Thursday, December 15, 2011

Snippets from my day job

You may or may not know this about me, but this year I have taken on a "nanny" job.  My youngest in in Kindergarten now, and this job was an answer to prayer.  I was looking for something that wouldn't take me away from my family on nights, weekends, or summers.  Or snow days.  Or holiday breaks.  Or any day that my kids were sick.   And I didn't want to have to leave our new doggie in her crate all day long.

So you see, my demands were extremely reasonable and simple. 

My plan was to get an Etsy shop up and running.  I couldn't think of any other income-producing thing that would meet my list of "requirements" for my family time.  I had just been praying about what God wanted me to do...understanding that "unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain" (Psalm 127:1).  I wanted to stay home and build my Etsy store.  But I didn't want to do it if God had something else in mind.  And in August, a friend of mine called me to see if I'd be interested in taking care of her kids during the day; she'd just gotten a teaching job.  So that' nights, weekends, summers, holidays, snow days, sick I could even bring the piggie-doggie with me if I wanted to.  AND, it was a guaranteed paycheck, unlike the uncertainty of how much I could earn on Etsy, and how long it would take to even get that ball rolling.  So I agreed to do it.

(Did I mention that my friend has 7 kids?  Oh, and the oldest one is 7.  They got married and had a baby every single year for 7 years.)

It is probably one of the most challenging jobs I've ever had, actually.  I tell people what I do, and almost 100% say, "are you crazy?"  (which by the way I think is kind of rude...but I know they don't mean it that way.)  When I've been out with only a few of the kids, people ask me the things I hear actual moms of lots of kids talk about, like..."are they all yours?" and things like that.  And I think, ha.  You think 4 is a lot?  I've got the rest of them stashed away at school right now...just wait till they get home.  THAT'S a lot!

It did take me the better part of the ENTIRE FALL to get used to handling all 7 at a time.  My whole perspective has changed.  I now think that having "only" 3 kids in the house - the baby, toddler, and preschooler - is a piece of cake.  (In what kind of world-gone-mad is that a piece of cake???)  And being at home with my own two school-age kids?  Absolute luxury. 

Well anyway, I always enjoy having a job where I have lots of stories to tell over dinner.  With this job, I am never at a loss for a funny story.  Here are some snippets from the last several weeks...

[With a great deal of urgency] "Do you know what, Miss Rachel?  There's a kind of ant that can eat your skin."
[Amidst the din of 7 children running all over the house] "Miss Rachel, could you please be quieter?  I'm trying to practice my piano."
"WAAAAH!"  What's wrong?  "I BIT MY HAND, WAAAAH!"  Well, maybe you should take it out of your mouth.  [Indignantly] "NO!"
"MISS RACHEL!  CanIgooutsideandplayinGod'sbeautifulcreation?  Pleeeeease?"
[After seeing my little white dog run downstairs with several green marker lines down her back]...Um, [6yo], why did you draw on Maggie?  "I didn't.  I was leaning on her while I was drawing on a piece of paper and the paper slipped."  (Incidentally, the green marker also "slipped" onto her bedroom carpet, forming the words "I Love Maggie" with several hearts around it.) 
[While explaining why kids aren't invited to girls' night out]..."Is it because you need some chill time with other adults?"  Yes.  How do you know about that?  "Mom says that to Dad a lot."  I'll bet she does.  I'll bet she does. 
[Me, to the 2yo]: Did you get to sit on Santa's lap?  Yes!  And what did you ask him for, for Christmas?  [Forcefully, with great conviction] a PWESHENT! 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Highs and Lows: Midweek Edition

...Because it's Wednesday night already, but it feels like yesterday was Saturday, so this sort of counts as a Sunday post, if we go by how I feel and not what's on the calendar...

1. This sounds like an incredibly lame "high," and maybe it is.  DH & I, on Sunday (the REAL Sunday), went to both church AND "Sunday school for grown-ups."  That's what I did all growing up, and it's always felt a little weird to me that we haven't done it since we've been married.  For like, a decade.  The class we're going to is really good and very interesting, and there are donuts, and it's not important to get there on time, because there's about 20 minutes of social time first.  Score!  Plus, the kids don't mind - they actually enjoy - being at church for that extra hour or so. 

2. All the supportive comments I got from my last post were really cool.  It is really great to know that there are people who are on the same page as me. 

3. Went to MOPS yesterday and re-connected with some friends that I don't feel like I see very much anymore.  Not as much as I used to, anyway.  This is my last year for MOPS.  If you have young children (kindergarten and younger, down to infant), and you have a MOPS (Moms of Preschoolers) group in your area, you should definitely consider going.  You drop your kid(s)(ss) off with the childcare workers for free, and then go in and have some food and adult conversation with other moms.  It can be such a lifesaver!  Here's a link: Find a Local MOPS Group.  I don't work for them or anything, don't worry.  ;)  I just wanna pass it on!

1. My car hasn't blown up yet so that we can get insurance money to just get a new one.  I keep hoping that one day I'll walk outside, and find that it has spontaneously combusted.  What a piece of junk!  It has LESS than 40K on it and already we've had to replace the alternator, and now it's doing something else that sounds like it's gonna be expensive, too.  I'm so frustrated!  If you are thinking about a Dodge Caliber, just do yourself a favor and DON'T.  I just want to trade it in and get a new one.  But we would probably get more money for it if it just exploded.  Keeping fingers crossed...

2. My sister has not moved to my town yet.  Not that she has plans to.  I just wish she would.  She lives in another TIME zone, for the love of Pete.  13 hours away.  I miss her.  Thank goodness for all-inclusive cell phone plans. 

3. This was a few weeks ago, but I realize that I haven't griped about it online yet: I spent weeks knitting my dog Maggie a sweater.  And the blasted thing is too big.  It looks like a Snuggie, and she just walks right out of it.  Sigh. 

Well, I mainly just wanted to say "hi" to those of you who read & comment.  Hi! :)  I'm still here, just doin' my thang.  Maybe soon I'll have something pretty & ruffly to share...................  ;)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Blogging with Integrity: Where I Stand

Hi!  I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving.  We had a good time at our house.  I cooked for just seven of us, and we played Pictionary that night.  What a blast!  I always forget how fun that game is! 

OK.  I have something I just have to get out there.  I guess I have to put out a disclaimer first, though: I'm NOT judging anyone.  Other bloggers can do whatever the heck they want, it really has no effect on my life.  I'm not in this "blog thing" for any reason except that I enjoy talking about myself and showing off my projects to the people on the computer.  ;)

I came across this post on Crafterminds the other day.  Another disclaimer: I love Crafterminds!  Awesome blog.  This is nothing against them, or anyone.  Just...just go read the post.  I want to know what you think.  If you are a blogger, or a blog reader - I want to know what you think.

Here is the comment I posted:

 Wow. I have such mixed feelings on reading these confessions! Yeah, it’s nice to be reminded that other bloggers are not “perfect.” And the confessions are funny! Not sayin’ they’re not. 

But on the other hand, it also makes me wonder why I bother. If I faked finishing projects just to get a good pic for my blog…well I could have a heck of a lot more projects to show. 

Sponsored posts are bad enough to read (come on let’s be honest); now I have to wonder if the blogger really likes the product or not? Eww. Sorry, but eww. 

I’m proud to say that everything on my blog is the real deal. It’s a small blog and I don’t churn out fantastic creative project posts every other day, but oh well! It’s kind of disappointing to know that now, I have to wonder about other bloggers “if they really did that” or not. This whole thing just makes me think twice about the whole blogging thing in general. Kind of a bummer.:(

I hope this doesn’t sound judgmental. I’m really not judging – people can do whatever they want! We all have our reasons for doing what we do. I’m just kind of disappointed, that’s all.


What do YOU think of all this?

Edited to add: 
Not to beat a dead horse or anything, but I noticed that my comment (on the Crafterminds blog) has been removed, as well as the rather defensive response to it.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Do you do Christmas cards?

*Family members!  If you want to be surprised, don't look at the picture below.  ;)*

So, we're doing Christmas cards this year for the first time in probably 2-3 years. I won't even get into it...well, OK, I will. 

EVERY year, the issue is one or both of the following:

a. we don't have a good (or any) picture of all 6 of us.  In my opinion, once you have kids, you need to send out a picture of them for The People.  The People do not want a lame card with no pic; they want to see the kids!  But I have popular and busy stepkids with better things to do than pose for family photos, OK?  And we don't all live under the same roof.  AND I'm not a "Kodak moment" kind of person.  I often forget my camera and have to rely on more responsible family members to send me the pics that they take.  I'm ashamed to say that I currently have more stinkin' pictures of tutorials - my hands putting fabric through a sewing machine, for instance - than I do of my own precious family.  How SAD is that?  More on that later...oh trust me.  More on that later.  So there's that.


b. we don't have (read: I don't like to pry open our proverbial wallet to spend) the cash for STAMPS, let alone the cards. I remember when stamps were .22 cents! How annoying that everything is so expensive now.

This year, however, the planets have all aligned.

We have GREAT pictures of all 6 of us, taken professionally at the beach this summer.  I got a killer deal from the photographer, who included his print release as a part of the package. NOT that I think we have to have "professional pics or nothing" to send out...we just happen to this year. 

Also, when I ordered my kids' school pictures this year, I was so happy because if you ordered them online (which I always prefer to do anyway...writing checks is such a pain) (yes, that is grammatically correct.  It just doesn't sound like it is.), where was I?  If you ordered them online, you got a $20 credit at Shutterfly.  Well, I ordered two packages, so I got a $40 credit!  Woo-hoo!  That definitely softened the blow of having to drop $44 on school pictures.  Ouch.

So after much playing around and trying out different card designs today, here's the one I ordered:
Photo Card
View the entire collection of cards.
Yay for Christmas cards!  Stamps are still .44 cents, darn it. That's the only thing.  But oh well, everything else worked out great so I guess I can suck it up this year and just do it.  ;)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Highs and Lows: Cheerleading Edition

Well, let me tell you, I had no earthly clue what we signed up for when we signed our 8 year old Abby up for competition cheerleading.  How silly of me to think that this would be a good and fun experience for her!  I know many of you have been following the ups & downs of "she made it!"..."she might be bumped off"..."no she made it again"..."no wait"..."Ok she's on the squad for real this time..."  So once we got past all that nonsense, the squad was able to buckle down and learn their routine...more or less.   40-some practices between August and November.  Can you believe that?  As the chief taxi driver, I can definitely believe it.  ;) 

The last few weeks of this have been really emotionally draining, but let me try give you the cliff-notes version:

That's Abby on the right - the taller one. :)
 About 2 weeks ago, the head coach stepped down.  (Ding! Dong! The Wicked Witch is dead!) Of course it was right after the ONE parents' meeting that I was unable to attend. Don't know first-hand what happened there.  We were so happy - assured Abby that practices would be a lot better now, without this woman's sarcasm and abrasiveness.  She was just really rude.  Sure, she knew cheerleading, but did not have a clue how to coach kids.  So we were really happy that she was gone.  Well, sort of.  About a day later, we found out that she was coming back "to assist with tumbling" or whatever.  Oh, great. 

A practice or two later, Abby came home crying.  Again.  This doesn't happen every time, but it has happened enough.  She said that the "new" head coach told them that their formation "sucked," and they made the girls "run around the gym until their sides hurt."  I was like, whaaaaa????  (After talking to another coach, I found out that they had to do 3 laps around the tiny gym - not that it makes it OK, but they were never told to run "till their sides hurt.") 

I told all this to DH, and he said what I was thinking, too: "let's pull her off the squad."  I was like, YES!  She'll be so happy.  Enough is enough.  So we went up to her room to tell her this "good" news...and she was not exactly happy about it.  Her first competition was in 4 days, and she really wanted to compete.  Oh.  Not expecting that.  But I can totally understand.  She has put in all the hard work, and she wants to experience the payoff.  So this was our solution:  she doesn't get dropped off at practice anymore.  One of us stays there the entire time, "closed practice" policy be damned.  These coaches obviously can't be trusted to treat these girls right.  After a lengthy and tiresome phone conversation with the "new" head coach, she agreed to let me or DH stay there during practice.  I did have to play the "If I can't be there then neither can Abby" card - which I was dead serious about - and I think when she realized that I was serious, she relented.

The older girls on the squad LOVE her!  It's really sweet to see them all treat her like a little sister.  I'm thankful for that.
 Sat through two practices, everything was fine.  Great!  ...Right? 

So.  Yesterday was the first competition.  What a thrill to see our girl out there on that floor!  She did great...the whole squad did great.  We were so proud.  :)   So they came in last in their division...honestly, who cares?  They did so great.

Tonight, back to practice.  As we walk into the gym, the parents get pulled into a side room, off the gym, for a meeting.  I figured it was about the upcoming competition next weekend, no big deal.  Well I looked down into the gym and saw the OLD head coach there, barking at the girls.  The NEW head coach was up with us, the parents.  She gives us this song and dance about how "we all owe [old head coach] an apology and a 'thank you' for all the work she's done."  I almost guffawed right out loud.  Then she told us that "some parents" (meaning, ME) have been asking if they can sit in on practices.  In a very attitudinal way, she told us that there is no way they're going to allow that, and if we can't "get behind the coaches" and comply, then they don't want our girls there, and not to bring them to the next practice.  Then she started to walk out of the room!  I said "hey, [new head coach], are you really not open to discussion on this?"  She gave me a nasty look and said no.

I stepped outside to call DH.  We discussed it for less than 5 minutes.  He said that he was 100% behind me.  So I went into that gym, packed up Abby's stuff, and quietly motioned for her to come with me.  And we left.  And that's the end.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pretty New Oven Mitts

I am in the middle of a luxurious 4-day weekend right now.  Yesterday my kids had off from school for parent-teacher conferences (and of course today is Veterans' Day), and I'm lucky enough to have a job where, if my kids are home from school, then I get to stay home, too.  Yesterday I spent the day doing big-time cleaning. This morning I spent it sewing.  Now we're watching the Wizard of Oz, with the smell of Creamy Tortellini Soup in the crock pot.  I could get used to this!  (Too bad we'll be ending the day with a 3-hour cheer practice...more on that later, my highs and lows on Sunday, I'll tell you all about it.)

Anyway, this morning I made a set of oven mitts for myself.  My old ones were narsty!  Not to mention, the "protective" lining had somehow come apart from the outside, so if I forgot to double up on hot pads before getting something out of the oven, I'd burn myself.  Nice, right?  Ugly and non-functional! And yet, they've been hanging in my kitchen for who-knows-how-long. 

Check out the newer, younger model(s):

I went to Joann's with the intention of buying some Waverly fabric - the same as I used in my friend's chair cushions - but I found this, and it was significantly less expensive, and I thought it was just adorable. 

I followed this tutorial.  It was really easy to put these together.  The one change I made was, I used a different fabric for the lining, not wanting to "waste" this cute fabric.  Does the lining look familiar?  ;) 

Next week, I'll be linking these up to the Thanksgiving Dinner Challenge hosted by Sara at Sew Sweetness.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Needle Book

So, speaking of embroidery, I'm getting ready to start my ill-fated map of the United States tonight.  I can't wait!  I love maps, atlases, globes...all of it.  I can name every state capitol, too, and I'm darn proud of it.  ;)

When I finished up my recent project (the orange/red/yellow flower embellishment thingy from my last post), I needed a place to put my needle.  The pincushion is out of the question, because LITTLE FINGERS in my house like to push needles way down into the pincushion, never to be found again.  I often go into my sewing room to find all the pins in my pincushion arranged in some clever way, or in a pattern, or ALL pushed down...who needs Toys R Us?  I think I'll just get the kids a pack of pins this Christmas. 

So I made this little needle book out of felt and covered it with some scrap fabric - which was actually a cloth napkin from the Dollar Tree - isn't it cute?

I have to admit, I lifted this idea 100% from this post on Betz White's blog.  It's kind of similar to an exact replica of her needle books.  I love everything she does.  Just want to give credit where credit is due.  ;)

This would be a perfect little gift for all of my friends who do needlework!  Except that I don't have any that I know of.  Boo-hoo!

I can't help it.  I love to link.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Misadventures in Embroidery

I like to refer to cross-stitch as my "gateway" craft.  It's what started it all for me.  It was the summer of 1996 - the only reason I remember this, is because the Summer Olympics were on TV.  I had just broken up with some loser boyfriend, and was all upset about it.  I needed something to distract myself.  So I went to Joann's, wandered around, and bought a bunch of stuff from the cross-stitch aisle.  I thought I'd make a wedding gift for my friend.  I ended up cross-stitching a Precious Moments bride & groom.  :) I was SO PROUD of that thing!  And more importantly, I was totally hooked.  I cross-stitched a LOT after that.  Always working on a project.  I think when the kids came along, that's when the needlework went away.  (Need I explain?)  I found other things to kind of be creative with - sewing being the biggest one - and when I learned to knit, it felt SO RIGHT to me.  I couldn't put my finger on it at first, but I realized it was something for my hands to do. Since developing carpal tunnel is on my bucket list, this is just perfect.  Just kidding.

Anyway, so fast forward a couple more years (like, now), and I started reading Allison's blog (she's going to think I'm a stalker because I mention her on here so much - I'm not!  I promise!!!), and looking at needlework on Pinterest (wanna see my "needlework" board?), and realizing that it's not all just Precious Moments and fruit baskets and horse heads anymore.  There is a lot of really cool, modern designs out there.  And I figured, hey, my kids are old enough now, they know not to try to eat the needles...maybe I'll try this again! 

So I thought I'd try embroidery - I didn't feel like messing with a cross stitch pattern just now.  Here are some things I've been doing over the last few weeks.

Here's the first thing I embroidered.  It's OK, you won't hurt my feelings.  I know it sucks.  Well, those blue lazy daisies in the middle are good.  But the rest?  Not good, ha ha!  But I wasn't expecting it to be great; just wanted to try something out.  Apparently I was on a learning curve with the "stem stitch." 
After playing around a bit on some scrap fabric, I moved on to this.  Better, right?  :)
Check out the French Knottage...not too shabby!

The curved orange line is done in stem stitch - can you tell a difference from my teapot?  Ha ha!

So at this point I've got all kinds of confidence.  And I think, I've got this.  So I ordered an iron-on transfer pattern from Etsy.  And I realize that my sense of confidence may be a little...well, inflated.

I learned a new stitch or two.  That's in my brain now.  Which means something had to go, to make room for this new knowledge.  The fact that PLASTIC MELTS WHEN UNDER A HOT IRON was, as I found out, the bit of info that drew the short straw and got tossed overboard.

Why yes, that unsightly blob IS permanently melted-on USPS packing tape.  Why do you ask?  
I couldn't find the masking tape, OK?  Oh, also, I didn't think to cut out the seller's logo from the pattern  before ironing it onto the fabric.
Can you even imagine my IRE at this point?  No, you can't.
 Oh, and?  I'm not very good at ironing patterns onto things.  Observe:
Double ugh!
 "Luckily," the pattern instructions said that you may be able to get another use out of it, if you apply heat for a little longer.  So I try that.  It didn't work.  :(  Well, I paid money for this thing, and I'm not paying for it again to get a new one.  So my job now is to deal with the mistakes and make it work!  I have some ideas...but I'm open to ideas, too. 

Linking up:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Highs and Lows: It's November already??? edition

I like to keep my "Highs and Lows" posts sporadic and unpredictable, just to make things exciting around here.

HIGHS for the week:
1. Trick or Treating was fun this year.  Check out my cute kids!

We recycled Abby's Alice in Wonderland dress from last year, which thankfully still fit, and just made her a different apron, and gave her some ruby slippers.  And Toto.  The ruby slippers were such a pain to make!  I thought it would be much easier than it was.  I spray-adhesive...d some shoes (that she doesn't wear) and sprinkled red glitter on them.  You'd THINK that would be really easy.  It wasn't.  I don't recommend it. 

Nolan wanted to be a cat, originally.  I talked him out of it.  When I was young, I rode the bus with this kid who thought he was a cat.  I can't have my son going down that path.  I don't know if I was being a good mother, or a bad mother (by not letting him be a cat) - but I don't care.  So his second choice?  A black crayon.  Can do!  Is he not the most adorable crayon ever???  That's just a big piece of posterboard with felt covering it, and then felt for the "crayola" logo.  I sewed overall-type straps on, and it velcro...d closed in the back.  My favorite part of this costume is that hat.  Too stinkin cute!

2. This weekend was the annual event at my church called "Chocolatta."  It's a thing that our women's ministry does...basically, we pack into a big room, and people bring all kind of chocolate desserts as far as the eye can see, and we just have a great time! Lots of talking and laughing and visiting, and there's usually one or two women who speak and give their testimonies of how God has worked in their lives.  Some friends of mine and me made it a girls night out.  I even did my makeup for the occasion.  ;)

I'm sure there were more highs; I'm just having a hard time remembering what happened this morning, let alone the whole past week...

1. You cannot imagine the cheerleading drama that has taken place in this week alone.  I can't even get into it without raising my blood pressure.  Had I known it was going to be like this, there is NO WAY I would have encouraged Abby to sign up.  NO WAY!  It will be a cold day in you-know-where if I ever sign her up for this again.

Again, I'm sure there were more lows...I'm just not remembering much right now.  Oh well, you can listen to me gripe any old time!

(Linking to Life, Crafts & Whatever.  :)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Help me decide!

Which bear is best?
Well, there are basically two schools of thought...
WRONG!  It is a Black Bear.

Sorry...don't know where that came from.  ;)

Anyway, I'm entering a contest!  It's called So You Think You Can Sew, hosted by Mommy by Day, Crafter by Night.  I have to submit a project that I think best shows my sewing skills.  I know what I think took the most skill, but it's hard for me to look at my own projects objectively.  So I'm putting it to a vote.  Can you guys help me out?   What do you think would have the best shot at getting me into a competition?

Here are the three projects I think are the best, in terms of sewing: (in no particular order!)
Spring Top
Ava Bag
Chair Slipcover

Look at the posts if you want, or just look at the pictures.  And if you would be so kind, would you please vote for one of them, in the sidebar to the right?  Thank you so much!  You can only imagine the process I put my husband through when I can't decide on which shoes to wear...

Monday, October 31, 2011

Laptop Cover for under $5

Hey there! How was everyone's weekend? Mine was extremely restful and very nice. Saturday was scheduled to be a really busy day...we were going to go to a cheerleading competition (just to watch) and then ice skating with friends, and then to church (because I forgot that DH was not working Sunday). Well, I woke up Saturday morning to my little guy standing next to my bed.  I said "hey Buddy!" and he said, "Mommy, did you recognize that it's snowing outside?"  (Did I "recognize?"  How cute!)  Uh, no, I didn't recognize that, but it could be the answer to all of my un-prayed prayers for the day.  So I went over to the window with him, and sure enough, we had time warped from October to February.  It was coming down hard!  Everything was coated with about 3-4"...even Mr. Plow was out.  Perfect!  I got to cancel going to the cheer competition, and we all agreed to save ice skating for another day, and then I realized that DH did not have to work on Sunday, so we didn't go to church Saturday was a day of loafing.  Movie watching, card playing, minimal cleaning/laundry (minimal)...and some sewing!  

I've had my laptop since June, and I have been wanting to sew a cover for it since about...June.  ;)  It was hard to decide, because there are so many styles and different tutorials out there, but I settled on this one because I just wanted something simple that would keep it from getting scratched up, but one that I didn't have to mess with a zipper or pouch every time I wanted to use it.  

So I dug out some fabric - actually, it was a skirt from Goodwill! - and some felt, because I thought that would give it a little padding without being puffy.  I do not like puffy.  I'm not a puffy person.

Anyway, it was really easy to sew...just basic straight lines and all.  It took very little of my precious time.  ;) And when I finished, I was happy, but not really.  

 I mean, it's does a's made of cute fabric...but I don't know.  I just wasn't thrilled.  For one thing, I mentioned that this fabric used to be a skirt.  Well, do you see the seam about an inch up from the tab (in the first picture)?  That bothered me.  So...I busted out my ribbon stash and made a little cute thingy to slap on top of the seam, and slapped a button on the tab.  Lots of slapping involved here.'s definitely better.  Cuter!  But I still wasn't completely happy, because...

...because I tend to be lazy and I don't want to mess with taking this thing on & off my computer every time I want to use it.  And since I don't have x-ray vision, this is a problem.  

So I thought, well, the fabric (skirt) cost me about $3.  And I've got about an hour invested into this thing.  So if I ruin it, no real harm done.  Deep breath...

OK, so after I cut out a little "TV screen" around the screen, I did the "lazy girl hem" all around it, which is just a zigzag stitch that goes halfway on the fabric & halfway off.  It's sort of like faux-serging, but not really.  I don't know.  I just didn't want it to look all ghetto like it does in the picture above.  

Because nothing says "class" more than covering a computer with some used piece of clothing I scavenged from Goodwill.

Anyway, it all worked out, and now I have a cute laptop cover that I don't have to mess with.  I can finally move on with my life!

Friday, October 28, 2011

ghosts, goblins, and....pimps???

I know I'm going to sound like the Church Lady here. I don't care. 

I was at my kids' Halloween parade at school this morning.  

Watching the kids all walk around the gym in their costumes, I have to say, it was about 1,000,000% better this year, now that they've instituted the "no masks" rule.  It is always just kind of shocking to me, to see what parents let their little kids get dressed up as.  Now, I'm one of those people who gets scared just walking through the video store (remember those?) and seeing the horror movie DVD covers.  So maybe I'm biased, but I think there are a lot of really disturbing costumes out there.  And the masks are really scary and gross!  So it was really nice to not have to see those this year.  


I saw this one kid walk into the gym, all dressed up and dapper-looking in a pinstripe suit and fedora, and my first thought was, he looks like Cosmo Kramer, the Assman! Ha ha.  And then I saw another kid in the exact same costume, same suit & hat and all.  I thought, it must be some character or something....if they're mass producing this costume...I wonder who it is?  So I ask the mom sitting next to me.  What's with the pinstripe suit costumes?  She looked at me like I had three heads.  Then she told me, "they're pimps."

Umm...these kids are like, 8.  Are they specifically asking to be pimps for Halloween?  Or is this their parents' idea?  Either way, pretty sad.  Like, think about this:  2nd graders are dressing up for Halloween as someone who finds men to have sex with prostitutes, basically.  And the schools have their panties all in a wad about bullying?  I mean, yeah, bullying is bad. It is.  But um...we have children dressing up as pimps quote The Lion King...and everybody's OK with that?  Are you kidding me?

Like I said, Church Lady.  Sorry.  I'm really not trying to judge.  I'm just trying to be a voice of reason.  Has our culture wandered so far away from basic right & wrong, that things like this are now OK, and I'm the weirdo for thinking it's not?

well isn't that special?
*Edited to add*
Uh, I don't feel stupid or anything.  It was a gangster costume!  Thank you Toni for enlightening me!!!  Apparently, on my blog as well as in "real" life, I continue to put my foot in my mouth. 
Heh heh. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Quick Knit: the GAP-tastic Cowl

Just in time for the cold (read: soon-to-be frigid) weather here in western PA…I finished my GAP-tastic Cowl.   It has been in my Ravelry queue for probably going on 2 years now. (And by the way, if you’re on Ravelry too, add me as a friend! I don’t know that many people on there, and it’s fun to see what my friends are doing.

Anway…the Gap-tasic Cowl. It’s ridiculously huge, bulky, and squishy.  And need I say warm?  I love it! I used just 2 skeins of Lion Brand Wool-Ease thick & quick, with size 13 needles. Whoa. Talk about a fast knit. I did most of it while at a conference – sitting in an arena for about 6-8 hours a day, for two days – this projects was perfect for that. It’s a “mindless knit," meaning there are no charts or complicated patterns to follow. It’s knitted in moss stitch (or seed stitch, I always get those confused)…but anyway, it goes “knit, purl, knit, purl…….” until you’re done. (Basically.)  Wanna see some pics?  :)

Check out those stitches!  Love it!
I know my one "real life" knitter (crocheter/spinner/yarn dye-r/general fiber magician) friend Allena is a reader here.  When I was learning to knit, she was the one who fixed all my mistakes for me helped me figure out how to fix my own mistakes (ahem), and showed me more advanced things, such as "picking up stitches" and all that nonsense.   Do I have any other knitting friends here?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

DIY Blog Design: my experience

Hey, what do you think of my facelift?  I’m happy with it…I’ve been wanting to do this for a while now.  As I have mentioned, I’m really not the most tech-savvy person that ever lived.  But I thought, well, there are tons of tutorials out there on how to do this sort of thing, so I’m sure I could figure it out!  And while that’s true, and I did pretty much figure it out, it took a LOT longer than I expected it to.  Of course, I foolishly thought I could knock out a new blog in about, oh, an evening.  Um…nope.  If you have the time (not that I do) and the inclination, here are some great resources I found:

Makin' Cute Blogs – such a wealth of information on DIY blog design.  Tons of tutorials.  I followed a video tutorial to figure out Pixlr (see below) and do my layout – so helpful! 

ColourLovers – that’s where I made my background.  It is a really fun site where you can “color” patterns and play around.  Rather addictive.

Pixlr – it’s like a dumbed-down version of the dumbed-down version of Photoshop.  (Did I say “dumbed-down?”  I think I meant “simplified.”)  Which is perfect for me.  I don’t need all the crazy stuff; I just need to like, arrange a few cute little graphics and save them as an image.  Oh, and Pixlr is free, and you don’t have to download anything.  Love it!

Shabby Princess – such cute graphics, many of them free.

Star Sunflower Studio – ditto on the cute free graphics.

Photobucket – really easy-to-use site for hosting images, so I don’t have to have them all cluttering up my desktop.  Oh wait, they’re still there, cluttering up my desktop.  But if I wanted to, I could take care of that.  Photobucket makes it easy to copy & paste MAGICAL AND MYSTERIOUS CODE into your blog’s template.

Anyway, that’s pretty much it…questions, comments, suggestions?  I’m open to them! 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Blog Design - help me please!

***Edited to add***
Hey, I think I figured it out!  :)  My "design" page looks a little funky; everything is pushed to one side.  If anyone knows how to fix this and wants to let me in on it, that would be great.  But looks like things are switched over pretty well.  Yay!

OK, so I have been muddling through a bunch of tutorials, "user-friendly" photoshop-like software, and HTML (which stands for HaTe My Life, I think) for the last week or so, and I have finally come up with a pretty cute new blog design.  Fun stuff!  I had been going back and forth about whether to hire someone, or try doing it myself.  Every time I was about to hit the button to get on a waiting list (everyone seems to have a wait list!), I just couldn't do it.  It's hard for me to feel OK about spending good money on something that I can do myself...I mean, I can at least follow a tutorial and figure it out.

Having done it myself, I now see the definite VALUE in getting someone who knows what they're doing to do it!  That's OK though.  I'm proud of myself - and I can't wait to get my new design on here...which is where one of you comes in, hopefully!

Is there anyone who knows how to install a whole new blog template thingy?  I've looked for tutorials and haven't found any.  I would love some help with this.  If you would like to help, check here: __  and email me at pleasedaspunch.rh (at) gmail (dot) com.  Thanks in advance!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Highs and Lows: How Old Am I? Edition

Highs and Lows of the week...well, I can hardly remember much about the past week, so I'll just cover my weekend.  There was plenty in there, really.  And keep in mind the following lows aren't exactly "lows"...let's just call this a list of Highs and a list of Things That Slightly Annoyed Me This Weekend.

HIGH: went to my cousin's wedding.  I love weddings!  This one was very nice, too.  My little cousin is all grown up.  It made me want to do mine over again.  Just plan it again, that is.  And have my hair done differently, and most definitely have a different cake.  And DJ.  The DJ we had for our blessed event 10 years ago continues to be the butt of jokes around here, to this day.  Let's just say, you get what you pay for.  I should never be in charge of selecting a DJ, ever again. 

LOW: I missed my exit on the turnpike on the way out to my parents' house.  WTH???  I must have made that drive at least 1,000,000 times or so in my life.  That was annoying. 

HIGH: I found a dress for this that I was very happy with.  That's always fun.  It's really cute, and it was on sale.  I hope I get to wear it again.  I don't dress up much, these days.  And by "these days," I mean...ever.

LOW: I totally bit it trying to get out of my church pew after the ceremony.  Right into the shoulders of some hapless, unsuspecting wedding-goer who was "lucky" enough to be right there to catch me.  It was totally awesome to look like a crazy drunk lady in church at 3 in the afternoon.  Awesome, I tell you. 

HIGH: 3 words: Pumpkin Pie Martini...s.  

LOW: I had to go stag to this thing, as it was pretty much an adult-only reception, and someone had to stay home and care for our young brood.  That was kind of a bummer.  I like to dance with my husband.  I didn't get to.  Waaah.  (I think I can hear the world's tiniest violin...)  Also notably missing was my sister, who lives like 13 hours away and for some strange reason, didn't want to shell out $300 for a plane ticket to spend less than 24 hours in the great state of PA.  Whatever.  It would have been even way more fun with both her and my dear DH there. 

ANOTHER LOW: Apparently I'm super-old now.  I recognized NONE of the songs that all the cool kids were dancing to.  Well except for the song that my 8yo does her cheer dance routine to.  They did some line dance that USED to be the Electric Slide, but I had no idea what it was. I guess it was like, the new line dance that people do at weddings, and I was OUT.  Just sitting there wondering, How can I not know this?  Has it really been that long?  I mean, I guess we're past the era of friends' weddings, for the most part. 

Oh, also...I saw my (much) younger cousins whom I hadn't seen in at least 8 years or so...and I totally did that thing..."oh my goodness!  The last time I saw you, you were this big!"  The words just fell out before I could stop them.  Old!

Oh, also...I actually had a relative (an adult who should know better) ask me how old I was, in front of a bunch of people.  WTH?  Usually I don't think of good responses to dumb questions until a day or so later, but I was so proud of myself because I said, "I'm old enough that you shouldn't be asking me how old I am."  Yessssss!

HIGH:  coming home to DH, my kids, the dog, a Steelers game, and kielbasa & kraut in the crock pot. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tutorial (sort of): Cheerleading Hair Bows

Funny story time!

I was at a cheerleading parents' meeting about a month ago.  (That's not the funny part - it gets better!)  I was carrying my Thirty-One bag - the one with the changeable skirt - and it was a skirt that I made.  (I mentioned it here, but that was a while ago.)  Here's the one I was carrying, just because it would be kinda lame to talk about it and not show a picture:

Anywho, so I got to the meeting, and one of the other moms said, "oooh, I like your purse!"  I of course said "Why thank you!  It's one of those bags where you can change out the skirt - but I make my own skirts because there's no way I'm spending any $25 on the ones in the catalog."  And I said it with attitude.  Like, "Ha, I stuck it to the man, and they can just deal with it" attitude.  To which she replied, "ha ha, I sell Thirty-One bags.  I'm a consultant!"  To which I replied, "Oh!  Uh, um, uh, um, uh, um...oh...I'm sorry!" Stupid, stupid, stupid!  I felt so dumb.  Luckily for me, she didn't care.  In fact, she thought it was pretty funny.

But Rachel!  You say.  What does this story have to do with Cheerleading Hair Bows?  Well let me tell you.  For you crafty types, you know how this goes.  "Oh, you sew?  Wow!  Hey, she sews!"  And then..."Do you do hair bows?"  Hmm.  No, not really.  But I'm up for anything, especially not having to shell out unnecessary cash for some mass-produced, overpriced hair bow.  So basically, I volunteered to do the hair bows for the squad.  They didn't want anything crazy; they just wanted simple basic bows that go on ponytails.  Can do!

I used this tutorial and adapted it a bit.  These cost about $1 each to make.  $1 each!  I bought my ribbon in 20-yard spools.  I probably used about 10 yards of each.

Here's how I did it:
1. Cut ribbon lengths.  To make 22, I cut 22 lengths of each, in 3 different ribbon widths: 1.5", 7/8", and 3/8".  Each length was about 20".  I cut each end into a "v" shape* by folding the ribbon in half (long-ways) and cutting it diagonally.  The skinny ones were a pain to do, but that's ok.

 2. Seal the edges.  Using child labor* (my 8yo), each end of all 66 ribbon lengths was sealed with Fray Check. 
Fray Check is awesome stuff, and it lasts forever.
 3. Assemble the ribbons and machine-sew* together, with the ponytail holders.
Here are my 3 ribbons.

Here they are, centered and stacked together.

I folded them over in the middle...

held the ponytail holder to the underside...

...and sewed back and forth 2-3 times using a zigzag stitch.  I cannot be bothered with hand-sewing, sorry.

the top

the underside
flip the ribbons over - inside out, almost.  They lay down pretty nicely. 
4. Put on an episode of 24* and fire up the glue gun

5. Finish.  Cut small lengths of ribbon (I used the 3/8") and glue them around the middle.  Just find which way works best for you. I used flat-nosed pliers to squeeze the ribbon down*, because one of my pet peeves is burning my fingers with hot glue.

These were probably about 1.5" to 2" or so.  Aren't you glad to have such an accurate and specific tutorial to follow?

6. Admire!*

7. Regret never having made the cheer squad in high school or college.

8. Stuff the pain by enjoying a Reese's PB Cup.  Or two.*

*Optional, but recommended

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