Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Zinged - Zung?

I am a master at the 2am zinger. You know the kind? The perfect comeback, the world-quaking verbal drubbing, the ZING... That only occurs to me 12 or so hours after the situation I would have used it in.
It's brutal. 

But I've been thinking, perhaps that's not SUCH a terrible thing?

I stumbled onto this post (via Angry Chicken, man I love her) and you know who can deliver some brutal, brutal smack talk? Authors. That's who.
Apparently canny wordsmiths are MEAN when you get 'em riled.
This list of the notable authors verbally decimating each other is entertaining reading... at first...
But then, well then it's sort of... icky.
Elizabeth Bishop slamming J.D. Salinger (#8) makes me wince,
 8. Elizabeth Bishop on J.D. Salinger  “I HATED [Catcher in the Rye]. It took me days to go through it, gingerly, a page at a time, and blushing with embarrassment for him every ridiculous sentence of the way. How can they let him do it?” 
Elizabeth! That's the kind of thing that could cause a person to retreat into crazypants seclusion (sorry J.D., but yuh-huh).
I think what bothers me is that it seems cheap somehow to have the ability to write extraordinarily but to use  your skill to hurt people's feelings. Like having the ability to fly but using it exclusively to fly around doing retaliatory poops on pigeons. (No wait, that actually sounds kind of righteous).

The rare occasion that I manage to spit out just the right mean at just the right time; I feel TERRIBLE about it afterwards. Even if it was deserved.
Because that's not who I want to be.
I'm not saying I want to hold hands with the world and sing Kumbaya and roast marshmallows but -  wait, actually, WHY AREN'T I saying that? That sounds like funtimes. And I love roasted marshmallows.
 I guess I don't really have a point here, this is just a long-winded way of saying that I think maybe my mum was right (she usually is) when she told us as kids,
"If you don't have anything nice to say then you should shut the f*ck up" 
(For reals, she has a mouth on her to make a sailor blush, and it's incongruous 'cause she looks like such a lady).
BUT I think I would still like the ability to think up the instant-zing, because then I could feel all smug that I wasn't using it. Instead of just all hurt-feelingy.
How do you guys feel about this? Do you zap and regret? Or ZING and high-five? Or  keep quiet then lay awake for hours staring at the shadow on your ceiling that looks like chubby-Elvis face until you come up with the perfect comeback?
And do you think it's different on the internetses? Where anonymity and time to plan a response seems to give people the idea that "DUDE. YOUR COUCH SO UGLY" is appropriate (hello Apartment Therapy commentors!).
I'm genuinely curious here. Thoughts? Feelings? Cuppa tea and a scone?

Oh hey! I just thought of something I wanted to add (I guess this whole thing is really jammed into my head but good)...
I read and follow quite a few blogs, some by folks who's politics, religious beliefs and lifestyles are different from mine. I can read a glowing "why I love Mitt Romney" post and completely disagree with it but still wish goodthings and funtimes for it's writer. BUT when one of the bloggers I used to read (I'm not naming names here), decided to write a scathing report, apropos of nothing about  just why and how another blogger's project was lousy. Well, click. Unfollowed.
Ok, rant over. I think I'm done here.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

...Because they ARRH! A Mini Boden Knock-Off.

Stripy Applique T-shirt

I do love a bit of Boden. Sure it's the uniform of the floppy-haired, home-counties male, but I have a soft spot for that. (I went to a British private school, those boys were my first crushes).
And I LOVE LOVE LOVE their kid's clothes. They're just plain awesome, fun and actually kid-appealing.
The downside is that they're bloomin' spensive. Maybe not so muchly if you can order them from the Boden USA site (and get free shipping, which they have RIGHT NOW(!) I'll wait here if you want to go look).
But getting stuff delivered to Canada means ordering from the UK site. And between exchange rates and shipping it just gets crazy. The above shirt would be roughly $50 CDN which, hah. No.

So I totally made a knock off.
Want to see it?

My sweetie is not a big fan of skulls and crossbones (he's more ninja than pirate). So I went with a trail o'bones that goes around the back too.
I used
A shirt from H&M, - a two pack, with a solid navy one for $12.99... I think SO!
A pack of Wilton Easy Image T-shirt Transfers for dark fabrics (from Michael's).
And some Photoshop meddling.
And I like it a LOT. I'm super happy with the Pirate Captain Dog's face; I went for a hand-drawn-in-Sharpie kind of look and think it was pretty successful. I also think he looks more friendly than the real version. Though I wish I had made him a bit bigger.
The transfers were a bit erratic, I'm not sure if that was a me thing or a them thing. I used them to fancy up a white tee earlier this week, and they worked brilliantly.
This time I had a bit of scorching. It's not noticeable to anybody but me, but it's there. I don't know if it's because of the dark shirt. Or because I had the iron set too high or because I didn't wash the shirt beforehand (it totally says you should but I am RIDICULOUSLY impatient).
I still have 3 sheets of transfer paper left, and plans for more shirts, (next time I'll pre-wash and report back!).

ANYWAY. The transfers were roughly $15 for 5. The tee worked out at $6.
$9 V's $50. I'm calling it a win.

I should add that I DO I have some guilt about copyright infringement. But I think the 30% difference rule works here. You know, if your design is different by about 30%, then you can think of it as "Inspired by" rather than plagiarized. And I didn't just copy and paste. But yah. Guilt.
It's funny though, this knock-off /"inspired by" thing. I feel OK about this design and OK about posting it to the intenetses because Boden is a larger, successful company. I wouldn't even think about ripping off an Etsy Seller or an independent designer in the same way. Because you know, ICKY. Weird huh?
How do you guys feel about these issues?

This is also over here -

and here -  Keeping It Simple

Friday, August 26, 2011

Wild and Precious

Hey! You know when sometimes the world (and more specifically these here internets) gives you just the thing you need at just the time when you need it?
I love when that happens.
Like this see:

It's a Mary Oliver quote, and I got to it via these kids here. I was struck by it hard enough to go out and procure me some poetry (which actually is one of my favourite things ever, so it wasn't exactly a hardship). 

I had been thinking about making some wall art EXACTLY like Tobi's since I saw it. But I have stencil fear. Or at least, very little stencil kung-fu. 
I whipped up this printable, I used a stencil font and meddled with it in photoshop to give it a "canvas" background. And  t'morra morning I'm going to trot to the printer down the road and have it printed up HUGE - well 16"x20" - on paper and stick it in a frame and put it over my desk and feel pretty awesomely happy about it.
If you want your very own to print out then you can totally do that! I've saved it as a TIFF file (don't fear the Tiff! He's just big, he won't hurt you, he needs love too) over here on Scribd. It might take a bit of time to download but it will print in WAY better quality than just clicking on this image above and doing a "save as". Oh, and it's 8.5"x11" so you can use your own printer (hit me up if you want the bigger size posted too).

There's something about this time of year that just makes this line ring through my head like a bell, and it might make an ok giftie for someone about to go away to big kid school (um, that's college/university for anybody who isn't used to speaking 3 year old).
And actually, if you DO want to tell me what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life, well I would love to hear.
And hey, here's a high five so high and five-y it makes your palm tingle. I think you're pretty awesome.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

faux rizzle - a fake flower upgrade

Firstly of all I think I better do a little pre-emptive defense here, I know fake flowers are kind of a contentious issue. And you're either a do or don't. My mum is a decided don't (I put it down to living in France, where everybody always seems to have real flowers everywhere).
I am a do. And here's why.
1. Fresh cut flowers are expensive. Even grocery store bouquets. And they're dead-dead really quickly. So you'd think house plants would be the answer, But...
2. I kill plants. I don't intend to exactly. It's not like I keep them in the dark and whisper terrible things to them (ok so, yah I do, but still). But they die and then I have guilt. It's a whole big thing.

So that's my defense of fake flowers. Now on to how to make dirt cheap fake flowers look more fancified. First things first; rebranding! They're not "fake" flowers they're "imitation" or "silk"or oou! even better, they're "Faux". French = more classierer see!?
Now, the upgrade I'm doing here is on a couple of stems of Dollarstore phalaenopsis orchids. And here's the before and after:

The before looks like a stem of dollar store fake flowers, and not just because it has a taggie on it that says dollarama. The after is way more swankypants Restoration-Pottery-Hard-Barn-Ware like. (At least I think).

Want to try it?
You'll need:
A couple of stems of phalaenopsis orchids (but the fancifying techniques actually work for lots of other fake flowers too)
Some paint and a paint brush
A sharp thing and a flamey thing (scissors and a lighter are good)
Some plasticine/modelling clay
A receptacle.
Some rocks (or bark chips for authenticity)
(I happened to have everything but the flowers to hand, so my total cost was one stinkin' dolla. Which = yay!)

So the first step is to cut some bits off your stem. Some length from the bottom and a few of the bottom flowers too. My leaves just slid right off, but you can snip them off if you need to; save them for later.


Then take your lighter and hold the flame close (but not ON) any weird plastic taggy bits that are sticky out. I reckon it's prolly best to do this OUTSIDE and don't breath in any fumes. If things look a little bumpy that's OK, organic looking bumps are a plus here.

Next step is to bend the stem into the right sort of shape, I had a look at some phalaenopsis online and bent carefully, a bit at a time, til it looked about right-ish. 
Next it's time to paint, I just used dollar store acrylic, I slopped it on, then blotted it off a bit for a mottled effect. Then I used an almost-dry brush to fade the brown into the brighter green of the plastic near the flower heads.

Careful not to get paint on the flowers and give them a bit of time to dry, in fact while they're drying you can do the leaves. Flatten them out, snip any loose threads away and melt up the edges some to stop fraying.

Almost done! Grab a hefty lump o' Plasticine/modeling clay jam it into your receptacle then poke your flower stem into it (you can add more than one stem if you like, maybe at different heights?). Add the leaves and poke them down firmly too. Like this:

Then toss some rocks or bark chips over the plasticine and behold your unkillable, swankypants new houseplant.

Oh and if you were going for extra authenticity you could pop one of those support sticks into the Plasticine too and clip the stem to it.

Oh, and I shared over a naptime crafers.

Monday, August 22, 2011


You know how some days you feel like it's barely worth chewing through the leather straps? And everything you touch turns to wet kitty poops?
And your internets won't work all day?
and then you're making miso soup and the boiling water breaks your mug with a crazy bang and slops water on your toes?
And you don't do up the the cap of your Diet Dr Pepper properly and it leaks all over your bed, through the duvet and onto the mattress?
And then you're in the bank and it turns out that Jack Layton died, and all that other stuff seems stupid and your heart is a little broken?
Today was like that.
I'll be back tomorrow, to show you my new shoes and this:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pillowcases to Women's Shortie Pajamas Tutorial - OR MC Hammer Loves My Jam(mie)s

Not Hammer Pants

So. You know how sometimes you're getting your kid ready for bed - teeth are brushed, residual funk has been hosed off, softie chums extracted from who-knows-where - and it's time to wrangle an unwilling human into footie jammies? Yes?
And sometimes you're all,
"Break it down, OH-OH OH OH OH-OH OH OH OH. PAJAMA time. Can't touch this. WOAH WOAH WOAH OH OH OH OH. Can't touch this"
Because MC Hammer is hilarious and awesome, specially when you sing the lyrics to U Can't Touch This in a Jeeves and Wooster accent?
No? Just me?
Well anyway, this has nothing to do with that. This is a half-assed sort of tutorial on how to make a pair of womens shortie jammies from a pair of pillowcases.

So. Onward!
First you need to procure a pair of pillowcases. Mine came from the Dollarama, so yay for the cheapest ever. But it seems like random, last-pair-in-this-design-no-matching-sheets pillowcases are always around and on crazy sale.
Got yer pillowcases? Here're mine:

The first step is to unpick the stitching on your piller'cases. Have at them with the seam ripper; go on, you can give it some women's-tennis-grunting if you like, I don't mind.
Now you should have EITHER two great big rectangles or 4 smaller rectangles. We're making the top first, so put that other pillowcase someplace safe. But not TOO safe.
Hokay. So the next step is to make a few snips so your big rectangles resemble a camisole shape, sort of. Like this:
I eyeballed how wide the back piece should be and was off by prolly 4 inches. Because apparently in my head I have a giant Quasimodo hump? Maybe?
The front section will be gathered so it should be about 4/5 inches bigger than you are.
And SEW! Right sides together and whip up yer side seams. You could get all fancypants and french seam them for prettiness sake. Let's pretend I did that, kay?

So now you fold over and hem the raw top bits like this see:

And here lets pretend I folded them twice instead of leaving them raw edged like this. (Man, pinking shears made me lazy. Also, laziness made me lazy).

Ok. Time to do a spot o' gathering. And I'm using the sew-along-some-dental-floss method for this. I can't for the life of me remember where I saw this; but whomever invented it might need to go and collect their Noble Prize for Awesomeness. I've heard Stockholm is lovely this time of year.
Anyway, you sew a wide-ish zigzag along a piece of dental floss then gather it up all super smoothly. Like this see.

Then sew over your gathers to hold them in place.
Should be starting to look like a cami about now.
Time to add some straps. You could use a bit of bias binding, sewn over the gathers then extended to make straps (if you see what I mean).
But I happened to have this crochet trim and a powerful yen to use it. So I made straps like this:

Then stuck some more trim over the gathers and sewed up the bottom hem. An voila. Jammie top.

Now here's where the tute gets REALLY half-assed. There are about a million tutorials on making short out there in the interwebs. my very favourite is this one here by Dana of  MADE. It makes sense and has pretty pictures and everything. My shorts look like a pair of elasticated waist short shorts. Pretty uninspiring, they just happen to be made out of a pillowcase.  And there's not a power in the 'verse could convince me to model them on the intertubes.  But lookit, this is what the jammie top looks like on your's truly

And that's it. I'm going to have Cant Touch This in my head for WEEKS. Awesome.
This is it, for a winner Dance to this and you're gonna get thinner Move, slide your rump Just for a minute let's all do the bump, bump, bump 

Oh, and I shared here:

And at the new link par-tay over at Mine For The Making - DIY Diva Thursdays. You guys! FASHUN diys! I'm all over it like a bad smell!

Peachy Keen Mani - How To

I'll be posting a tute later today, with Jammies, and MC Hammer. (But sadly not for hammer-pant jammies, though the idea has merit). But I just wanted to coo a bit over my newest obsession. See:

No. Not Fingers, I've had those for ages. My newest obsession is quick-drying nail polish. Because... Awesome. Plainly awesome. Sally Hansen Insta-Dry I have (non paid endorsement) hearts for you.
And I wanted to share how I squeeze an extra couple of days out of polish if (when) it gets chipped at the ends:
Like ZIZ, see?

I think they look like slices of peach and the in these clashy colours they have an early Fresh Prince vibe going on (What? That's a thing right?)
They're also super easy to do. You wait til your base colour is looking kinda meh and a little chipped. Then you swipe a layer of contrasting colour over the tips at an angle. The insta-dry works brill for it cause it's REALLY opaque and pigment-y so you don't need two coats.  And done. 

And now for a long-winded anecdote!
So, I used to only ever wear two colours. EVER. Dark red on my toes and light pink on my fingernails. And that as the law and the law was... actually kind of dumb, but whatever. It's just what I did.
Anyway, I was picking up some polish to go with my Maid of Honour frock and trying to decide between Ballet Slipper sheer and Icy Pink sheer when Teddy was all,
"WELLOW! Mummy! Wellow! and Green and BLUE!"
 So I tried on a nailful of each and they were pretty and opaque-y and dried instantly, just like it says.
"Ooou" I said. But I bought the Ballet Slipper.
Then Teddy spent the rest of the day cooing over the pretty "Wellow" on the random nail I left painted.
So I picked up a "wellow".
Then a green. Then a bright bright pink. And a dark blue. And now I am powerless in the face of my addiction. (though I've been picking them up when they're on sale at like $4-5, which I justify in a "Hey, it's about the price of a Starbucks" way. Or by using my Drugstore points.)
My kid makes my life more colourful (and maybe braver) is what I'm saying here.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

political animals

This is something I wrote way back in the first few months of the year, and didn't post, it's a bit personal, and it has nothing to do with the stuff I normally write about here. But given how the rest of the summer has gone for me and the bizarro situation at home (in England) just now-ish, I figured what the hell.  So that's what this is, the backstory is the revolution in Egypt, which I watched compulsively on the BBC for hours and hours...

I've been pondering some other things.
Like, do you remember the moment you became an adult? Or that you took your first steps to adultiness? (If the moment  you're thinking of is a nekkid one then that's prolly not the one I mean.)
I mean the minutes, hours or days when your horizons broadened exponentially and the world turned into a place to be observed as opposed to a place to move through mindlessly.
Yah, then.
What's going on in Egypt right now has me thinking about this. 
My moment came with a revolution too.
It was late December of  1989 I was 11 (just). It was the second Christmas that the Fat-Man-in-Red wasn't an unassailable truth for me; and I was still so practiced at believing that it almost felt irrational not to believe.
Both my parents, my sibs, my Auntie M and Uncle Ant and my brand-new cousin Gabe were ensconced at a villa in Centre Parcs (80's, English, middle-class Resort and Center O' Funtimes). 
There are a few things that I recall about that holiday. A new teddy bear with a stern/charming face (named Edward, natch). Riding on the back on my dad's bike "yah mule yah!". Taking the big water chute for the first time. And the fall of Ceausescu's regime in Romania and the subsequent days of violence.  
This is me then.*

We are a family of obsessive news watchers. And it was a big year for news.  We watched as the Berlin wall fell. (2 days after my 11th birthday and the same day my teacher had confidently informed me that the wall would "never fall".)  My mum let me stay up late to watch that, but what we saw reported from Bucharest looked different to Berlin; Berlin was all all joyous faces and mullets. The faces in Bucharest were a grim mix of blistering fear, and something that looked unstoppable, hope maybe. We watched tanks firing on Ceausescu's palace and my world got bigger,  the concept of freedom solidified for me. 
I, of course, had no idea what it was like to live anything but a life of privilege, no concept of what the realities of oppression were (thank goodness), but I could feel, and see - writ large on people's faces - the idea that some things were worth fighting - and fighting ugly and bloody - for. 
That Look is in Egypt now;  on the faces of women; and in my (over simplified) opinion, young men always seem to be shouting about something, when young women break down a lifetime of conditioning and start shouting on the streets, well that's when the world is about to change. 
So I watch. Compulsively. For hours. Hoping for the usual things for the brave women and men on the streets, you know, peace, freedom, lives lived well and happily

*Oh my god. The sailor dress. Wowzers.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Right Stuff - or Teddy's ROCKETSHIP Party

My kid was born in February. You know, coldest, darkest, stinkin'est month of the year February. Lounging around on my balcony in the sunshine and warmth - which is totally what I'm doing now -  I can barely remember how lousy it is to be cold.
So Teddy's parties will probably always be of the indoor variety (unless he adopts an official birthday, like the Queen. Which actually isn't that bad an idea, come to think of it).
Without the option of bouncy structures and water-based outside shenanigans, themes are where it's at. His first birthday was a Mustache party. His second was  Monkey V's Robot. And never happened on account of copious amounts of sick (yay for birthdays in flu season. No wait, not yay.) And his 3rd was a ROCKET SHIP party. And it went a bit like this:
There were magnetic invitations to stick to the fridge, like this:

'Member the magnetic photo-backing stuff from this post? I loves it (in fact it might be my new favourite medium. It's my new clear plastic chopping board or contact paper) 

And star cookies like this:

And planet-decorated water bottles like this:

And an extraordinary cake, (made by my good chum Sarah, whom, it turns out, is a bloody genius cake decorator) like this: 

 This lousy picture doesn't do justice to the extreme awesomeness of the thing, or the fact that it was three different flavours of deliciousness and had marshmallow fondant and a picture of my kid on it.  For reals.

There was a photobooth wall, like this:

Made out of a plastic dollarstore tablecloth; with white stars and red planets -cut from plain white printer paper and recycled (as in, from the recycling pile) card - and double-sided taped onto the tablecloth.

There were (dollar store foam-core board) cut-outs of astronaut helmets, like these: 

 And a felt helmet for the birthday kid. Like this.

There were COSMOnauts  for the grown-ups (see, like cosmonaut, but with Cosmopolitans, see? see?You guys, that still makes me smirk) And Cosmo-NOTS for the non boozing crowd (that makes me smirk too! hearts for puns.)

We made the cocktails by the pitcher, using  large slugs of vodka, triple sec, lime cordial and low calorie cranberry juice, over ice, the cosmo-nots were orange juice, cranberry juice and a dash of lime cordial over squished up ice.

There were, I vaguely recall, other decoration type things too, and food maybe? But I (of course) forgot to take pictures.
At any rate, Teddy was fairly thrilled, and hijinx were had and the photobooth pictures turned out well. So I'm calling it a win
My sweetheart turns 40 (!) in a months time and I'm scrambling for an idea for that (his last two parties were superfuntimes, with secrets and red balloons and Grumpy Old Men).

Friday, August 5, 2011

been a while...

So, I accidentally neglected my blooge for O, 'bout 6 months. But here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to distract myself with a picture of my kid, get a bit caught up, THEN... pretend it NEVER happened.
What never happened?
So here's my kid and me driving a tractor - you may not recognise him on account of how he's turned into PRACTICALLY AN ADULT.

So. there's that, now about the catching up part. Expect a slew o' posts that make not-a-lot of chronological sense. 
And some politics. 
I have, up to now, avoided politics 'round here but it's been a very politisised early summer for me so I'm going to talk about it. And some of it is contentious; so I won't be offended if you're all 
"WHAT THE DEUCE? This woman is the worst kind of wishy washy liberal. I must unfollow her IMMEDIATELY, if not sooner."  
But before that there'll be a picture heavy write up of my kid's 3rd burfday party.  And me bragging on my HOLY-COW-I-DID-A-TRIATHLON! prowess. 
So, consider yourself fore-warned. 
Also? you guys? I've missed you and I hope your summer has been BLOODY BRILLIANT so far.
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