Thursday, February 23, 2012

Full Tilt Boogie Sewn-On Tape Journal

I'm doin' the Full Tilt Boogie! I just love saying that. It's the same with juxtaposition. I say that all the time, and probably incorrectly, because it makes me happy.

Mary Ann Moss is teaching this bookbinding class. I've never met her in person but I already love her. In one of her videos she actually glued her book block into the covers upside down. In all her coolness she didn't edit that part out but showed what she did then fixed it. Ya gotta love that.

Plus I like her voice. It's not really anything special but there's something unique about the way the words come out of her mouth. There's something about her....I don't know what you call it....diction? Anyway, she's my new best friend even though she has no idea who I am.

She's teaching 3 journals in this class but 2 of them have the same binding it's just that one is exposed and the over is covered. I've finished the first journal and I'm happy with the way it turned out even though I didn't have the same kind of materials she used in hers.

Mary Ann seems to have an abundance of lovely vintage celluloid photo albums lying around that she obviously didn't pay too much for because she has no problem cutting them up. She often refers to things she "picked up in a Paris flea market" and she somehow manages to say that without any pretentiousness at all. Most of the celluloid albums I found on eBay start at around $50 and go up from there. That's just too pricey for this Goodwill Girl.

Speaking of Goodwill...check out this duvet I found at a thrift store down the street.

It's so shabby chicy vintagey delicious! It will go on the antique 4-poster bed in my art room as soon as I get all the art off the bed. It gets a little messy in there from time to time. The best part about this little jewel is that it cost a whole $3.00.

Back to vintage celluloid albums. I actually do have one lying around my house but it's a family heirloom that if I dared to cut up I'm relatively certain it would anger the Three Dead People on The Wall.
Would you want them mad at you? Me either

This one belonged to someone in my paternal grandmother's family. It's quite substantial. It's sitting on top of a full size suitcase which is only slightly larger than the album.

Both of the clasps are broken and missing pieces. The fabric on the spine and back is threadbare but was probably velvet at one time.

It's full of old cabinet cards of people I'm sure I'm related to but I have no idea who most of them are. My favorite is on the top left of the right hand page. It's a picture of a large puppy and underneath someone has written "Don Boyd 4 weeks old". Who names their dog Don?! If we ever get another dog I swear I will name him Don Boyd.

Obviously, cannibalizing this album was out of the question but luckily I have a stash of book covers from other previously cannibalized books. I picked out a set, cut off the spine then started collaging stuff all over them.

Another component we needed for this journal was some heavy fabric strips that would be sewn into the book block then used to attach it to the covers. I have a sewing machine but I don't really sew. But since I have a sewing machine I have some fabric and patterns and all the stuff that goes with it for those time when I try to sew then am reminded that I don't sew. I couldn't find any fabric that I thought was heavy enough (even though my covers are not nearly as substantial as a celluloid album) so I used a couple of fairly lightweight strips of upholstery fabric and sewed a layer of interfacing in between.

This did not go well. I wanted to do random free motion sewing all over the strips but I thought I had to have a special foot for that and I couldn't figure out how to lower the feed dogs anyway. So my plan was to sort of fudge the free motion as best I could.

In the end it worked out fine but we got off to a rough start as you can see by the wads of thread along the seam. 

My sewing machine has a couple of repairs that need to be made so I borrowed one from a friend. It's just a basic machine that only does a couple of stitches so you would think there wouldn't be anything difficult about it, right? Wrong. Loading the bobbin correctly must take some kind of engineering degree or a brain surgeon or something. It took me 3 times to get thing in there correctly and of course I didn't realize it was wrong until I had sewn 6" and the whole machine locked up because the thread was all wadded inside. By the time I get through with it, my friend's sewing machine will also be in need of a couple of repairs.

I do most of my projects on my dining room table because it's big and what else could I possibly use it for? I call my art room the "art room" but there's actually very little art that goes on in there. It's more of a guest room with art supply storage. I already have one project spread out all over the bed so this one leaked into the dining room which now looks much worse than this:

I know what you're thinking: I wonder if she's ever accidentally dipped her paint brush into her coffee instead of the glue? How dare you even consider such a thing. Of course I have.

Since I also didn't have any lovely pieces of ephemera that I picked up at a Paris flea market, I just scrounged around the house for any kind of filler paper I could find. I used scrapbook paper, maps, calendars, note pads, ledger sheets, magazine pages, envelopes, and there's even a potato chip bag in there. Don't worry, it's clean.

These are my signatures all carefully arranged just the way I wanted them then punched precisely with the holes needed for stitching, then punched precisely again with the correct holes needed for stitching. It's not that I did it wrong the first time, it's that I changed my mind about the overall size of the book right after I had punched the holes. Resizing the signatures made all the hole a little "off" therefore some repunching was required. This was perfectly fine since this book is sort of a junk journal and doesn't require precision. Thank God.

Shortly after I took this picture of my perfectly arranged signatures, I carried them into the kitchen so I could watch the demo video on my computer while I sewed. I sewed 2 stitches, turned into all thumbs then dropped the whole thing and watched my perfectly arranged and "precisely" punched pages fly all over the room. I failed to notice that part of the video where she told us to use paper clips to hold the pages inside the signatures while we sew.

Anyone who has ever done a stitched binding like this before is feeling my pain. The pages are all different sizes and positioned differently along the spine so it's not like I could just gather them up again and start sewing. I had to put them back into the signatures (and naturally I couldn't remember which papers which inside which one) then realign the holes. Remember I had punched 2 (okay 3) sets of holes in each sheet so I wasn't really sure which set was the right one. I figured I could just do what I always do and punch new ones while I sew if needed.

Here is the finished journal:

I will work on the inside off and on indefinitely. My journals rarely have a theme or a purpose, I just work on them when I feel like it. I haven't felt like it in a long time so I'm anxious to get back into journaling. I don't write a lot in my journals because my own handwriting irritates me. It looks like a serial killer's handwriting. A serial killer with multiple personalities who writes all fat and loopy one minute then skinny and pointy the next. That manages to look cool in other people's journals but in mine it just looks stupid. I'll stick to gluing in stuff that other people have written.

I'm ready to start the next journal and in fact I'm already building signatures for 2 more. Since this is a 3-journal class I will probably overdo it by at least 4 journals, maybe 5. Any job worth doing is worth overdoing. If you're undermedicated.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Snot Pots and Gross Girlie Issues

I feel the need to discuss deeply personal and really gross body functions such as snot and really chunky periods so if that bothers you avert your delicate eyes now.

I think I'll start at the top and work my way down. I've been have some sinus issues lately. Well, "lately" meaning ever since we moved back to Texas. I had sinus issues for the first 35 years that I lived here but they virtually disappeared during the 8 years we lived in South Louisiana, which makes no sense to me. I really thought my allergies and sinus problems would get worse with all the vegetation down there but they actually got better. Go figure.

Obviously there is some allergen native to my home state that I am sensitive to. I thought it might be dust since there was plenty of that in Wichita Falls where I grew up. But now I live in Houston which has a climate very similar to South Louisiana and I'm still having issues. I may have to find me an allergy doctor and get back on shots but I want to exhaust every other alternative before I do that.

I've pretty much run the gambit of over-the-counter sinus/allergy medicines. I've even tried the heavy duty decongestants that I'm not supposed to take because of my blood pressure. I will admit I haven't tried all the homeopathic remedies but I figure they're all pretty much like a placebo anyway. If you believe in them they'll work. If you don't they won't.

Yesterday I picked up one of these snot pots. I know everyone but me has probably already tried it but I've resisted because I don't like the thought of pouring water up my nose. I don't like it when it gets up my nose when I go swimming so why would I intentionally put it there??

There were several brands and styles to choose from but I chose this one because it came with a "Try Me Free" rebate. I just send in my receipt and the bar code and they send me back the full purchase price. Plus I like the pleasant little teapot shape as opposed to this one which reminds me of Sherlock Holmes's pipe:

Then there's this design which looks like one of those hospital pee bottles for men:

I have a friend who uses this one which might as well be a diner ketchup bottle:

So for me it's not about function so much as form. That's just how I roll.

Past experience has told me that whatever I put up my nose will definitely come out my mouth. That's just because of the way our bodies are designed but it's also because I'm missing the little mud flap thing in the back of my throat due to a surgical procedure called a uvulopalatopharyngoplasty which was performed in conjunction with a septoplasty and rhinoplasty. Yes, I had a nose job but like every other woman who has had a nose job we insist it was done on a whim while we had some other sinus/nasal procedure. In my case it was sort of a buy 2 get 1 free type situation.

I'll never forget my surgical consultation with my doctor. We talked at length about what all the problems were and he drew me little pictures on a note pad explaining everything what would be done. I was in agreement with everything he suggested and at the end he looked at me and said, "Sooooo, Mrs. Green, since we're going to be performing several procedures in there anyway, is there.....anything else you'd like to have done??" as he waved his pen in front of my nose in a circular motion as if it was a magic wand.

Okay fine, I had a little bit of excess nose. I'm Lebanese AND Jewish, how could I not?? I explained to the surgeon that I did not want a cute little perky supermodel nose. I wanted my own nose, just smaller. We agreed that he could achieve that by just gently shaving about 6" off the top.

So anyway, I don't have a uvula. Normally I don't even notice it but I do remember the first time I became aware of its absence. It was probably less than a year post-surgery and it must have been during Christmas because I was eating these and I only do that during the holidays:
I was my kitchen about to cook something and I had popped a cherry cordial into my mouth then bent over to dig a cookie sheet out of a cabinet. When I stood up I felt my nose run so I grabbed a paper towel and dabbed at what I thought would be snot but it wasn't. It was chocolate. I guess I swallowed while I was bent over and gravity forced some of my chocolate covered cherry up instead of down so I had a cordial coming out of my nose. It was hilarious and horrifying.

Back to the snot pot, I used it and did indeed get backwash in my mouth but I was just thankful that it didn't go anywhere else. It would not have surprised me to have it coming out of my tear ducts as well.

At the same time I bought the snot pot, I also had to pick up some girlie supplies for me and Taylor. I had some girlie issues about a year ago and had surgery which you can read about in excruciating detail here. Basically I was having a lot of random excessive bleeding and the surgery took care of that for almost a year. Now it's back.

I had a D & C so I know my uterus is practically clean enough to eat off of. But there is the issue of recurring ovarian cysts. I'm pretty sure this is what I'm having right now. They show up, they pop, they bleed then another one shows up, pops, bleeds, etc. There's no pain at all and I told my doctor since I've been down this road before I'm pretty sure that's all it is so I'm not inclined to go poking around looking for trouble. She agreed and said the good news is that it's not uncommon during perimenopause. The bad news is that could last another 10 years.

As if the random bleeding every 3 or 4 days throughout the month isn't bad enough, my regularly scheduled monthly hemorrhaging has gone nuclear. It's so bad for the first 3 days that I can't leave my house. They don't make a feminine product that can handle the kind of output I'm experiencing. I'm seriously considering adult diapers. Not only is the volume shocking but the content is as well. I swear it looks like a can of cherry pie filling only much darker. I know that's gross but imagine how I feel.

I have a couple of friends who use the Diva Cup and they absolutely love it. I've been tempted to try it but I've hesitated for a couple of reasons. It costs over $30 and that's a lot of money to waste if I don't like it. Plus, it's environmentally friendly since you just wash it and reuse it so that's great but...yuck. Remember O.B. tampons with no applicator? I guess they're still around but again...yuck.

Obviously the yuck factor weighs heavily in my feminine protection decisions. As I was staring at my available options in the girlie products aisle, I noticed one that I had not seen before. It's called the Softcup. It's basically a disposable Diva Cup. They make a reusable version which would be just like a Diva Cup but the disposable one you can wear for 12 hours then toss it. This intrigued me. And the picture on the front of the box made me laugh because it looks like a little pink rimmed condom for your cervix.

I haven't had the opportunity to try the Softcup yet but I will be sure to report back when I do. In case you're wondering, one box of 14 Softcups cost about the same as the giant box of super duper plus plus plus tampons. I also bought a tiny box of junior extra light day tampons for Taylor which will last her about 6 months. Yes, I'm jealous.  I don't know why she doesn't just use a Q-tip.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

This is the worst day of my life.

Taylor said that to me when she was about 6 years old. I don't even remember what caused her so much distress but being the loving, comforting mother that I am I assured her that she would have many MANY days much worse than that one.

I had a bad day yesterday. Most of the day was actually okay but toward the end of the day it got really, really bad. Jayson had one such day not too long ago. In fact he had several of them clustered around a single event.

In the past year we moved from Louisiana back to Texas. When you move from state to state you normally have 30 days to transfer your car registrations and your drivers license from your old state to your new one. There are no consequences for failing to do this within 30 days so we tend to drag our feet on it. Plus we are genetically flaky so remembering to take care of little details like these is sometimes more than we can handle.

This past October Jayson turned 48 years old. Shortly after his birthday he was horrified to discover that his drivers license had expired. He frantically began the process of getting it renewed because it's illegal to drive around with an expired license. Okay, that's not the real reason. He was frantic about it because he had a business trip scheduled for November and was pretty sure he would need a valid license to board the plane and rent a car.

Louisiana has what I would consider to be a more traditional DMV. It's one stop shopping for all your  drivers license, registration and title needs. If you live in the Lafayette area I would highly recommend you make the short trip to the Abbeville DMV for these services since the office is small and I never had to wait more than 10 minutes. Just make sure you slow down for the Maurice speed trap and since you're already going so slow you might as well stop at the Villager's Cafe for a shrimp poboy and chili cheese fries then pick up a stuffed chicken at Hebert's for supper.

Now that we're back in Texas we are required to handle our drivers license business at the drivers license office or DPS, and the car registrations are done at the car registration office or at the tax office. You can handle basic registration renewals at offices in some grocery stores (no joke), but more complex registration business is done at a county tax office which you can find in a courthouse annex or sometimes in the basement of the county jail. That's no joke either. 

Jayson found a drivers license office not too far from our house, so a couple of days after his birthday he headed over there to get his license renewed and also transferred from Louisiana to Texas. After waiting in line for over an hour he was plummeted into a month-long hell.

They asked to see Jayson's car registration. All he had was the Louisiana registration which he explained to the always lovely DMV employee. That employee told Jayson that their records show a car with a Texas title in his name, therefore he would have to provide a valid registration for that car before they can issue his new license.

This made no sense to me at all since whether or not you own a car has no bearing on getting a license but that's what the gal told him so he didn't argue. See, the problem is that we bought our cars in Texas then moved to Louisiana shortly after that. We registered the cars in Louisiana but never transferred the title. I suppose we should have done that but we really just didn't think about it and it doesn't make a difference unless you sell the car.

So there he was with a Texas title, a Louisiana registration, and an expired Louisiana drivers license. Jayson found the nearest tax office which shares space with the sheriff's department for precinct 4, or something like that. All I know is there were a lot of uniformed officers wandering around so he had to make sure he parked legally.

After another hour in line the tax office gal asked to see all of the documents that are required in order to transfer your car's registration. Jayson handed them over and was pretty confident that he had all his ducks in a row. Almost. As it turned out, there was one stray duck. His car had a valid Louisiana inspection sticker on it but tax lady said he would need to get a Texas inspection then come back once he had proof of that.

Up until this point Jayson had done everything himself but now he brought me in on the fun. It made sense to just go ahead to take care of both our cars at the same time. Both cars passed inspection with only one minor repair so we felt like things might actually go smoother now.

We went back to the tax office, waited in line then once again presented all of the documents for both vehicles: Louisiana registrations, Texas titles, Texas proof of inspection, Louisiana insurance cards (yeah, it was on the to-do list), passports (Jayson's only valid identification at the time) and a partridge in a pear tree.

Tax Gal was tapping away at her computer when she stopped and turned our insurance cards over to the back, then the front again, then the back. Before she even said anything I just burted out how I knew we needed to get Texas car insurance but we just hadn't gotten around to it but the Louisiana insurance is good, right? Tax Gal asked what the liability limits were on our policy. She may as well have asked the meaning of life. I don't know the answer for either one. She very kindly asked if there was a way we could call our insurance agent and have them fax over our policy's liability info.

Of course my first question was if we'd have to leave then get back in line again. She said we could stand off to the side and as soon as the fax came in she would call us over. I called our Louisiana insurance agent who faxed over our info sheet shortly after that. Tax Gal called us over and informed us that the liability limits on our Louisiana policy were too low. Jayson and I both reacted as if she'd just said we have the worst cancer on the face of the earth and we would both be dead within the next 5 minutes.

Tax Gal was actually very helpful and said that we had a choice. We could either raise the liability limits on our Louisiana policy and just have the agent fax over the binder, or we could get a Texas policy with the correct limits. I started to ask her the "will we need to come back and stand in line" question again but I guess she saw it on my face and said we could stand off to the side to make our calls.

Our Louisiana insurance agent said that raising our liability to the Texas minimum would increase our premiums by like a million dollars. Okay not really but it was surprisingly expensive...prohibitively so. We told Tax Gal we would have to get new insurance and would come back when that was done. Jayson and I went out to lunch then back home to stick our heads in the oven.

Red tape is always a little frustrating but I was starting to feel like we'd never find our way out. The only bright spot in this huge ordeal that should have been nothing more than an errand, was that by switching our car insurance to Texas and even raising the liability limits, we cut our premiums in half. In HALF! I did the whole thing online with Progressive and it took less than an hour to research it, fill out all the required information then print out our temporary insurance cards.

I was so overjoyed at the savings that I emailed Progressive and told them how much we saved. I also told them that I was sure that Flo would want me to have a tricked out name tag because of my huge savings. A few weeks later look what I got in the mail:
Progressive is just dripping with awesome sauce.
With new Texas insurance in hand, along with our other documents that we started referring to as our "papers" with a Russian accent, we went back to the tax office and spent another long hour in line. When we were summoned to Tax Gal's window I noticed that the woman standing at the window next to us was crying. Not just talking with tears, but actually sobbing. I didn't even have to ask her what was wrong. I so felt her pain.

We handed Tax Gal our paperwork and she said the insurance information was just fine. But there was another problem. She needed the proof of inspection for Jayson's car. When she said that, Jayson and I looked at each other and mutually yet silently gouged each others eyes out in our minds.

You see, we both drive Dodge Durangos which we bought at the same time. The cars are identical except for the color. It's easy to get their paperwork confused because it all looks the same except for the VIN. We were both certain the inspection proof was there before but then again maybe we just saw the one and thought we saw both.

We were doing the panicked scrambling search of our persons just in case that sheet of paper had somehow managed to end up in our shoes. You just never know. Jayson asked the gal if he could go look in the car since we were both sure we had the paper earlier that day. Tax Gal said that would be fine and I didn't even ask her about waiting in line again. I just moved to our designated spot "off to the side".

While Jayson was searching the car I was praying with everything I had that he would find the paper. It was nearing 4:00 which meant that if we had to go back home we couldn't get back to the tax office before it closed so the torture would have to be continued another day. If I accidentally left that paper at home when I was shuffling through everything to fill out the car insurance application, I was pretty sure I would either be divorced or would end up on Unsolved Mysteries.

Jayson walked back in, paper in hand and within minutes we walked out with registration documentation and new Texas license plates.

What an unnecessarily hairy ordeal. Unfortunately it wasn't over for Jayson. The next day he went back to the drivers license office where he waited in line for an eternity and a half. He handed over his brand new proof of Texas registration, Texas insurance, Texas inspection, and his Louisiana drivers license.

The DPS or DOT or whatever they call that office person told Jayson that normally all he would have to do is present his valid out of state license in order to get a new one. Since his Louisiana license had expired it was not valid. He was given 2 choices: drive back to Louisiana to get his license renewed there then come back to Texas to have it transferred, OR he would have to take his driving test all over again.

Poor Jayson. I really felt sorry for him and was SO glad that I had another year before my license expired. I wouldn't wish all that frustration on my worst enemy. Jayson didn't have time to drive back to the bayou to renew his license so he scheduled his driving test.

He was able to take the written test fairly quickly and he passed with flying colors. Well, if he'd missed just one more question he would have failed but we're calling that flying colors. He said there were very few actual driving questions on the test and it was mainly about some weird policies and laws and junk he'd never heard of.

The earliest they could get him in for his road test was a couple of weeks after his scheduled business trip to Pennsylvania. A week before he was due to leave he asked me to call the drivers license place to see if they could get him in sooner for his test. Okay, that was no easy task. Just finding their phone number was a pain and of course it didn't help that I didn't know what the office is actually called. I still don't know. Then when I called I got to listen to a recording but there was no option to speak to a live person. The recording said that all business relating to your drivers license and/or driving tests must be handled in person at the office. You can't call and schedule a driving test. You have to go down there and wait in line to just to schedule another 2 week wait.

I gave Jayson the bad news so he took an afternoon off work to go to the drivers license office and wait in line only to be told that there were no other openings available. He was able to board the plane to Pennsylvania with just his passport but he couldn't sweet talk the rental car lady into giving him a vehicle, even after explaining why his license was expired and what he was going through to fix that.

To make a long story even longer, Jayson did finally get to take his driving test and he passed it. He said he felt a little awkward in the waiting area full of parents and their excited teenagers waiting to take their driving test. He pretended to be anxiously waiting for little Susie to finish her test.

Jayson's driver's license ordeal began in October and ended with the arrival of his license in early December. When he got it we celebrated the joy as a family and tried to forget all the pain and frustration it took to get there. Like childbirth.

I hadn't thought about the drivers license ordeal since then but it popped back into my head yesterday. Since we've moved back to Texas I've been feeling like I'm drowning in my own post nasal drip so I went to CVS to buy the biggest box of the highest dosage of pseudoephedrine I could find. I pulled the card off the shelf then took it to the pharmacy counter. Pharmacy Guy asked to see my drivers license then scanned it into their computer to make sure I'm not cooking meth in my underwear in an RV out in the desert. Or whatever.  

Pharmacy Guy said, "I'm sorry but I can't sell this to you. Your license has expired." That didn't phase me because it's happened before. I still have my Louisiana license and the last time I renewed it they gave me a sticker to put on the back that has the new expiration date so if you just look at the front it looks like my license has been expired for years.

I told him the correct expiration date was on the back. He turned over my license and said, "It expired on February 2, 2012."

To which I replied, "2013."

And then he retorted, "2012."

I snatched the license from his hand and examined the sticker. Sure enough it said 2012. My Louisiana drivers license had expired. My vision blurred, the room started spinning and everything faded to black.

Pharmacy Guy said, "Ma'am? Did you want to try a different product?"

But what I heard was, "Ma'am? Are you just eat up with stupid? Do you not learn anything from what your husband went through? Could you not have taken 3 seconds to double check your license BEFORE your birthday 2 weeks ago? Do you seriously think you have any chance of passing a driving test at this point in your life especially since you barely passed the first one?"

So today I am weighing my options. Drive back to Louisiana to get my old license renewed and just hope they don't ask me if the address on my license is still current. Or I can face the music here, stand in line for days and days, fail a written test, retake it, fail it again, retake it, pass it, take the driving test, fail it, take it again, then be given a pity pass from a nice officer who felt like he was being kind to the elderly.

This is the worst day of my life.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Hard Water On Steroids and Satanic Clowns

Today I spent 3 hours scrubbing the hard water deposits off the glass in my shower. That's 3 real hours, not 3 exaggerated for effect hours. We have extremely hard water here but so far I haven't been able to convince my landlord that it would be in their best interest to install a water softening system. I guess they want to wait until the pipes gunk up so badly that all the plumbing has to be replaced.

In the mean time, I battle mineral deposits on a daily basis. I have tried every product, store-bought and homemade, available to me and nothing works. Well, everything works a little bit but nothing I've tried has removed all of the deposits. Even good old fashioned elbow grease doesn't work.

My hard water laughs at Lime Away and CLR. It punches citric acid in the face. It sticks its tongue out at the paste I made from baking soda and peroxide. I even brought out the big guns and started scrubbing for all I was worth with steel wool. And I'm talking about #3 steel wool, not that wimpy #000. I was practically scrubbing with shrapnel. My mineral deposits crumbled the steel wool as if it was a shredded wheat biscuit.

I have the grandmother of all hard water. I have hard water on steroids. Nuclear hard water. Your hard water wishes it was my hard water. I have hard water times 10. Hard water with sprinkles on top. My hard water could beat up your hard water with its eyes closed. 

When it was all said and done I had slightly fewer mineral deposits than I did this morning and a back ache to go with them. I also had a slight headache probably from mixing household chemicals in an attempt to make my hard water choke and die. I did make sure to get plenty of fresh air for myself so that I wouldn't get that disease that you can get from mixing cleaners. What's it called?? Oh yeah. Death. Not to worry, I didn't mix ammonia and bleach. I do know that's bad and besides, I'm pretty sure my hard water would be immune.

My hard work also rewarded me with a flare up of my rosacea which gives me big red splotches on my cheeks and nose. It makes me look somewhat like a clown which I might find amusing if I wasn't convinced that clowns are the evil minions of Satan who hide under my bed so they can grab my ankles when I'm turning in for the night. Then they drag me under the bed which, as we all know, is where the portal to the netherworld is located. And, as we also know, the netherworld is populated by evil clowns and antique dolls with teeth who chase you so they can bite you while they laugh at you.

And that is why I love Jesus.

It's not so much about my sin or being a better person or caring for others. I just don't want to go to the hell that my imagination has vividly created for me.

Since I was in the cleaning mode I also cleaned the big whirlpool tub that we have and never use. This is the second house we've lived in that has one of these lovely yet useless (for us) features. I usually just dust it out but once a month I fill it with bleach water and run it to....well I don't really know why I do that. I just know that the plumber told me I should so I do it.

Then I finished off the bathroom cleaning the same way I do a couple of times a year: with furniture oil. I use that or car wax, whichever I happen to have on hand. That's a trick I learned from a friend who used to clean houses for realtors and home builders. Once you get your shower doors sparkling clean (or as clean as they can get), rub them down with that lemon oil furniture polish stuff. I use Old English. It keeps hard water and soap scum from sticking as badly. The stuff's gonna stick cuz that's what it does, but the lemon oil will slow it down considerably and it makes everything look nice and shiny.

I use it on the shower doors and the tile on the walls but not the tile on the floor because the oil is slippery and that would be dangerous. Who would be stupid enough to do that without thinking? Not me, that's for sure. No siree, I'd never oil my shower floors. Just like I'd never oil my wood floors thinking that the oil would be good for the wood but not thinking that oiled wood + socks = busted tail bones. Nope, I'm not that gal either.

I really should hire a housekeeper for my own safety.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Crochet Is Cool. Anthropologie Says So.

If you haven't yet hopped on the crochet/knitting bandwagon you'd better hurry before you miss out on all the coolness. If you still think it's something that grandmas do while sitting in their rocking chairs waiting for their numbers to be called, then you need to get out more. It's everywhere, it's trendy, it's young, it's hip, it's fun, and like most trendy things its coolness is probably temporary so your time is limited.

I browsed around in Anthropologie yesterday since I was in the area and had some time to kill. This is the one located in CITYCENTRE and is the larger of our 2 stores. There's one in The Woodlands that's not too far from me but I haven't visited that one yet.

I marvel at the artistry and ingenuity of Anthropologie's displays and I'm still waiting for them to realize how much they need me to help them with those. I feel sure that I am the peanut butter to their jelly.
Anthropologie measuring spoons
Not only are their displays fabulous but their products are too. They carry clothing, accessories, furniture, and home decor items. Most are from their own private label but they do carry other brands that you've probably never heard of. Everything they have is exclusive, artistic, high quality, and expensive. I admire the creativity they put into their stores and their products but I can't afford to buy them.

Well, I did pick up a small giftie for myself this time and I did splurge since it was overpriced for what it was. But look at them! Are they not the cutest measuring spoons ever?! And I'll tell you this: I made Belgian waffles for breakfast this morning with my new measuring spoons and they were best waffles I've ever made. I think it was the spoons.

That was the only thing I bought but it wasn't the only thing I wanted. It was just the only thing I wanted and could afford. As I was browsing around the store I couldn't help but notice how many crocheted and knitted items they had available. There were not only sweaters but dresses and bedding as well. I'm telling you, crochet and knitting is hot right now.

Here are a few pictures of some of the things that caught my eye:

Quirky Heirloom Throw
Crocheted Throw
Bottle Tree
Antique Jar Candles
Celluloid Dream Lamp
Vintage Inspired Dentist Lamp
Rhododendron Chandelier
Seed Pod Lamp
Crochet Dress or Shirt
Field Biology Maxi Dress
Hidden Glow Pullover
Chained Lace Bib
Ladder Display
Tshirt Fringe Display
Big Wire Horse
Window Display
Abstract Window Display

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Promises, Promises

We have a house guest coming today so yesterday all I had to do was pick up around the house cuz it's a mess and I don't even have any kids to blame it on. It's all me.

First thing yesterday morning (aka 10:30ish) I thought I'd start by picking up the yarn that's strung out all over the family room. I realized I needed a bigger container for it and I knew the basket in my art room closet would be perfect if I could find something else to put in its place. I scrounged around in the garage for a while and found an old milk crate that would work so I cleaned it up, emptied the basket, refilled the crate and thought I was done.

Then I noticed the basket was a little rough on the inside so I couldn't just toss my yarn balls in there. They would snag. All I needed was some fabric to stick in there as a liner. That was no problem since I have a laundry basket full of cotton scrap fabric and old bed sheets. I found a pink sheet that I liked then I thought it shouldn't be too hard to sew a few seams in it so that it looked more like a liner instead of a sheet shoved into a basket.

Once again, I forgot that I don't know how to sew. Not knowing how to do something is a sorry excuse for not doing it so I spent the next several hours measuring, cutting, pinning, taping, untaping, repinning, Googling, then finally sewing...on the wrong side. Okay, it's a basket liner not a prom dress so who cares if my seams are showing, right? I'm going to pretend that I don't care.

I knew that trying to finish off the liner would take some effort and that didn't feel like a good use of my limited time so I left it half finished and promised myself that I would finish it after the house guest left. Occasionally I do make wise time management decisions.
I started to load my half-finished basket with all my stray yarn balls when I realized that I hadn't yet finished winding them all with my new electric yarn baller that my mother bought me for my birthday. I thought it would be smart to go ahead and take the time to make them into proper balls since the balls stack which means my basket would not only be neater but would hold more yarn if it was all neatly organized.

I ran the rest of my yarn through the machine so that my balls would stack neatly in their new basket. Between winding sessions I managed to get a few loads of laundry done which made me feel like a multi-tasking dynamo. Now that I'm retired, getting out of bed is my big activity for the day so anything above and beyond that makes me feel like I've worked 8 hours, cooked a gourmet meal, raised 5 children, remodeled my bathroom, and made my husband blush...all in a single day.

One of the few advantages to aging is that I can now call my self "retired" with some credibility. I've been trying it for the past 20 years but if you say that when you're young you just look lazy. I AM lazy but I don't want to LOOK lazy.

I did manage to stop myself when I finished winding the last skein of yarn that I'm currently using. There are still 50 or more skeins in my art room that haven't been wound yet but I congratulated myself for knowing that it would be a time management mistake to wind those even though it felt like I was leaving a job half done. I promised myself I would finished them after the house guest left.

Did you notice how I did all that talking about my yarn baller without making a single innuendo? I'm pretty proud of myself since it doesn't take much for me to be lured into inappropriateness

Once I had all of my yarn neatly wound into stackable cylinders, I carefully placed them in my basket and admired how nice the family room looked with all of my junk put away. Mentally exhausted from a hard day of cleaning and sewing, I took a much deserved break and promised myself I would finish my tasks after I rested for a while.

I sat down to crochet a few more rows on the pillow cover I'm making for Jayson's woobie pillow. I'm not saying that my husband has to sleep with a woobie like a toddler would, but he has this little throw pillow that he can't sleep without. He says he uses it to prop up his shoulder because it takes the pressure off the bulging discs in his neck, but I've never really seen much propping action going on. Hugging...yes. Propping...not so much.
I sort of lost track of time while I was crocheting because the next thing I knew it was bedtime. As I was turning lights off throughout the house, I realized that I had only cleaned up one room and the rest of the house still looked like someone shoved a stick blender in through the roof and hit puree.

There's only so much I can do in one day so I promised myself I would hit the ground running this morning to finish up everything I didn't do yesterday. And I will do that as soon as I finish writing about it. Because I'm a writer, it's what I do. Okay, a retired writer. Who never really wrote anything. I just like the clicking sound my keyboard makes. I always promised myself that when I retired I would concentrate on writing something publishable. Now I know there are different levels of retirement and I don't think I'm at that level yet. I'm at that first level that likes to talk about all the things I can do now that I'm retired, but I never actually do them. Of course I'm not actually retired either. I guess the technical term would be "unemployed" but I've never really liked labels.

So now that I have my daily writing out of my system I can concentrate on cleaning up the rest of the house before our house guest arrives. Fortunately the guest room and bathroom are immaculate so maybe I can convince her to just stay in her room and read...something that I wrote...or thought about writing.

I promised myself to stop procrastinating just as soon as the house guest leaves.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Ghetto Galleria

I went thrifting yesterday afternoon and didn't buy a whole lot but I saw some cool stuff.

All I bought was a tulle skirt from the River Oaks Goodwill that I added to my growing collection of second hand clothes that I intend to disassemble then reassemble into something fabulous just like that New Dress A Day gal who spent $365 and made 365 new outfits in 365 days. Impressive, right? My goals are not quite that lofty but I'm convinced that I can take a couple of tacky circa 1978 polyester Goodwill garments and remake them into something similar to this:
from Magnolia Pearl
Okay maybe not exactly like that but you get the idea. The only problem is that I keep forgetting that I don't know how to sew. Sort of. I have a sewing machine and when Taylor was little I made a couple of costumes for her using a pattern and everything. But I still wouldn't say that I know how to sew. I just fumble my way through it and hope nothing falls apart.

I would really like to make a dress like one of these only a little more conservative since I am a "mature woman" and I have to consider things such as saddle bags and arm wings when I'm designing. I would also love to have a pair of fabulous cowboy boots to go with my new dress, so I could wear it to the rodeo. Either of these boots will do:
Lucchese rattlesnake
Corral distressed leather

So here I am with no clue about basic garment construction and I'm wanting to construct one from scratch without a pattern. Good luck to me.

Even though I didn't buy much yesterday I did see some pretties. Here are a few things I spotted at the Westheimer Antiques Flea Market:

Romanian seltzer bottles
Wooden chest

Silk lampshade
Metal drawers

Doors out the wazoo

Bust & pink Italian espresso machine

They had some cool stuff, lots of mid-century modern furniture, but it was all overpriced. Maybe it has to be so they can afford their Westheimer address.

I will probably go back and get one of those Romanian seltzer bottles. They really are quite fabulous. They're extremely thick, heavy glass circa early 1900s. They're asking $35 each for them which really isn't bad.

I love the details on that old wooden trunk and could think of a million things to store in the drawers of one of those metal chests if they weren't $300 each. Is that lampshade not to die for?! It didn't have a price on it and I didn't even ask because I knew it would be out of my range.

The dress form (half a dress form? shirt form? bust?) was tempting as was the pink espresso machine but they seemed sort of frivolous so I passed.

They had some really great antique doors with leaded glass panes but the really good ones were several hundred dollars each. They can keep their doors.

On my way home I stopped at the Antique Pavillion on Westheimer just to look around. They are WAY out of my price range but there's always good eye candy in there. The place is huge and one of the employees followed me around the whole store at a discreet distance. I felt like she was expecting me to shoplift an armoire or something. I asked her for permission before I took pictures then she warmed up a little.

I loved Robert Alker's glossy art deco furniture. The comic book desk and side tables were my favorites.

They had lots of amazing chandeliers which are difficult to photograph from the ground in bad lighting with a phone.

I've seen lots of cool chandeliers. I'm on Pinterest. But I've never seen anything quite like this first one. The crystals had no facets at all, they were completely smooth and about the size of my hand.

I love all the little shades on this next one. It had strands of smooth crystal beads wired to its "branches".

This one was my favorite. It's simple yet unusual and the thing is enormous. I would love to have one just like it only scaled down a bit.

I love driving through Highland Village at night. It's like Christmas all year long. It's not some place I would normally shop except to check out the displays in Anthropologie now and then.

You see I am a very discriminating shopper and Highland Village just doesn't meet my high standards. I like my stores unorganized so that I have to dig for half an hour to find what I want, I like them to be located in undesirable parts of town so that I can feel like I superhero if I manage to come out alive, and I really prefer for the store employees to curse at me in Spanish because I don't speak their language. That's my Galleria.