30 May 2012

Lessons at 39.

I've learned two important things this week.
1. Do not take the dog along for a car wash.

 2. Even if it's only 59 degrees out, and you need to wear a sweatshirt to be comfortable,
let the girl run through the sprinkler if she wants to. She'll stop if she's cold, and she'll probably have a really, really lovely time.

23 May 2012

Our song (Today is the 23rd of May)

My dad loved Bill Cosby, the Smothers Brothers, and Allan Sherman records (and other racier ones that we weren't allowed to listen to, as you can imagine). Still, it was my little sister who noticed, circa 1978, that both of our birthdays are in this Allan Sherman song. Twice a year, one of us calls up the other and sings our birthday song. I like it.  

Our song starts around 4:42. And the video is just a shot of the album cover and the vinyl, but I'm just lucky I found it online at all, peeps. 

I'll probably post more later today. Until then,and/or if not, happy birthday to me, Jeff Kolness, Diane Nelson, Barney Selzler, and the rest of us May 23rders. I think I'll go find me some liverwurst.

21 May 2012

Name that flower!

I took pictures of some wildflowers this weekend, but I only know the name of one of them.  Why don't you show off your vast plant knowledge and educate me?

I think they're all pretty awesome, whatever they're called. As I came up out of the ditch, a woman walked by and said "You know, that ditch is full of poison ivy." Thanks for the (too late) heads up, lady. Still, I must've avoided those nasty leaves of three, because nothing itches today. And the ditch is clearly not FULL of poison ivy, because if it were, there would be no room for those pretty flowers.

20 May 2012

First swim

The new yellow swimsuit, in action yesterday at Lake Belle Taine. It was windy and cool but she was sure she'd have fun. 
 She was right. 

 It was lovely weather for ducks, too. 

Seven looked on with concern. 

About ten minutes after she got out of the lake, the thunderstorms began, and stayed the rest of the weekend. I hope it wasn't because we offended Mother Nature by swimming before Memorial Day.

18 May 2012

Thrift Score: V edition

Oh, summertime! So lush and green and hot and full of bugs. I finally signed V up for swimming lessons: they start in June. So the girl needs a swimsuit. Since she continues to grow at remarkable speeds (she looks like a 3rd grader, and the people at the Snap Dragon, where kids 6 and under eat free on Sundays, think I'm a terrible liar of a mother), last year's swimsuits will only carry her so far. Target has adorable swimsuits, I know, but they are at least $10 each. There's so little fabric, and for just one summer's wearing, I can't stomach it! (I did buy her a cute orange and turquoise one last year, so the girl knows that new Target smell of clothes. I swear I'm not depriving her). I buy almost all my own clothes at thrift stores, so I figured it was worth a try. At the same time, swimsuits, esp. for kids, often get worn hard, so that when I have found them, at Saver's, for example, the seats are usually too pilled or threadbare to be really worth buying. Knowing all this, I went to our local Boy's Ranch, hoping against the odds for something good.

And I was not disappointed! A brand new cotton dress, two new swimsuits, an Amelia Bedelia book, a music game for the DSi, and sneakers a half size bigger than her current shoes, all for under $20. I win!

A brief note about thrift store clothes: I know some people find it kind of icky to buy previously worn clothes, especially those that go right next to the skin, like under things or swimsuits. I respect and understand that reaction, but I don't share it. Well, I do for panties: panties should be a one-owner product. But brand new clothes are often covered in all kinds of germs and pesticides, and if you buy them in stores they were likely tried on before you got to them. Swimsuits, bras, and socks all strike me as worth saving money on if they're in good shape, and after a good washing don't bother me at all. Bake a pie, eat a pie, as it were. 

All thrift stores sometimes get new items donated, though, and if the hang tags are still on an article of clothing, I have no qualms about paying thrift store prices for a brand new item. The pink swimsuit in the photo, bottom right, still had the store tags on it, and it was a $24 suit, marked down to $3.99. The yellow one piece, above, still has the protective panty liner in it, and was donated by Target (which I can tell by the Target brand tag, marked through with a permanent marker), and was $2.99. The girl gets 2 brand new suits for less than the price of one! 

The shoes and dress were likewise Target donations, as was the video game. I don't normally buy V shoes when she's not with me to try on, because she wears braces in her shoes that can be tricky to fit. But she tried on some size 2 Converses just the other day, and though she didn't like the look of those (a boring pink pair), the braces fit just fine, and I'm pretty sure the addition of sequins and hearts will win her over to these. And if not, my little niece, a fashionista at only three, will love them in a few years. 

Whew. It was a big triumphant thrift store day for me, so I thought I'd share it with you. The book is already in the library, the video game in the gift closet (sh!), and the clothes are in the washer. Good luck in your shopping today, gentle readers! And happy, happy summertime.

16 May 2012

Rage Against the Flying Machines

I don't fly much, because I am a simple, driving woman. But when I do, it's most often from Fargo, and most often to Vegas, which means I fly Allegiant Air. They have recently changed their carry-on policy, so that carry-on bags, which used to be free, now cost $24.99 in advance, or $34.99 the day of the flight. This would be fine, of course, if ticket prices dropped accordingly, but they haven't, and so this new policy really gives me pause. More than pause, it pisses me off. So I thought I'd find myself a way around it. From their website, passengers are still allowed one personal item free of charge. And I quote:

Examples of personal items include:

  1. Male or female purse
  2. Briefcase
  3. Laptop computer
  4. Camera case
  5. Portable electronic devices of similar or smaller size to items listed above
  6. The exterior dimensions for a personal item must not exceed 7" H X 15" W X 16" D (this measurement includes wheels, pockets, handles and decorations).
  7. The personal item must be placed under the seat in front of you.
  8. An oversized personal item may be considered a carry-on bag (fees apply).  Please measure your bags carefully.
So...if I were to have a purse or some other bag that measures 7x15x16 or less, including all hardware and handles and stuff, and I could fit all I needed for a trip in there, well, then, I would save myself $25.

I've been to Vegas three times, and each time we flew out on Monday and came home on Friday, so we spent 4 nights away. Now, camping for 4 nights and 5 days, I could wear the same clothes most of the time, and would only need to pack sunscreen, bugspray, and a few sandwiches. (You're not going to invite me to go camping with you, are you?) But in Vegas, I like to dress up a bit, wear a little make-up, maybe some earrings...could I pack for all of that in just a 7x15x16 bag?  I decided to try.
 I should mention that we have no real plans to go to Vegas right now: I'm teaching summer school, and Shaun's still got this new-ish job, and we're not financially in a position to wander off to Vegas willy-nilly. Quite. I'm working on it. Anyway, above, the bag from the side: you can clearly see it is less than 7" here, thanks to my handy Hendrum Grain Elevator yardstick.
 And though this one is harder to see, trust me that this side is only about 14". This bag is, by the way, a prototype, made with my less-favorite fabrics to just try out the idea/refine my pattern. The navy is very strong nylon, double thickness, and the zippers (there are two) are from our local hardware store, at 80cents each. If I make one again, I'm thinking of using a lovely sparkle vinyl, maybe.
 And this side is under 16". And it's packed. With everything I need for 5 days in Vegas. I swear!
The rear-end, measuring in at just over 6". Whee! But wait. Maybe you still don't believe me. 

 Here it is, unzipped for your voyeuristic pleasure.
 My liquids bag, in a front pocket for easy access. I've packed 5 prs of one-a-day contacts, a small tube of sunscreen, toothpaste, lip gloss, mascara, eyeliner, and my 2 inhaler canisters (which are technically considered liquids, apparently). It's all there, baby.
 Let me prove it to you: unpacked, above, are five shirts of varying sleeve lengths (I'll wear a lightweight jacket, because, though it's the middle of the desert, the A/C can be fierce in some casinos). I'd only need four tops, but I'm a sloppy woman, and I like to have options. The patterns on the shirts help to hide the sloppiness, too.
Basic things: my Nintendo DSiXL, which has 100 classic books locked and loaded; my sexy carpal tunnel braces; and my make-up bag, with my remaining make-up, my pills, and my Maalox, which mama needs in Vegas. And my eyelash curler, which is really unnecessary, but again, it's Vegas.
 But wait, there's more! Above: my swimsuit, a black skirt, a white skirt, a gray skirt, a brown pink and cream skirt, and brown pants. I could totally leave out two of those skirts and double up, but if I have the room, why not?
 Then, at the very bottom, my extra shoes (I'll wear the bulkier, less-practical pair on the plane), with my undergarments. That's right. I"m not afraid to post photos of those on the internets. And that is all. See? Everything I need for 5 days in Sin City. Not pictured: a small purse, which will easily fit, as will my camera and charger (I can't take a photo of the camera with which I'm taking a photo). And the cell phone and charger. Ta-da!

I feel vindicated, and if I ever fly to Vegas again, Allegiant Air is simply not getting an extra $24.99 from me.
Now I just have to convince Shaun to come with me. And we'll live happily ever after.

What are your favorite packing tips?

15 May 2012

Wildlife photography

As a little girl, I was never squeamish around bugs. I rather liked them, actually. Potato bugs, though, were one of the banes of our existence, and the half-acre of potatoes my mother regularly planted were at risk, always, from these varmints. Our parents would pay us 1/2 a penny per bug, during peak season. 
 Perhaps because I had a hand in killing thousands of his brethren, this little feller showed up on my windshield one day last week. Instead of gathering him into a tobacco can with 1/2 an inch of gasoline, as was our wont, I just took his picture, and then drove him away from our yard, where he blew off somewhere near the fire station up the street. He's kind of pretty, though, when he's not decimating our winter's food source.
 In not really related news, this little inchworm found her way unto my shirt this afternoon. I know that inchworms can cause massive devastation to plants and trees, but I have no charming childhood story of massacre for this one. I just thought the baby inchworm was cute.

I took her outside for better light, got some extreme close ups of my thumb, and set her free. I hope she's not in cahoots with the potato bug family. I'll be so disappointed.

10 May 2012

Those photos I promised you

Almost new Ruff Hewn X-strap mary janes: $3. Aren't they cute? Yes, I have other red mary janes, but these are clearly completely different. Don't judge me. 

Then I made  myself a new summer-y purse. I've been working a lot with vinyl, lately, and I really like it, but lordy, vinyl does not breathe. By definition, it's too hot for summertime, so I found some very pretty cotton and made myself a mock-Vera Bradley bag. (I actually own 2 Vera Bradley bags: one kinda of like this, in Paprika, which was a gift from my sister-in-law and which I love so much I only carry it on special occasional, and one like this, which I got for $2.50 at the thrift store, which I also love but I'm sort of bored with the colors, which are muted blue and cream and brown.) So, ta-da!

Fantastic rainbow fabric from Mill End, with lots of interior pockets and a lining made from orange and red fabric that we used at our wedding ten years ago. There's a big zipper pocket inside, with pen and cell phone pockets opposite, and a smaller zipper pocket on the outside. I quilted the fabrics together with a lightweight cotton batting, though next time I think I'll just use a nice interfacing: the quilting just takes up too much space in a small bag. I even got fancy and added a loop onto which I could clip my keys. You know how that is, when you toss you keys in your purse, and then you have dig all the way to the bottom? I hate that. So I added a little loop on the strap. 
 Only I didn't think that particular addition through, so it points to my boob. Like you wouldn't notice my them anyway, I now have a prominent detail on my lovely handmade bag clearly drawing attention to my right breast. Awesome.

But I can fix that, and otherwise it's pretty cute.

Now the 6 year old is telling me she's hungry, so I'd better go rustle up grub. How's your summer going?

09 May 2012


Grades went in on Monday, so today is my second official day of summer. I thought you'd like to share in the joy that is my to-do list.

Walk the girl to school: done.
Morning nap: done.
Clean the kitchen: contemplated.
Selfish thrift-store shopping: done. Sweet $3 red mary janes scored. Photos to follow.
Mow the backyard: done. I had to restart that poor mower four times, but I got it done.
Pick the girl up from school, walking the dog to and fro: done.
Clean the dining room: considered.
Make a tasty supper that somehow includes broccoli: done. Unanimously voted as tasty.
Sew myself a cute summer purse: done. Photos to follow.

It was a pretty great way to start my summer. Hope your day was full of things you like, too.