord Jesus Saves" graffiti on many surfaces around the lake, but never with this tag appended to it. Let me zoom in on that for you.

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I think the "for later" is my favorite part.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Also.

A couple weeks ago we were out for brunch and I mentioned to the Brit's former bandmate that I wanted a djembe or something to beat on. And he was like "I have a nice conga just sitting in my parents' garage. You want to use it for awhile?" And then last night voila, conga.

The Brit asked me what I was going to do with it, whether I was going to have a drum circle of one and get naked and light some incense, and I said "hahaha, I'm going to play it." I'm going to chill in the basement when no one else is home and get a feel for the drum. And then someday I may learn to play it properly, but right now I'm just going to play.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

La la la.

Tonight I got to sing in a mock rehearsal for a friend's job audition DVD. I know that sounds sort of complicated and nonsensical, but basically he needed footage of himself conducting and so 5 of us convened in a chapel with excellent acoustics and and sang chamber music for 3 hours. I miss this--I used to sing in a quartet as part of my grad school assistantship, so for a few years I had weekly rehearsals and frequent performances with people/singers I really love. You don't become a musician to go sit in a room and practice alone, after all.

One of the things we busted through was this:



Except we were one to a part and had never sung it together before. We still rocked it.

It was a deeply peaceful way to spend my evening.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

I'm no superman.

I don't know about you, but I used to narrate my own experiences constantly--not quite like J.D. on Scrubs, but more like I was framing things to share later, to imbue them with literary significance. It's a common affliction, I suppose, one that blogging was born to nourish, but in me this tendency actually pre-dates blogging; I've kept a journal in one form or another since about 1985, and sometimes it felt like my life events (however mundane) weren't processed until I'd written them down. In my early 20s, I was in a long distance relationship for years, and for awhile emails to the boyfriend took the place of writing for myself. When we broke up, the most acute feeling was that nothing I was experiencing was quite complete--I'd been so accustomed to wrapping up my day by writing everything down for him, and suddenly that capstone was gone.

I said "used to" up there in the first sentence, as though I don't do that framing stuff anymore, but that's not quite true. It's just dropped off a lot, which is okay with me because presumably it means I'm doing a better job of actually having experiences while I'm having them, instead of getting premature nostalgia before they're over.

Last week, before I got sick, I went out for a walk and as I approached the lake, I could see a huge raptor in the distance, perched up in the dead tree along the shore. I've theorized that the tree hasn't yet been cut down precisely because it's an ideal raptor perch, and over the summer we often saw giant charcoal-colored mystery birds up in the tree, usually being gawped at by other walkers.

A few steps closer, and I made out that it was a bald eagle, and that there was another one nearby, and then they both took off, flying low, right towards me. I ran into the field that separates the lake drive from the neighborhood, hippity-hopping over loads of goose poo so that I could get a better look. I stopped right in the middle of the field just as the eagles must have caught a sweet draft, because they spiraled right over me long enough that I had to start supporting my upturned head with my hands. Then they biffed off into the neighborhood to make someone else's day.

In the old days I would've written a blog post in my head while I did the rest of my walk, but check me out, it's taken like 4 days for this to come back to me. I'll still file it under midwestern magical realism and you can draw your own conclusions about what the mid-afternoon joyous aerial hijinks of eagles overhead might mean.

Friday, November 05, 2010

The upside of being sick--when you have paid sick leave and a low-stress job, that is--is that suddenly there is plenty of time to watch hours of Buffy and lie on the couch and drink tea. The downside: being sick, plus getting a backache from lying in a contorted TV-watching position all day. I think I will be more fully operational tomorrow, which is good because we are out of vegetables, and the szechuan vegetables I ordered tonight were full of BEEF so I could not eat them. That was a setback, mood-wise. Also nutrition-wise, maybe? My carboloaded ass is going to sleep for another 10 hours.

Awww, man.

So four days in and I already screwed up daily posting. I don't think I get a pass for being sick because I was literally on the couch all day, mostly watching Buffy, and would it have killed me to pick up the computer and type "Day Four: I am sick"? I think not.

Oh well. After 10 hours of sleep I feel slightly better--at least the pounding headache is gone.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Foodstuffs.

Here is an important update to the Veganomicon Chickpea Cutlets recipe, with pictures at different stages of prep. These are one of my kitchen standbys, and I've made them with various beans and various seasonings, but I honestly think the original chickpea, sage, and lemon zest is best. Zest is best!

This week, I've been eating quinoa for breakfast, mostly because I ran out of steel cut oats. Here's how:
1 c quinoa
1 c water
1 c apple cider
1/4-1/2 c dried cranberries
1 chopped apple
1/2 t ground ginger
Combine in a saucepan, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed. Eat with chopped toasted almonds (essential) and soymilk. This will feed you for about 4 mornings.

I'm coming down with a cold, so hopefully some good fairy will swoop down tomorrow and a) repair me and b) hook me up with some veg-loaded miso soup.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Pictures of the cat.

It's likely that a lot of my NaBloPoMo content will actually be cat pictures. Such as these.

Investigating a weird-ass pumpkin.

One of my students volunteers at the landscape arboretum and he brought me this alleged pumpkin awhile back. I love it. It looks like a sculpture. So that's how I'm treating it for now.

Investigating a weird-ass pumpkin.

Monday, November 01, 2010

NaBloPoMo.

Pretty much the only way I can guarantee a steady flow of blog content is to commit to daily posting every November. Unfortunately for you, there is no way to guarantee any particular level of quality on a daily basis, but I'll try.

Some things, mundane and otherwise:

Thing 1: a jerk or jerks smashed one of the windows in my car the other night. The car was (per usual) fulla crap and nothing was stolen. Probably because the majority of the crap was music books? I don't know. The super-fun detail about the smash is that every surface of the car, including the music books, was encrusted with glass cubes. Another fun detail is that no one had the window in stock and the window people are overnighting one from Fargo, so the car's been sitting in the garage since Saturday.

Thing 2 is that my phone is crapping out. I'm trying to resist buying a smartphone, because I don't think I need one even though they are sexay. Mostly I don't want another contract. But if you're not renewing a contract, phones seem very expensive all of a sudden. I'm wading through a profusion of new (yet old) phones on ebay for a quick phone fix, so if any of you have a beloved old GSM phone model to recommend, let me know.

Thing 3, more important than the prior two things: one of my good friends, who was up until today also happily my coworker and partner in cubicle prairie-dogging (you know, when you stand up to talk to someone in another cube), up and moved to Oakland with her husband. Technically they are leaving tomorrow, but we said goodbye amid our cubes today and then I had to get a little weepy at my desk, even though I am so happy for them about their adventure. And fortunately I still have one office mate I really like.

Thing 4, slightly less current: I feel like I've been word-barfing all over the internet about how I finally got into Battlestar Galactica, but I'll just take the opportunity to do it here as well. If you have ever experienced even passing enjoyment of sci-fi, but definitely if you like great acting, great writing, and nuanced explorations of war, politics, and the Other, and the question of what exactly you are preserving when you try to save humanity, you should get up on it, immediately. I loved it and I love it. I want to watch it all again. Also, because I was dying to talk about the show, but was watching it solo, I simultaneously got way into the recaps at Television Without Pity, so I can recommend those to you too. I think it helps that the recapper is also way into Buffy and Friday Night Lights, so it was obvious to me that he could be trusted.

Thing 5 and enough already: I'm trying to walk at least 15 miles a week. Last week was a bust (shit weather), but the previous 3 were all good. I did over 4 today, so I think this week's a go too. I jumped off the bus by the bakery and took an extra long route home, along the lakes, which was awesome, and probably the best way to fit this stuff in if I don't want to walk in the dark after dinner. We lose the evening light starting next week, so this week's crisp, golden, early evening walks will be bittersweet. Alas, alas.

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    In memoriam.

    If you want real welfare reform, you focus on a good education, good health care, and a good job.

    If you want to reduce poverty, you focus on a good education, good health care, and a good job.

    If you want a stable middle class, you focus on a good education, good health care, and a good job.

    If you want to have citizens who can participate in democracy, you focus on a good education, good health care, and a good job.

    And if you want to end the violence...you could build a million new prisons and you could fill them all up, but you will never end this cycle of ­violence unless you invest in the health and the skill and the intellect and the character of our children — you focus on a good ­education, good health care, and a good job.

    And other than that, I don’t feel strongly about ­anything.

    Senator Paul Wellstone
    July 21, 1944 – October 25, 2002

    Friday, October 22, 2010

    From the archives.

    Fall classics:

    Fall 1978.

    Remember when jumping in leaves was the best fun ever?

    Fall 1978.

    Happy Friday, y'all!

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    Web shopping.

    Remember last year when I bought a Prairie Underground hoodie on ebay? No? You don't keep track of my public clothing purchases?

    Refresher:



    Given that I have worn it literally hundreds of times already, despite having had it for less than a year, I have successfully been able to rationalize buying a second one. I mostly need the second one so that I don't look quite so much like a person who wears the same thing to work every day (n.b.: I am wearing the hoodie pictured above today).

    So I just ordered this one, except in brown:



    After weeks of internet stalking and failed ebay sniping attempts, I ended up ordering from tobi.com, one of those aggressively designer-y websites, with a 30% off coupon from the always reliable retailmenot.com. (Side note: remember how ugly and like, shameful, internet coupon aggregators used to be? This one isn't. It's very cute. And it has saved me a bunch of money.) Considering these hoodies are expensive and they never, ever go on sale unless there's a single one left in XS in an unpopular color, 30% off is significant savings. And, they're U.S.-made out of organic cotton, so these hoodies massage my conscience in addition to being the key to my entire wardrobe at this point.

    Speaking of key: you see my feet in the photo up there (welcome google fetishists)? I'm wearing the Vibram FiveFingers Spring Multisport shoes that I got right before we went to England. I call them my "gorilla feet." The whole barefoot/minimalist shoe thing has been intriguing me for awhile now--at least 2.5 years or so, if my own blog is to be trusted--so again after MUCH hemming and hawing and internet shopping and price comparing, I bit the bullet (REI; I'm a member and had a teeeeeny dividend to spend and get free shipping). And I love them. They make me feel like a sprightly elf. They have thoroughly rocked my calf muscles (especially running, which I can only manage for like a block at a time so far). They are correcting the things that lesser shoes have done to my feet over the years. The problem is, they are ruining me for other shoes. My Danskos and Sanitas are not feeling so good anymore. My Keens are still all right, but why so much rubber under the heel, my feet now wonder. I put on a pair of close-fitting ballet flats the other day and couldn't hack it at all. TOO MUCH TOE SQUISH. I'm going to have to get rid of those.

    Also, winter is coming. Whatever their other virtues, the gorilla feet aren't waterproof.

    Anyway, that's what I've been buying, FYI. (Based on this post, apparently I aspire to look as though I could spring into your yoga class at a moment's notice.)

    Wednesday, October 06, 2010

    From the archives.

    I was just looking through some stuff and found one of my favorite pictures ever.

    With flash.

    Henry was 4 1/2 and had just woken up from a nap, and this is what he put on. The gold vest was a bribe/reward for not waking his parents up in the middle of the night for ten consecutive nights.

    The era when he dressed in a tuxedo every day seems like such a long time ago.

    Monday, October 04, 2010

    When your garden turns on you.

    So I planted this amaranth, and it appears to be giving me the finger.

    Tons of amaranth plants came up next to the sunflowers (I did, in fact, plant them, if random seed scattering + hoping for the best = planting), and they all seem to be giving me the finger.